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Dinwiddie Schools dealing with 'overwhelming' COVID issues

Posted at 11:10 AM, Jan 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-11 17:30:43-05

DINWIDDIE COUNTY, Va. -- The superintendent of Dinwiddie Schools may soon recommend schools switch to virtual learning as an "overwhelming number of students and staff members out for COVID-related illnesses and exposures."

Dr. Kari Weston addressed the issue in a Facebook post on January 8 to give parents some notice ahead of a Dinwiddie County School Board meeting on Tuesday, January 12.

Dinwiddie students phased into in-person learning (by grade level) starting in late September.

"Since reopening, our schools have been the safest places for our students to learn and our staff to work as we have seen no related cases. While that still is true, the most recent data suggests that this may not be the case for much longer," Weston wrote. "Currently, there is a widespread and increasing community spread, and we are now seeing an overwhelming number of students and staff members out for COVID-related illnesses and exposures. These absences, normal seasonal illnesses, non-health-related leave requests, limited substitute pools, and worry about contracting and/or transmitting the virus, is straining and overwhelming our extremely dedicated but overstretched staff."

Weston said while teachers and school staff want schools to be fully open, it may not be possible until vaccinations were made available. Teachers are part of the Phase 1b vaccination plan in Virginia which began this week.

It was not immediately clear when vaccines would be available for Dinwiddie teachers.

Weston said she would recommend all Dinwiddie County Public Schools temporarily return to virtual instruction if the numbers have not improved.

"We all want in-person learning to remain an option for our families," she wrote. "But that can only happen if our staff and students' safety and welfare is not compromised. You can assist in this endeavor by taking care of yourself, keeping all illnesses out of our schools and offices, and adhering to the [COVID-19 related] restrictions."

This is a developing story.