An attempt to have Culpeper County Public Schools release a weekly coronavirus rundown to the public failed during a Dec. 14 school board meeting.
As the meeting began, board member Barbara Brown suggested an agenda amendment to include a vote whether the school system will “provide information regarding COVID quarantines, isolations and positive cases weekly to staff and public for the remainder of the school year.”
“I think we need to provide that to our employees and to the community so that we can show them that we care and that, for some of them that believe we’re hiding something, they will understand that we’re not hiding anything,” she said.
The motion failed by a 4-3 vote, with school board members Patricia Baker, Marshall Keene, Anne Luckinbill and Elizabeth Smith choosing to not amend the agenda. Those in favor of the agenda addition were board members Brown, Christina Brunette and Michelle North.
Keene attempted to comment on Brown’s motion but was cut off so a vote could be taken. Contacted after the meeting, Keene said he was attempting to say why he does not support the idea. He noted that school staff work hard every day to follow the mitigation plan and set examples for others.
“Despite these efforts, exposures and close contacts occur and we inform those directly involved,” Keene said. “Showing numbers or keeping score doesn’t change behavior. In my opinion just sharing numbers could lead to unnecessary comparisons, blame, and ostracism. I can assure you that myself and every single staff member care about the safety of each other and the students, but creating another data driven dashboard will not change behavior.”
Keene added that the school system must continue doing what it has done successfully and follow the mitigation plan. He added that Culpeper Emergency Services releases trends and data on a daily basis for those interested.
Luckinbill expressed umbrage with Brown’s sentiments, saying “I take a little bit of issue that if we don’t release the information we don’t care.”
“I think that’s not a fair assumption. I think all of us care. And if we’re going to release information I think it should be informative and instructive and I’m not sure the release of that information would change any behaviors,” she said.
Brown said providing the report is “the right thing to do.”
“The concern is that releasing this will cause more fear and more dissension and more controversy…You can’t tell me that doesn’t already go on. If a person is missing next door to my classroom for two weeks, it isn’t too hard to figure out that they’re probably quarantining,” she said.
This story has been updated with Keene's comments.