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6 Chesapeake schools to return to in-person learning; Suffolk moves 3 to virtual

As six Chesapeake schools that switched to virtual learning move back to the classroom next week, three Suffolk elementary schools will be switching to virtual.

CHESAPEAKE, Va. — Six Chesapeake schools that switched to virtual learning are moving back to the classroom next week.

Great Bridge Middle, Hugo Owens Middle, Oscar Smith Middle, Portlock Primary, Rena B. Wright Primary, and Truitt Intermediate will move back to "yellow status" on Tuesday, January 18.

Chesapeake Public Schools' color status -- green, yellow, and red -- factors the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases and outbreaks in a school, how many staff are out of class, and how many students are out.

The six schools temporarily made the switch to "red status," effective January 10. The school system said it has been monitoring the impact of COVID-19 in the area and determined that students can go back to in-person learning.

Chesapeake Public Schools said students and staff will need to stay prepared for a potential shift back to online learning if needed.

The school system is requiring those who enter the schools to wear a mask, and those experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 to stay home.

That’s the same approach Suffolk Public Schools is taking.

“We actually evaluate every day so I have several other schools that are on the watchlist," said Suffolk Superintendent Dr. John Gordon. 

Gordon said three elementary schools are moving to virtual instruction next week: Kilby Shores, Mack Benn, and Southwestern.

“One day at Mack Benn I think we had to close, like, three or four classrooms," Gordon said.

He said virtual learning is one of his team’s last resorts, but rising COVID cases and quarantines at some schools forced their hand.

“We are always going to take every necessary precaution to keep our staff and students safe," Gordon said. 

Division leaders in Chesapeake and Suffolk say they will assess any schools moved to virtual learning after a five-day period. 

On Friday, January 13, the Chesapeake School Division is holding a COVID testing clinic for students and staff who are asymptomatic. You can find that information here.