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School officials in Chesapeake update COVID-19 protocols after recent surge in cases

Chesapeake Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Jared Cotton provided information about the COVID-19 contingency plan.

CHESAPEAKE, Va. — Chesapeake School Board members provided an update to families of their plan to deal with the surge of COVID-19 cases. This comes after six schools are back to virtual learning this week.

“Don’t tell parents that all schools can go virtual in the presence of exploding case numbers and absenteeism due to the law and vote down the road to get rid of mandatory masking," said Chesapeake resident Jenny Gnadt in front of school board members.

More than 30 residents expressed concerns about COVID-19 mitigation plans, including Gnadt.

“I am advocating for Chesapeake public schools to make sound responsible decisions as we navigate through this pandemic to protect all of our children the best we can," said Gnadt.

Chesapeake Public Schools' latest COVID-19 data shows 840 students and staff are under quarantine as of December, as well as the latest number of COVID-19 cases.

“As of we have a new case total of 169. It is important to note that our dashboard only reflects cases when the individual has been on campus within the last 14 calendar days," said Chesapeake Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Jared Cotton.

On Monday, Dr. Cotton provided more information about the COVID-19 contingency plan to families. 

The plan explains the levels of school impact: low, medium, and high which is based on transmission, the number of absent students, and staffing. School leaders will look at the data to determine each level and possible change to virtual learning.

“We’ve communicated with parents that this shift is expected for a minimum of five days and we hope five schools days will be all that we need," said Dr. Cotton.

Right now, nine schools are at a yellow or medium level of school impact and six are in red or at the high level.

Credit: Chesapeake Public Schools

Another update is CPS is now requiring registration to get a COVID-19 test at their three school sites and testing is available for only asymptomatic students and employees.

“It’s not meant for everyone who wants to test it’s meant for people to test who have been exposed or have been in close contact.”

School leaders also plan on expanding their virtual academy in the 2022-2023 school year.

This includes more full-time opportunities for students K through 12-grade levels. Parents can apply for the academy next week.