AUGUSTA COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) - Augusta County Schools anticipates its students will return to the classroom next week as planned after a post-winter break week of virtual learning.
School leaders are moving forward after checking COVID trends.
The school board met Thursday night for its monthly meeting to get that update from Superintendent Dr. Eric Bond. According to Bond, the number of COVID-19 positive cases remains lower than one percent of total students and staff.
Out of more than 12,000 students and staff, only 19 have active cases of COVID-19.
“This makes me think our staff has done a phenomenal job at keeping these numbers down,” said school board member Dr. John Ocheltree.
Bond says the principals are ready, and he’s also spoken with the Central Shenandoah Health District Director about the cases in the schools and the CDC dashboard. Augusta County is ranked in the highest risk category, like many other localities right now.
“She, like all of us, she is worried about not only the spike in the county but also the spike in district, her district if you will,” said Bond.
But with the low numbers in the school, and as long as Augusta Schools are willing to go to a virtual classroom or virtual school in a day’s notice, Dr. Laura Kornegay is good with the plan.
“She feels comfortable with moving forward next week, getting back engaged with our hybrid program, as do I,” stated Bond.
“The people that I’ve spoken to indicated that faculty is concerned, faculty is scared,” said school board member Donna Wells. “And, it’s not just the possibility of contracting the virus, but also of having to quarantine.”
The School Board voted to approve additional paid leave benefits to teachers and staff who must quarantine due to exposure.
“We have to keep wearing our masks. We have to keep socially distanced. We have to keep washing our hands frequently if we want our educational system to continue to work. And, if we want our athletic programs to continue to work,” said Bond. “That is the only thing, and all stakeholders have to buy in.”
School nurses are getting vaccinations this week, and the tentative timeline for teacher vaccinations, according to Bond, is the end of January, beginning of February.