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Public, private schools begin schedule adjustments in response to coronavirus outbreak

There will be no class for students in York County on March 13 and no class for students in Norfolk and Virginia Beach on March 16.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, some public school districts have begun making plans in an attempt to minimize the virus's potential impact on the community.

Newport News

March 17 update: After Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam ordered that all schools close for two weeks starting March 16, all Virginia public schools closed their doors and started finding creative ways to feed students who depend on free school meals. 

Peninsula Catholic High School, a private school, also decided to send students home on March 13. A release from that school said students would be continuing spring instruction using an online program they've been occasionally practicing with since 2016.

Norfolk

Norfolk Public Schools will be closed for students on Monday, March 16. It will serve as a planning day for teachers.

According to a letter from NPS Superintendent Sharon Byrdsong, the school division has developed a plan to provide students a teaching plan and assignments to complete at home if school closures for an extended period of time becomes necessary.

All field trips, extracurricular activities and athletics have been canceled until further notice.

Virginia Beach

The school district has set up a website with the latest FAQ and information concerning the coronavirus.

The school district had this information on their plans:

Schedule Changes

In order to prepare for the possibility of school closure, Monday, March 16, will be a Staff Day. There will be no school for students. This will give teachers time to work on lesson plans and activities and to arrange for virtual and alternative learning methods should they be required. More information about how the division is planning for the possibility of continuing instruction during a school closure will be shared in the coming days.

For eighth and 11th grade students, SOL testing will be pushed back by one day next week, taking place Wednesday and Thursday, March 18, and 19.  Any additional information regarding testing will be communicated as it becomes available.

After School Activities and Field Trips

While there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 within our schools, we are committed to protecting the health and safety of our entire community. Using Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance (see Page 4), we are following best mitigation strategies for an area considered to have “minimal to moderate” chance of impact by the COVID-19.

Because of this guidance, coupled with the recent request from the Governor’s office that localities limit large public gatherings, as of March 13, we are postponing all afterschool extracurricular and evening activities until further notice, with the exception of instructional support programs (for example, tutoring). This includes all athletics, school performances, dances, etc. We are also postponing all division wide events, including the Health and Wellness Expo scheduled for March 14 and the Career Expo scheduled for March 28. In addition, all field trips have now been postponed or canceled.

Volunteers and Visitors

We value and appreciate the many volunteers who contribute their time and effort to support student learning in our schools. In the interest of both our volunteer and student health, we are suspending volunteer opportunities until further notice. We look forward to welcoming them back into our classrooms when we are able. Similarly, no school visitors, other than those attending for official school business, will be permitted during the school day.

Student Attendance

Students who are ill must stay home. Doctor's notes are not necessary for approved absences at this time.

We understand some parents and students are concerned about attendance-based recognition and awards. Because we do not want to encourage sick students to come to school, we will not be counting any absences after March 1, 2020 toward these awards.

What You Can Do to Prepare

We strongly encourage you to review your own plans for a possible long-term closure of your child's school and consider the following:

  • Internet access --- If you do not have access to the internet at home, please contact your child's school so arrangements can be made for access or alternative learning methods.
  • Medication --- If your child takes medication during the regular school day, please get in touch with the school nurse so arrangements can be made to ensure the medication is available for pickup or at home.
  • Food services --- If you rely on the school to provide breakfast and lunch for your child, please know that there are several services available to assist you should the school be closed for an extended period. A comprehensive list of those sources is available here. VBCPS is also working with the city on this issue and more updates will be available soon.
  • Child care --- Please begin to make contingency plans for child care in the event of an extended school closure.

Again, we reiterate that there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in our schools at this time.

Please know that we are working to maintain the safety and well-being of our students and staff. We will continue to update our FAQ page at www.vbschools.com/COVID19 as new information becomes available.

Thank you for your support of Virginia Beach City Public Schools.

Chesapeake

Chesapeake Public Schools will close for students on Monday, March 16. Division employees will use that day to make plans for the possibility of an extended closure.

All afterschool events and extracurricular activities will be suspended starting Saturday, March 14. Afterschool childcare wil continue with the YMCA and Boys and Girls Club as long as schools remain open.

You can view the letter from CPS Superintendent Jared Cotton by clicking here.

Any updates within the Chesapeake school division will be posted here.

Suffolk

Suffolk Public Schools will be closed on Monday, March 16 as a student holiday. That day will also serve as a Teacher Work Day. Students are expected to return to school on Tuesday, March 17.

However, on March 17, student drop-off and pick-up will be adjusted to include parents/guardians dropping off or picking up their students at the front door or designated locations only. This policy will stay in effect until March 30.

All afterschool activities will be canceled starting Friday, March 13 until further notice.

All building rentals and facility use will be canceled until March 30. Additionally, all concerts, conferences, plays and field trips will be canceled until March 30.

SPS officials will post emergency and coronavirus-related information online. You can find that information by clicking here.

Suffolk Public Schools has created a Pandemic Response Plan that you can read here.

Williamsburg-James City County

All Williamsburg-James City County Schools will be closed from March 16 to March 27.

This comes after seven coronavirus cases were reported in James City County. A Williamsburg school volunteer tested positive for COVID-19.

The school division posted a notice to their website:

This decision comes after careful consideration and ongoing discussion with health department officials about confirmed cases of COVID 19 in our immediate area. Our focus during this extended closure is to provide students with resources and engaging activities that reinforce learning. Families, please take a few moments to review the packet of materials that was sent home with your child(ren) today and encourage them to complete all activities as instructed. Employees, please see your email for more information. 

You can find coronavirus-related updates for the school system here.

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York County

The York County School Division sent this update on school operations on Thursday evening:

To enable staff to work on components of this plan, tomorrow, Friday, March 13, 2020 will now be a designated student holiday and a staff workday for all employees. Transportation for Governor's School and New Horizons programs will be provided from high schools at the normal times.

As always, the safety and well-being of our students, staff and families is the top priority. Additional information regarding adjustments being implemented as of tomorrow Friday, March 13, has been provided to families and staff by email and is also available now on the division website. We will continue to provide families and staff updates and any changes in scheduling as information becomes available.

We would like to thank you for your continued support of the York County School Division as we have navigated through two unprecedented and complex situations, the Grafton electrical fire and the COVID-19 outbreak, in the last six weeks.

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