By LYNETTE HAALAND, Four Points News
Vandegrift High School has been hit hard by a COVID-19 outbreak and its football program is under quarantine, affecting hundreds.
An Austin Public Health investigation last week revealed VHS had an outbreak, which it defines as three or more linked cases, common classes, friend groups or teammates.
“The VHS football program was shut down and all of the students in the program were put into quarantine,” according to VHS principal Charlie Little.
“We have definitely seen an increase in the student COVID rate during the last month,” Little said. “This is certainly not unique to Vandegrift, and I’ve been told the fastest growing rate of infection is within the school-aged populations.”
Late last week, Little had been getting a lot of calls from parents about the number of cases at Vandegrift and on Monday afternoon he shared an email with parents about what was happening.
The May 10 email stated:
Thank you for your continued patience as we follow the guidance of our local health agencies in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. While we have made great progress as a district and as a community in turning the corner on the pandemic, the last week offers a stark reminder that we must continue to be vigilant.
Last week, following an investigation and guidance from Austin Public Health (APH), the VHS football program was shut down and the students that participate in the program were quarantined due to a COVID-19 outbreak. Per APH, an outbreak is defined as three or more linked cases, common classes, friend groups or teammates.
Today (Monday) we were notified of five more positive cases linked to the football program. Fortunately, these cases did not impact our campus students, staff or community because the students were already quarantined.
We understand that getting news your child needs to quarantine is not what anyone wants to hear, especially this time of the school year. We appreciate your partnership in keeping our students, staff and community healthy.
Little said he is extremely proud of the VHS admin and nursing team for the contact tracing systems they have put in place this school year. The contact tracing system is able to quickly respond to situations of community spread.
“Their work has mitigated larger outbreaks,” Little said. “For example, after our most recent quarantine in football, we began to see more students testing positive; however, since they were already part of the broader quarantine, the outbreak was contained and the program was able to resume activities much sooner than if the action had not been taken.”
The weekly number of positive cases will be higher when posted this Friday but as of May 7, the school had recorded a total of 112 cumulative positive cases over the school year.
The number of cases is a gauge to the overall number of those who have or have had the virus but not everyone shares with the school about positive test results. For example, if they are a virtual student and/or one who has not had contact with other students, then they do not always report results.
All VHS students and families are notified when a positive case is reported.
“Throughout the year our programs have done an exemplary job following protocols and keeping our doors open and the kids active in their extracurricular activities,” Little said.
Contact tracing is laborious, time-consuming and detailed work, but it is through this process that Vandegrift and Leander ISD schools are able to remain open and weather this pandemic, he added.
“As we look forward to returning to full, in-person learning next year, there is promise of abundant vaccine supply for students, and we will continue to hone our contact tracing protocols so we can quickly respond to the next challenge,” Little said. “Students are best served in-person, and we can’t wait to see them all next year.”