HENRICO Co., Va. (WWBT) - As COVID-19 cases continue to rise across Virginia, the Henrico County Public Schools Health Committee met Monday to review the latest data for COVID-19 in the area and discuss any possible changes to the in-person learning timeline.
In October 2020, the school board voted 4-1 to expand optional in-person learning opportunities for students during the second nine weeks.
On Nov. 16, 2020, Superintendent Dr. Amy Cashwell made the decision to delay the expansion of optional in-person learning for students until Jan. 11, 2021, due to a rise in COVID-19 cases.
When Cashwell made the November decision, the 7-day average was 14.9 new cases per 100,000 people. On Monday, the Virginia Department of Health reported that average as 55.6 new cases per 100,000 people.
“I think looking at where the numbers are right now, the cases and numbers are so high, I do think the health committee will be choosing for us to continue virtual,” said Kathy Woodard, a teacher with HCPS.
Due to winter break and the possibility of traveling for the holidays, students will learn virtually Jan. 4-8.
Currently, the timeline to expand in-person learning opportunities will continue.
Pre-K through second graders is the first group allowed back inside the classroom on Jan. 11. However, many parents and teachers are awaiting any possible changes made by the health committee on Monday.
The HCPS Health Committee typically meets a few times every month to review COVID-19 data in the area. During those meetings, committee members look at specific data from a 14-day period.
As of Monday, VDH reported the total number of new cases per 100,000 people in the last 14 days is at nearly 669.
That is one data point the health committee uses to assess the likelihood of COVID introduction or transmission in schools.
“I think as soon as they can make a decision, it will help everyone move forward with planning as effectively as possible,” Woodard said. “I do understand they are really trying to wait and get all the data they can, that’s most up to date… It’s just really important that we all stay positive with whatever decision is made.”
However, the school system is prepared for any adjustments.
“If there need to be any changes to our timeline for expanding in-person learning (currently planned to begin on Jan. 11 for grades preK through 2), we will communicate with you as soon as possible,” HCPS said in a social media post.
The current expanded in-person learning timeline is as follows:
- The return to in-person learning for students in grades pre-K through 2 who chose this option will begin Jan. 11, 2021 (the return date had been November 30.) Virtual learning with currently assigned teacher(s) and current daily schedule will continue until the Jan. 11 date.
- The return to in-person learning for students in grades 3-5 who chose this option will begin Jan. 14, 2021 (the return date had been Dec. 7.) Virtual learning with currently assigned teacher(s) and current daily schedule will continue until the Jan. 14 date. (Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021, is a virtual learning day for all students.)
- The return to in-person learning for students in grades 6 and 9 who chose this option remains Feb. 1, 2021.
- The return to in-person learning for students in grades 7, 8, 10, 11 and 12 who chose this option remains Feb. 4, 2021.
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