LOUDOUN COUNTY, Va. — The total number of coronavirus cases at Independence High School in Loudoun County has grown to 21 as of Tuesday, March 23, including a staff member.
Another student athlete tested positive for the virus, according to Independence High School staff and the health department. The student was last on campus on March 6. They are the 16th student-athlete to test positive at the school.
Loudoun County Public Schools was informed that a student-athlete tested positive, according to the county's health department Tuesday, March 16. They were last at the school on March 6, and is currently self-isolating. "We wish them well," officials said.
On Monday, March 15, four Independence students and the one staff member were reported testing positive to the school system. The students were last at the school on March 3, March 8 and March 9, while the staffer was last at the school in August. They are self-isolating as well.
Two weeks ago, 14 student-athletes at Independence had tested positive for the virus. Those students were last seen on school grounds on March 2, March 4 and March 6, and were all in self-isolation too, Loudoun County schools said then.
Eight of the student-athletes were originally confirmed as having tested positive for the virus on March 10. The following day another four were confirmed. By Friday evening, an additional two were added to the previous count, bringing the total then to 14 student-athletes known to be positive for COVID-19.
The county told WUSA9 that the local health department was aware of the initial 12 students testing positive. They're “working closely with LCPS to take all of the appropriate public health actions,” the county public affairs and communications officer had said in an email.
The county declined to share any more information for privacy reasons — such as what sports the students participate in and if any had recently traveled.
The Loudoun County Health Department follows up directly with anyone determined to be a close contact, officials said.
"Close contacts have been identified as a result of the student-athletes’ presence at school on March 6. Those individuals have been directed to quarantine for 14 days to avoid inadvertently exposing others to the virus," Interim Superintendent Scott Ziegler wrote in a letter to the high school community on March 12.
The superintendent's letter went on to specify the Virginia Department of Health's definition of "close contact" as: "people who have been within 6 feet of a person who tests positive for the virus, for 15 minutes or more, starting from 48 hours before symptom onset or 48 hours before the test was taken if they had no symptoms."
The district has faced multiple outbreaks since the onset of the pandemic.
In June 2020, at least 20 students from Freedom High School contracted the virus while visiting Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, according to parents.
Loudoun County health officials said 150 people between the ages of 16 and 18 had tested positive for the virus that month after many traveled to the popular “Beach Week” destination.
That October, a Loudoun County high school student-athlete from Broad Run High School also tested positive for COVID-19.
Modified sports practices are still occurring according to a plan laid out by the Virginia High School League, which has adopted guidance for youth sports by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The LCHD advises that anyone who is ill should self-isolate and contact their physician for further guidance. Anyone with COVID-related questions can reach the LCHD at 703-737-8300.