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Chesapeake School Board votes unanimously to remain in current status as city reports highest case increase since July

Posted at 5:23 PM, Nov 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-24 09:24:52-05

CHESAPEAKE, Va. - The Chesapeake School Board has voted unanimously to make no changes to their current operating status.

At an emergency school board meeting on Monday, Superintendent Dr. Jared 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.

On Monday, Chesapeake had the second highest cases since their record of 126 on July 25. On Sunday, Chesapeake reported the third highest cases with 111.

Earlier in the school year, families were provided a choice to have their child learn on-campus on the On-Campus Continuum (Option 1), or they could choose a 100% online learning option (Option 2). Currently, Option 1 elementary-aged students (grades PK-5) attend school on the Traditional Model, five days per week, while Option 1 students at grades 6-12 are operating on the Blended Model, with students reporting to campus two days per week and learning from home for the remaining three days.

Cotton presented a new data dashboard that details the total number of new positive COVID-19 test results reported over a 14-day period at each location

“Using this report, you can see the presence of the disease is not concentrated in any one building or area, but instead is somewhat evenly distributed across the district. You can also see that at this point in time, there are no outbreaks in progress in our schools or support buildings, meaning there are no school epi-links at this time,” Cotton stated. “If we are to shift our focus inward on the presence of the disease on our school campuses, then I think we need to provide that level of information to the public as well, so we are all on the same page.”

Instead of making changes for the district, the school board voted to support the superintendents recommendation to stay the course, but provide him the flexibility to change the instructional model in place at individual schools, if needed, without Board action.

Changes could be made in the case that there was a rise in cases at one particular school or if community-spread of the virus impacted the schools’ ability to operate efficiently.

Cotton stated, “This way we can address concerns at a particular building based on building- or school-level data without disrupting the on-campus learning for all students across the district. It is our hope that an issue in one particular location could be addressed without causing the district to shift as a whole.”