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Loudoun Elementary School Staffer Tests Positive For Coronavirus

Patch logo Patch 4/8/2020 Mark Hand
a yellow sign on a pole: A Loudoun County Public Schools staff member at Hutchison Farm Elementary School in South Riding has tested positive for the coronavirus. © Courtesy of Tim Lee A Loudoun County Public Schools staff member at Hutchison Farm Elementary School in South Riding has tested positive for the coronavirus.

LOUDOUN COUNTY, VA — A staff member at Hutchison Farm Elementary School in South Riding has tested positive for the new coronavirus, or COVID-19. The staff member is receiving medical care, Loudoun County Public Schools Superintendent Eric Williams said Tuesday afternoon.

The Loudoun Schools staff member last worked at Hutchison Farm on Thursday, March 26, and began experiencing symptoms on Sunday, March 29. The Loudoun County Health Department has informed the Loudoun schools system that the Virginia Department of Health has updated its guidelines to define “close contacts” as people who have had close contact with a person who tests positively for the virus starting from 48 hours before symptom onset.

Even with this expanded definition of a close contact to a person who has tested positive for COVID-19, the Loudoun County Health Department has informed Loudoun County Public Schools that there is no reason at this time to conduct a contact investigation for close contacts at Hutchison Farm, Williams said.

Out of an abundance of caution, Loudoun County Public Schools closed the Hutchison Farm school building March 31 prior to receiving confirmation of the employee’s positive status. Since April 1, meals for distribution at Hutchison Farm Elementary School have been prepared at Freedom High School and transported to Hutchison Farm for distribution.

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Hutchison Farm Elementary School has been thoroughly cleaned since it was closed, and food preparation will begin there again on Monday, Williams said.

According to the Loudoun County Health Department, there currently is no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 by food. Unlike foodborne gastrointestinal viruses like norovirus and hepatitis A that often make people ill through contaminated food, SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19, is a virus that causes respiratory illness. Foodborne exposure to this virus is not known to be a route of transmission.

Loudoun County has 238 reported positive cases of the coronavirus as of Wednesday. At least a dozen of the reported cases have been Loudoun County Public Schools staffers. The one reported death in Loudoun County was a long-time school teacher who was working at Liberty and Pinebrook elementary schools when she became sick.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has ordered all in-person teaching at public schools in the state closed down for the rest of the school year. Loudoun County Public Schools are scheduled to start distance learning next Tuesday.

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