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Henrico schools to delay in-person reopening due to rising COVID-19 cases

Posted at 5:16 PM, Nov 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-16 18:17:30-05

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- Henrico County Schools say they are delaying their timeline for in-person learning as COVID-19 cases rise in the region.

In a message to families Monday, Superintendent Amy Cashwell announced, with the School Board's support, the county would delay the expansion of in-person learning for students, which was scheduled to begin in phases on November 30.

"Like many of you, the health committee and I are concerned about the spike in numbers related to COVID-19 in this region," wrote Cashwell. "When our approach was adopted back in October, the core metrics for the local area and region inspired more confidence in expanding in-person learning than they do today."

Since then, the Henrico County Public School's Health Committee has reported that two of the three core indicators they watch have each increased significantly

"The number of new cases per 100,000 people over a 14-day period has risen to the highest risk level, and the percentage of positive tests in our region has seen a sharp increase. The third metric, related to the ability of HCPS to implement mitigation strategies, remains at the lowest risk level," she continued.

"The sharp increases in two of the three core metrics is of concern to me and to our Health Committee."

Cashwell says the adjusted timeline will allow families time to prepare and make necessary arrangements:

  • All limited in-person learning scheduled during the weeks of Nov. 30-Dec. 4 and Jan. 4-8 will be cancelled. This accounts for the weeks directly following Thanksgiving and Winter Break. All learning will occur virtually during these two weeks. The physical buildings (schools and offices) will be closed to the public during these times.
  • During the weeks of Dec. 7-11 and Dec. 14-18, limited in-person learning opportunities will resume as they normally would.
  • The return to in-person learning for students in grades PreK-2 who chose this option will be delayed until 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 be delayed until 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 February (second semester) return dates for middle and high school in-person learning remain as planned.
  • Student intentions that were given earlier this month will remain in effect. Our schools will remain flexible, as space permits, when there are extenuating circumstances.
  • Child care services through HCPS partner organizations expect to remain open until at least the beginning of Winter Break.
  • As for winter sports and other extracurriculars, student-athletes can expect to hear more about changing timelines from their schools and coaches.

"I believe that this adjustment is the most prudent course to protect the health and safety of our staff, students and community," wrote Cashwell.

Although returning to the classroom has been delayed, the superintendent says the county remains committed to bringing students back to the classroom for in-person learning.

"I appreciate our employees, students and families for helping us achieve this goal," she added.