NEWPORT NEWS, Va. - It will be a little longer until students in Newport News can return to the classroom.
Newport News Public Schools Superintendent Dr. George Parker III announced he has decided to suspend the Phase II timeline for the transition to in-person, hybrid instruction, which was scheduled to start on Monday, January 11.
Over winter break, Parker and the district's leadership team closely monitored local COVID-19 metrics. He made the decision after learning the entire Eastern Region of the state is still in the highest case rate level and that Newport News is also in the highest risk category at 643 cases per 100,000. He added that the positivity rate in Newport News is 17.6% and is increasing.
As detailed in the district's Return to Learn Plan, and on the COVID-19 dashboard, when the Eastern Region, Peninsula or Newport News COVID-19 health metrics are in the highest risk category, virtual instruction will continue and hybrid instruction will be delayed until COVID-19 metrics fall below the highest risk category for the Eastern Region, the Peninsula and Newport News.
Parker says this week, school officials are expecting additional guidance and information from Gov. Ralph Northam, the Virginia Department of Health and the State Superintendent of Public Instruction about the state’s ongoing response to COVID-19. School officials will continue to monitor COVID-19 cases and transmission rates while following all protocols outlined by the state and the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.
He added that Newport News Public Schools is implementing some additional measures. School offices will serve families and visitors by appointment only until further notice. Parents and guardians are asked to call the school office and schedule a time to visit. All administrative offices will continue to serve walk-in visitors (though appointments are encouraged) while observing all CDC mitigation strategies. All visitors and staff must wear face masks and maintain a physical distance of six feet when visiting NNPS schools and offices.
The district will keep parents and families informed with regular updates throughout the month.