Hanover High suspends in-person learning: 'We have exhausted all possible options'

Posted at 5:55 PM, Dec 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-11 18:22:12-05

HANOVER COUNTY, Va. -- Hanover High School will end face-to-face learning and move to all virtual classes beginning Monday and through the start of winter break, administrators announced Friday.

"After careful consideration, we have made the difficult and necessary decision to suspend face-to-face instruction for all students at HHS and transition the school to remote learning, as outlined in our Return to Learn Plan," officials said in a post on the school's website. "The change is effective immediately and extends through Friday, December 18. We plan to reopen HHS on Monday, January 4, 2021, which is the first day after Winter Break."

The district aims to make the "transition as smooth as possible, understanding that this will require teamwork, cooperation, and patience."

"We do not make this decision lightly as we understand that this is a significant disruption to your daily lives," officials wrote. "Please be assured that we have exhausted all possible options to continue face-to-face instruction at HHS. We believe, however, that this is the best decision possible to help address the recent and ongoing staffing constraints at HHS caused by COVID-19.

Administrators said none of the county's other schools were affected by the change.

Officials said Principal Kris Reece would communicate additional details about remote instruction learning as well as specific info for teachers and staff.

Parents were asked to keep "doing everything possible to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19. This will help to keep our community healthy and our schools open."

More information from Hanover County Public Schools:

Why is HHS temporarily closing?

As we have shared with you recently, there has been a noticeable increase in the number of positive COVID-19 cases in our county and schools. This is causing staffing limitations, especially at some of our middle and high schools, and we have been monitoring this very closely.

While our Return to Learn plan assumes that cases will occur, there have been more cases — and subsequent quarantines — at HHS than any other school in the division, particularly over the past two weeks. This has resulted in considerable employee absences due to illness or quarantining, especially in areas that are vital to our daily face-to-face operations at HHS. As a result, we believe that we have reached a critical point where we are no longer able to sustain effectively our in-person operations.

What are the plans to resume face-to-face instruction?
We plan to reopen HHS on Monday, January 4, 2021, which is the first day after Winter Break, assuming these concerns have been resolved. In the meantime, all students and staff will transition to remote learning through December 18, as outlined in our Return to Learn Plan.
We will confirm our plan to reopen HHS with you no later than Thursday, December 31 via email and Schoology.

Are other schools closing as well?
No. HHS is the only school currently temporarily closing due to COVID-19. We plan to continue providing face-to-face instruction at all remaining schools. However, as noted above, the increase in positive COVID-19 cases and related effects is occurring at other schools in the division as well. We will continue to examine carefully the status of face-to-face learning at every school and communicate any related decisions that may be necessary.

What data do you use to assess a COVID-related school closure?
This work is highly complex and a simple formula does not exist. Rather, we recognize that there are many considerations that factor into our decision-making, and they are often unique to each school, job function, and level. We continue to evaluate a wide variety of health-related data and guidance daily in conjunction with Chickahominy Health District officials. We approach this on a case-by-case and school-by-school basis.

How does this impact students in specialty programs?
Students who travel for specialty center classes at Hanover High School from other schools will be able to join the class via Zoom from either their home school or from home, depending upon their individual travel arrangements. Students who need a space in their home schools will be provided one.

Depend on CBS 6 News and for the most complete coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic.

COVID-19 Precautions

Most patients with COVID-19 have mild to moderate symptoms. However, in a small proportion of patients, COVID-19 can lead to more severe illness, including death, particularly among those who are older or those who have chronic medical conditions.

COVID-19 spreads primarily through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

Symptoms include fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. Symptoms appear within 14 days of being exposed to an infectious person.

Virginia health officials urged the following precautions:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer only if soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Avoid contact with sick people.
  • Avoid non-essential travel.