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Newport News teacher expresses COVID-19 concerns as new school year begins

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Posted at 5:43 PM, Sep 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-06 23:06:27-04

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — On top of the stresses of a normal school year, some teachers are mentally preparing for the worst that COVID-19 could bring to their classroom.

“I've never felt this uncertain this close to game time,” said Menchville High School math teacher Kyle Lumsden.

Kyle tells News 3 he’s worried the school system isn’t fully prepared to respond or mitigate that virus’s spread.

“We're just getting document after document that is either insufficient, contradicts itself, contradicts guidance from the VDH [Virginia Department of Health] and other bodies,” he said.

The Newport News Public Schools division’s website has information about the daily health screening for all students, staff and visitors.

The site also says that throughout the year, health services workers will educate everyone about how to mitigate the spread of COVID.

According to the guidance, individuals are expected to stay home for 10 days if they have symptoms and 14 days if they have had close contact with someone with symptoms.

However, Kyle and his wife, Elizabeth, still have questions - like if they will know whether a child in their son’s class tests positive and what type of test should be used if people think they may have coronavirus.

“We would appreciate it if there was clarity given across the school system for everybody to know, 'Here's what I need to get done.' You know, you can be proactive earlier to schedule that test farther in advance if you know what's going to be asked,” said Elizabeth.

Eight-year-old Matthew is supposed to be starting his first day of third grade Wednesday, but he’s recovering from a COVID-19 case. Due to the high demand for PCR tests, the family likely won’t get results back until later in the week.

Elizabeth is vaccinated but still got a breakthrough case of COVID, likely from her son. She knows firsthand the misery of getting infected.

“It was constant pain, it was headaches, it was digestive issues. It's really, really hard to be low, still worried about checking oxygen on your son, who has asthma and trying to make sense of information that you're encountering from various people that you view as health professionals," she said.

Kyle is excited to be back in school with his students and his colleagues but hopes more guidance comes sooner rather than later.

“I don't feel scared for myself; I feel scared for my students - that if they get sick themselves because many of them, even though they're old enough to get vaccinated, many of them aren't,” said Kyle.

Click here for more Safely at School coverage.