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Virginia Beach Public Schools lays out latest COVID-19 protocols while struggling with staffing in the new year

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Posted at 12:56 PM, Jan 06, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-06 17:38:13-05

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – The Virginia Beach City Public School district is communicating its latest COVID protocols while still dealing with a teacher shortage.

VBCPS is not alone, as other districts across Hampton Roads and the country are also facing staffing problems.

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.

A spokesperson for VBCPS said that right now, there are 111 instructional vacancies which include teachers, counselors, and library media specialists.

Meanwhile, the division is offering a pay increase for substitute teachers. A spokesperson says it is using CARES Act funding to offset the costs.

“We certainly are happy that the school division is doing what they can to encourage community members who are eligible to apply for substitute teaching to do that,” Slinde said. “We certainly would love people to apply to substitute for us and take some of the pressure off the school division and the instructors in the buildings.”

The pay advertised for January through June of 2022 is $125 a day for non-licensed and $135 a day for licensed subs. For more information and for an application, click here.

In an email sent Wednesday night to parents in the school district, VBCPS laid out some of its latest COVID protocols.

We have had many questions about why we haven’t considered a temporary switch to virtual learning. As a reminder, state law no longer allows us to move to virtual instruction as a school division. We are limited to making those decisions on a school-by-school, classroom-by-classroom basis. That said, our focus continues to be on keeping schools open and keeping our students and staff as safe as possible while they are in our buildings.

The e-mail also included updated protocols regarding quarantine and isolation based on new CDC guidance:

Starting Monday, Jan. 10, elementary and middle school students who have tested positive for COVID-19 or who have been advised to quarantine will now be able to return to school after five days of isolation or quarantine if they are asymptomatic or have been fever-free for more than 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing drugs and can effectively wear a mask. Those who have a mask waiver (and therefore cannot effectively wear a mask) will continue to isolate or quarantine for 10 days.

As a reminder, high school students who are asymptomatic are not required to quarantine from classes no matter their vaccination status. High school students who have tested positive for COVID-19 will now be able to return to school after five days of isolation as long as they are asymptomatic or have been fever-free for more than 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing drugs and are able to wear a mask effectively. Students participating in athletics or conditioning may not participate in these activities during the 10 days following the onset of symptoms (isolation period) or 10 days following their last close contact exposure (if they are unvaccinated or have not had COVID-19 in the last 90 days) due to their inability to wear a mask effectively during play.

Staff who have either tested positive for COVID-19 or who have been advised to quarantine will also be able to return to work after five days of quarantine or isolation as long as they are asymptomatic or have been fever-free for more than 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing drugs and are able to wear a mask effectively. As a reminder, fully-vaccinated employees, as well as employees who have had COVID-19 in the last 90 days and are asymptomatic after a COVID-19 exposure, are already exempt from quarantine. Employees must still contact their supervisor if they have tested positive for COVID-19 or are symptomatic.

Slinde added that she is hearing from some teachers who are feeling anxious about the rising COVID numbers in the community and feels that’s natural.

“School employees would want us to ask for the community to do what they can to keep the number of new cases down and to support the full-time instruction of students by doing so,” Slinde added.