April 16, 2021
Dear Washington-Liberty High School Staff and Families,
We want to make you aware that four W-L students tested positive for COVID-19 as part of a contact tracing investigation conducted from March 23, 2021 to March 31, 2021. If you were NOT contacted directly by the Arlington County Public Health Division (ACPHD) as part of this investigation, you do not need to take any action and this notice is for information only.
Based on guidance from the ACPHD, we quarantined all students and staff who were in close contact with any of the individuals who tested positive. The parents of those students were contacted directly. Per our case investigation procedures for COVID-19, only those directly involved in the contact tracing were immediately notified.
Yesterday, ACPHD notified us that due to these cases being linked to Washington-Liberty, this would be identified as an “ongoing outbreak investigation” per Virginia Department of Health definitions. Outbreaks are reported when there are more than two cases in a given setting with no known exposure elsewhere.
All health and safety protocols were being followed at school, which allowed W-L staff to respond quickly with ACPHD to prevent further transmission. It is critical that students and staff maintain COVID-19 health and safety protocols at home and in the community, as well as at school and during school activities.
Any case of COVID-19 in our schools is investigated by our public health partners. As part of that public health investigation, Arlington County staff:
- Identify, contact, and interview people with COVID-19 (cases).
- Interview them to find people that were close to them (close contacts) while they were contagious, up until they separated themselves from others (isolation).
- Contact and interview their close contacts. Staff let them know they have been exposed to COVID-19 and assess their risk of getting sick.
- Advise cases and close contacts to:
- Not have physical contact with others (isolation/quarantine)
- Follow guidelines for household cleaning and personal hygiene (e.g., hand washing) to prevent germs from spreading.
- Ensure they have basic needs (e.g., groceries, prescription refills, cleaning supplies) while under isolation/quarantine.
- Identify new or worsening symptoms, and safely seek care from a health care provider (by calling ahead) if needed.
- Follow guidance until restrictions (isolation/quarantine) are over.
Additional details on contact tracing are available online.
All students, staff and families are reminded to follow APS health and safety requirements to stay home if you are sick, take an honest assessment of your health when answering screening questions, wear a mask, wash hands frequently, and practice physical distancing to the greatest extent possible. If you or anyone in your household is exhibiting symptoms consistent with COVID-19; do not send your child to school or to athletic events. Seek medical care and COVID-19 testing.
We thank you for your partnership in the effort to keep students, staff, and families healthy and safe this school year.
Zachary Pope, M.Ed. CEM®
Director, Safety, Security, Risk and Emergency Management
Arlington Public Schools
Washington-Liberty High School