CHESAPEAKE, Va. - Starting Monday, Jan. 10, six Chesapeake schools will temporarily go virtual because of rising COVID cases within the school division.
"Unfortunately, due to the current surge of cases in our area, several of our schools have recently shifted to YELLOW status, meaning these school communities should prepare for the possibility of a temporary period of online instruction in the near future," Cotton wrote in a message to parents this week.
The school division lists eight schools currently in yellow status and says there are 12 outbreaks in progress on its COVID dashboard.
According to the Chesapeake Public Schools COVID data dashboard, he following schools are in "RED / HIGH impact" from COVID:
- Portlock Primary
- Rena B Wright Primary
- Truitt Intermediate
- Great Bridge Middle
- Hugo Owens Middle
- Oscar Smith Middle
Those schools in red will shift to virtual learning, according to the school district's COVID-19 guidelines.
A spokesperson for CPS confirmed that the above schools will move to virtual learning for a minimum of five days. The schools' principals made the following phone call to families Friday:
Good afternoon, this is [PRINCIPAL NAME], principal of [SCHOOL NAME], with an important announcement for the SCHOOL NAME community.
Unfortunately, the level of impact COVID-19 has had on our school has worsened. As a result, our school status has shifted to RED, or high, and our operating schedule will change. Beginning Monday, January 10, [SCHOOL NAME] will shift to online learning for a minimum of five school days.
Please check your email for additional important details.
We will continue to assess our ability to resume in-person instruction based on case
data and staff capacity next week. On Thursday, January 13, we will provide an update to families regarding our mode of instruction for January 18-21, 2022.
To repeat, our school status has moved to RED, and [SCHOOL NAME] will begin temporary online learning on Monday, January 10.
Please know that health and safety remains our top priority. After reviewing your email, if you have any additional questions, please contact the main office at [SCHOOL PHONE]. We appreciate your continued support and understanding.
After assessing the situation, on Jan. 13, school officials will update families on the next move for the week of Jan. 18-21.
Dr. Cotton also addressed the school board about the latest health metrics in the school division at last week's meeting.
Cotton said Chesapeake Health District Director Dr. Nancy Welch recommended the school division go virtual for two weeks following winter break.
Cotton said he didn't think that was allowable due to a state law requiring in-person learning options be offered, but said any decisions would be made on an individual school level.
"What I need our community to know is that we will probably have schools moving into yellow starting next week and what that means is without a lot of notice individual schools could be moving to virtual. What that means is that we'll have to notify those parents that their students will have to work from home," Cotton said.
News 3 spoke with a parent named Matthew Castillo. He has two sons in the school division, including one who attends a school in yellow status.
"In person learning is certainly the better option. It's superior to virtual learning for sure. I think waiting for things to come down and allowing the cases that are existing now to peter out is definitely the best plan," he said. "I don't think it should be a permanent for the rest of the year. I think just long enough for the cases to come back down."
Virginia Beach school leaders are also dealing with questions and concerns about rising COVID cases in the city.
Kathleen Slinde, the president of the Virginia Beach Education Association, says that on Monday, January 3, the first day back after winter break, 160 teachers called out in the Virginia Beach school district. It’s not clear whether those absences were COVID-related.
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