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How are days students may have to quarantine reflected on their school records

Published: Sep. 6, 2021 at 4:24 AM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - The Virginia Department of Health defines close contact with COVID-19 as, “being within six feet of a person who has COVID-19 for a total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period.” There is an exception for a K-12 settings which is that if the student was within three to six feet and both students were wearing masks, it was not close contact.

If students must be quarantined, schools in our area have plans in place for students to complete the work due during that time period, how it is reflected on a student’s record can differ.

For Harrisonburg, students rely on virtual practices during quarantine or isolation and as long as they can complete their work online, they will be marked present.

“Three different platforms two used by the elementary school and one used by the secondary schools, that is the middle schools and the high schools and when they access the lessons online when they are away for school they are not counted absent,” Harrisonburg City Public Schools superintendent Dr. Michael Richards, explained.

For Rockingham County, Superintendent Dr. Oskar Scheikl says that students who are able to can complete work from home and will also be counted present.

If they are sick and unable to complete the work, their attendance would be marked as the usual code for illness.

“That is an excused absence, so this is not like students are unexcused and all of a sudden end up with truancy issues because they were sick or they weren’t able to participate. We are going to work with families there is no reason to hold that against the student,” Dr. Scheikl explained.

For Staunton City Schools, director of instruction, Stephanie Haskins said via email,

”Anytime a student is absent from school, teachers offer resources and assignments that allow for this ongoing learning. We received updated guidance from VDOE that allows some provisions for absences during quarantining. This can be an extended time out for students, and the new guidance allows us to count those students differently if learning continues. Students are provided with asynchronous assignments and may be offered opportunities to remote in or connect with the teacher through email or office hours (if they are feeling well), as needed. Students may be counted as present, instead of absent, if work is completed and/or there is communication with the teacher.”

For Waynesboro students who have to quarantine are recorded as medically excused.

“But there is no penalty for them being away from class. They are coded as being absent because they are not in our school but they are able to do work that is provided by our instructors during the absence,” Dr. Ryan Barber, director of instruction for Waynesboro Public Schools, said in an interview.

Each division has a way for students to maintain their work while not physically in school. All district leaders stress the importance of staying home when you are sick.

“I know this is stressful on families because an unexpected quarantine can mean that a parent has to stay home they may have a challenge in finding childcare and those kinds of things so it is a big challenge for our families they have been going through so much these last few years but we do have to quarantine students and we do have to keep everyone safe,” Dr. Richards added.

“Right now is the time to say let’s just wait and see, let’s just make sure it was just allergies, if not that’s how it spreads,” Dr. Scheikl said.

“And if a student has missed many days of school we’re going to wrap support around the student and the family so they can get as much instruction as possible. With the understanding that it is not a replacement for five days a week of in-person instruction, it is not ideal but in a pandemic nothing is ideal,” Dr. Barber said.

For more information on the guidance for in-person learning from the VDH, click here.

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