Fairfax parent says it took 4 days to learn of son’s potential COVID-19 exposure

A Fairfax County, Virginia, family is in quarantine after an elementary school student was exposed to a teaching assistant who tested positive for COVID-19.

That student at Sleepy Hollow Elementary is in the individualized education program there, and was among the first group of students to return to classrooms last Tuesday, said the boy’s mother, Kolleen Kennedy.

The boy was in school both Tuesday and Wednesday before the winter storm canceled Thursday classes and forced learning to go virtual on Friday.

The school employee — who had been within 6 feet of her son for a time longer than 15 minutes — tested positive on Wednesday, Kennedy said, but she wasn’t notified until Sunday. And she wants to know why it took so long — because of potential exposures in her own home.

“I panicked,” Kennedy said, “because I have a 76-year-old mother, who is around [the boy] all the time, and who was around him on Thursday, because she was helping me with him.”

So now, Kennedy said, the family is in quarantine for two weeks.

Though some parents have been anxious about a return to the classroom, Kennedy said she was “completely OK” with him going back.

“He needs to be in the school,” she said of her son, citing his extra needs as a student. “It’s important for them to be in the environment, where he’s getting everything he needs.”

In a statement, Fairfax County Public Schools said the district only learned of the positive test on Saturday, then notified staffers and the school community the following day.

“The small group cohort was paused until the health department personnel finish their contact investigation,” the school district said.

WTOP’s Melissa Howell contributed to this report.

Jack Pointer

Jack Pointer is a writer and editor with a variety of news and publishing experience, including more than a decade at The Dallas Morning News and Chicago Tribune.

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