FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – October 23, 2020
Media Contact: Melissa Gordon, firstname.lastname@example.org
Virginia Department of Health Announces New Outbreaks in Educational Settings Dashboard
RICHMOND, VA — The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) COVID-19 data website now includes an outbreaks in educational settings dashboard which shows a line list of outbreaks in Kindergarten-12th Grade Schools by school name with associated case numbers and deaths. It shows current and previous outbreaks of COVID-19 in specific schools in Virginia. The dashboard will help schools measure the extent to which the COVID-19 virus is spreading in their localities and guide possible responses to mitigate that spread.
“Fully re-opening our schools remains a priority as we work to slow the spread of COVID-19. Students have different learning styles, and for some, face-to-face interactions in a classroom are important to achievement. Educational settings also provide significant social benefits that cannot be overstated. By providing additional information on where outbreaks are occurring we hope to provide a broader picture of the impact of COVID-19 and help communities decide where to place resources to prevent and control outbreaks,” said M. Norman Oliver, M.D., M.A., Virginia State Health Commissioner. “Given the changing nature of the pandemic, we felt providing these data at this time poses no risk to public health investigations or to compromising patient anonymity.”
Outbreaks on this dashboard represent discrete outbreaks occurring at schools. Only cases associated with outbreaks are displayed and not the total number of cases that are students or staff but unrelated to the outbreak. The dashboard lists public and private schools. Only the outbreaks where transmission occurred at the school or school-sponsored events are included.
It is important to note that the presence of an outbreak at a school does not reflect a school’s ability to educate its students or to protect the health and safety of its school community. Schools and local health departments work together to identify best practices to prevent and control COVID-19 in schools and to promote a healthy learning environment for students and staff.
Each outbreak is investigated by the local health department. Public health professionals make recommendations on ways to prevent further spread of the virus to protect staff, students, and visitors. Educational institutions work collaboratively with public health to respond. To find out more about an outbreak and the steps being taken to control it, contact the educational institution. This dashboard meets the requirements of HB5048 and SB5081 of the 2020 Special Session Number One.