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Chesapeake Public Schools to temporarily shift back to all-virtual learning amid rising COVID-19 cases

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Posted at 9:01 PM, Dec 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-15 19:32:22-05

CHESAPEAKE, Va. - As COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Hampton Roads, students in Chesapeake will temporarily go back to learning from home.

The Chesapeake School Board voted Monday night to shift to online learning for two weeks after winter break due to a recommendation from Superintendent Dr. Jared Cotton. The motion carried despite three board members voting against the decision.

All Option 1 students will learn remotely from January 4-15, 2021. Employees may work from home with permission from their supervisors.

Students will return to on-campus learning on January 19, 2021.

“We’ve been watching school-level data and based on what we witnessed following Thanksgiving, we believe that two weeks of reduced campus activity after the upcoming holiday break will result in less of an impact to operations across the district when on-campus instruction resumes on January 19, 2021. We will be tracking the data, both quarantine numbers and positive test results at each location, to see if this strategy proves effective,” said Cotton.

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From the Chesapeake School Board's meeting on December 14, 2020

At an emergency school board meeting on November 23, Dr. Cotton recommended that schools in the district stay the course and make no changes to the current instructional model in place amid Virginia reaching record-high COVID-19 numbers. That day, Chesapeake had the second highest cases since their record of 126 on July 25. The day before, the city reported the third highest cases with 111.

Just last week, Dr. Cotton asked a team of school administrators and athletic directors to re-evaluate the district’s plans for winter sports. As a result, CPS announced it would pause all athletic practices through December 15. After the School Board's vote Monday, the district decided to extend its pause on athletics through the week of January 4.

The district will continue to provide meals to students at all school locations on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. during the period of online instruction.

A school spokesperson also wrote last week that Butts Road Intermediate had what officials call a “high number” of quarantined students and staff last week as a result of cases reported after Thanksgiving break. An exact number was not given at the time. Now, a new dashboard on the district website shows that 84 students and 20 staff members were under quarantine the week of November 30 - December 6.

While COVID-19 cases have been rising in the region, a spokesperson with the school district said the School Board's decision was due to the uptick in quarantines after Thanksgiving.

Click here for more Safely at School coverage.