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5 seniors at graduation ceremony test positive for COVID-19

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Posted at 7:08 PM, Jun 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-20 19:08:13-04

FREDERICKSBURG, Va. -- Five graduating seniors at a Virginia high school who attended a modified commencement ceremony at the school have tested positive for the coronavirus.

Fredericksburg City Schools Superintendent Marceline Catlett said Friday that the five students at James Monroe High School tested positive for COVID-19, and all five attended graduation ceremonies at the school on Monday.

She said the school has been working with the local health department and that the risk of exposure for most students is low.

The Free Lance-Star reported that each of the school's 233 graduates had the opportunity to attend individualized ceremonies that were booked in short time slots over a three-day period.

Letter from Superintendent Catlett:

We have been informed that five students of James Monroe High School have reported testing positive for COVID-19 (Novel Coronavirus Disease 2019). After a preliminary investigation by the Rappahannock Area Health District (RAHD), it has been identified that these individuals attended the graduation ceremony on June 15, 2020 and may have had direct exposure with others in attendance at this event. We are writing this letter to keep all families informed and to remind them to continue to take precautions and monitor for symptoms. Though we understand this may cause some uneasiness, the overall risk of exposure to the majority of students and staff at the event is considered low. We are working closely with RAHD to identify anyone who had close contact with the individuals to determine if they might have been exposed to COVID-19. If you are identified as having been potentially exposed, RAHD will contact you and provide additional instructions. It is recommended that anyone present at this graduation monitor closely for signs of illness, including cough, shortness of breath, or a temperature higher than 100.4F. Additional symptoms may also include chills, body aches, fatigue, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, runny nose, diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting. If you experience any of these symptoms, please stay home other than to seek medical care.

Depend on CBS 6 News and WTVR.com for the most complete coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic.

COVID-19 Precautions

Most patients with COVID-19 have mild to moderate symptoms. However, in a small proportion of patients, COVID-19 can lead to more severe illness, including death, particularly among those who are older or those who have chronic medical conditions.

COVID-19 spreads primarily through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

Symptoms include fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. Symptoms appear within 14 days of being exposed to an infectious person.

Virginia health officials urged the following precautions:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer only if soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.Stay home when you are sick.
  • Avoid contact with sick people.Avoid non-essential travel.