COVID Arises in Vaccinated Briar Woods Students


Rylyn Christopher, Reporter

Recently, a higher than average number of students at Briar Woods have fallen ill. Ever since Homecoming on September 18, 2021, absences have increased due to cold-like symptoms or COVID-19 testing. Small outbreaks like these are bound to happen, but this poses the question: “Should we be concerned?”

Ms. Hisel, Briar Woods’ school nurse, confirmed “most of the children are vaccinated.” When the vaccine became available, numerous students elected to opt in because they wanted to protect themselves and others in their community. According to the CDC, 75.2% of the eligible population in Loudoun County is fully vaccinated. As a result, the COVID-19 cases are down to just 654 active cases in the county. Another noteworthy point is that in Loudoun County, the current transmission rate is high. However, the large percentage of individuals that are fully vaccinated will improve this rate. 

With so many vaccinated students and staff, the current outbreak at Briar Woods should subside, and  currently, it does not create a serious risk to people in the building. Ms. Hisel said case numbers are actually lower than she expected, so in-person learning is not in jeopardy. Along with high vaccination rates, parents also play a role in whether staff and students stay in the building as many realize it is necessary for students to be in school. 

Even with most students vaccinated, if someone in the building contracts the Coronavirus, there are measures in place to keep it from spreading. When administrators are notified that a staff member or student has COVID-19, procedures are in place. First, the virus needs to be verified. Mrs. Hisel said it is “more common than one would think that false virus rumors make their way to the administrative staff.” Once a nurse has confirmed with a parent or guardian that a student truly has contracted COVID-19, the student remains in quarantine and contact tracing begins: all people who were within three feet of the infected student is contacted by the nurse, and they are interviewed. Unvaccinated students must quarantine for 10 days.

The real problem lies within elementary schools. High school students are eligible for the vaccine, but since elementary school students are younger, most are not old enough. This has made their numbers much worse. “They are having a lot more cases than high school,” says Ms. Hisel. Although it is not expected that high school students in Loudoun County will go back to distance learning anytime this year, elementary schools may have no choice.