Charlottesville School Board delays in-person return again citing COVID surge

Charlottesville School Board delays in-person return again citing COVID surge

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Students are no closer to going back to their classrooms in Charlottesville.

The Charlottesville School Board met on Thursday evening to discuss their possible return to face-to-face learning. Before the discussion, there were some leadership changes for the new year. Lisa Torres was named chair, and James Bryant was named vice-chair.

Then, the Torres-led board took a look at some of the data, shared below.

COVID-19 data presented at the Charlottesville School Board meeting on Jan. 7, 2021
COVID-19 data presented at the Charlottesville School Board meeting on Jan. 7, 2021 (Source: WVIR)
COVID-19 data presented at the Charlottesville School Board meeting on Jan. 7, 2021
COVID-19 data presented at the Charlottesville School Board meeting on Jan. 7, 2021 (Source: WVIR)

Charlottesville is in the high-risk category in cases per 100,00 people in the last 14 days, and the moderate risk category for percent positivity over the last 14 days.

“Are there any bright spots here that are not going in the wrong direction,” asked Board Member Sherry Kroft. “Not really,” responded Beth Baptist, who has been leading the school district’s coordination with the Blue Ridge Health District.

Last month, it looked like some elementary students would be heading back to the classroom starting on January 19. But after a roughly two-hour long broad, circular discussion about which students need help and whether or net setting a date is possible, the board voted 4-3 to move the scheduled return to March 8.

That, of course, can change.

Bryant, Kraft, Leah Puryear, and Juandiego Wade voted yes. Lashundra Bryson-Morsberger, Jennifer McKeever, and Torres voted no.

“I just want to have less of this anxiety being ramped up every time we have a meeting, and more certainty,” McKeever said.

“I just think we need to let it settle for a while, let the new administration come in, let the teachers get the vaccine, and the people that are coming into contact with students get the vaccine, and then we can do a little clearer picture,” Bryson-Morsberger said.

Vaccines are the bit of hope on the horizon. School workers are in Phase 1B, and Charlottesville schools have already submitted its numbers to the Blue Ridge Health District.

The School Board also updated its restraint and seclusion policies. It says that restraints should only come in emergencies, and only if a less-restrictive intervention is deemed ineffective.

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