Administrator Explains COVID-19 Data Driving School Health Decisions

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By Stefanie Jackson – Accomack Coordinator of Student Health Services Tonya Martin updated the school board Tuesday night on the data that drives school closures.

Schools remain open or are closed based on the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) School Metrics, guidance from the local health department, and other data.

Accomack’s school metrics are high due to two COVID-19 outbreaks, one on Tangier Island and another at Shore Health and Rehabilitation in Parksley, Martin said.

Accomack students are at the highest risk of transmission of COVID-19 in school, according to two core indicators provided by the CDC: 537 new cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 persons within the last 14 days, and a COVID-19 test positivity rate of 11.7% as of Dec. 16.

But Eastern Shore Health District officials report, “while the cases continue to trend upward, we’re not seeing substantial transmission within our schools,” Martin said.

The COVID-19 outbreak on Tangier did not originate in the school, but it continues, and the school will remain closed until Jan. 4, 2021.

Accomack schools communicate daily with the local health department and Superintendent Chris Holland. “He knows what’s going on with this data at all times,” Martin said.

There were more than 2,950 students in Accomack’s hybrid learning program as of Nov. 20.

A total of 20 Accomack students have tested positive for COVID-19 since September. Four were virtual students, and six were from just three households.

The number of Accomack students who tested positive each month were one in September, two in October, six in November, and 10 in December.

The last time an Accomack student tested positive for COVID-19 was Dec. 9.

A total of 17 Accomack school staff members have tested positive for COVID-19 since September.


One COVID-19 outbreak in Accomack originated in a school, at Nandua High School in October, Martin reported.

“Our mitigation strategies are strong,” she said. School nurses make sure students with signs of illness stay home, hand-washing and social distancing are practiced, and custodians are keeping surfaces clean and sanitized.

“I think we’re doing a really good job in Accomack County,” she said.