RICHMOND, Va. -- Chesterfield and Richmond's school boards have already decided to go all virtual to start the next school year, and Henrico's superintendent has recommended an all virtual start, but the head of the Richmond and Henrico Health Department said Wednesday he does "think a combination option of in person and virtual makes sense."
Dr. Danny Avula spoke at a press conference hosted by Mayor Levar Stoney, where he cited research and data from day cares in the United States and schools abroad that have been opened during the pandemic.
He said evidence suggests that while children under the age of 10 can get COVID-19, they are typically asymptomatic or have mild cases, and they tend not to drive the transmission of COVID-19.
However, he said "older kids, adolescents do tend to spread [COVID-19] more like adults."
For those reasons, Dr. Avula said school systems need to take a very nuanced approach when deciding whether to reopen.
"The nuance is in what age is your child, what dynamics for the number of kids, and their ability to adhere to social distancing guidelines," Avula said. "I do think a combination option of in-person and virtual makes sense, but I think you've got to look and listen, listen to your families and teachers and use that to drive your decision making."
Avula added that Richmond did a good job of listening to parents and teachers before making its decision to go all virtual to start the school year.
The number of daily cases in the City of Richmond are up from about 15 per day two weeks ago to 25 per day.
Avula added that Richmond's percent positivity is now up to 7.4 percent, which is still well within the 10 percent threshold experts recommend.
Although cases are only slightly up here, they are surging in the eastern part of the state.
Mayor Stoney reminded folks not to let their guard down: to continue to wear masks, wash their hands frequently, and social distance.
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.