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Virginia Beach moves ahead with in-person hybrid learning plan, despite rise in COVID cases

Dr. Aaron Spence told the school board on Tuesday that the virus doesn't appear to be spreading from schools, and that mitigation efforts in place are working.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Virginia Beach City Public Schools will move ahead with its plan to bring students back to the buildings this Thursday, despite a rise in COVID-19 cases.

Dr. Aaron Spence told the school board on Tuesday that the virus doesn't appear to be spreading from schools, and that mitigation efforts in place are working.

Spence did say the school division is concerned as everyone heads into the holidays, and what that might mean for the schools. He said the division is a reflection of the community.

Late last month, the Virginia Beach School Board approved its plan for students to return for in-person learning starting this Thursday, November 12. Since then, coronavirus cases and positivity rates have risen in Virginia Beach.

VBCPS administrators have said the transition from virtual to in-person learning for students must be based on COVID-19 metrics remaining stable or improving.

Right now, the Virginia Beach positivity rate is 6 percent, double what it was one month ago. The average number of cases per week is also on the rise.

However, both categories are still in the "yellow" zone designated by Virginia Beach schools, which allows for in-person instruction.

"After consulting with our medical experts, health services and the School Board, we have decided to move forward with the plan to return all secondary Option 1 students to in-person instruction Thursday, Nov. 12," the school division said in a letter to parents on Tuesday night.

The current plan allows for grades 7, 8, and 10 through 12 to return to school under a hybrid plan at least twice a week, if students chose that option.

About 40 percent of Virginia Beach students opted for virtual learning this entire semester. They will be allowed to stay at home.

For those who opted into the hybrid learning plan, the schedule beginning November 12 is as follows:

Elementary School

  • All pre-K – fifth-grade students will continue with their current schedule (Option 1 and 2)

Middle School*

  • Sixth-grade students who chose Option 1 will continue reporting to school for in-person learning Tuesday thru Friday.
  • Seventh-grade students (Option 1) will attend school face-to-face Tuesday and Wednesday each week, and they will continue with remote learning Monday, Thursday, and Friday.
  • Eighth-grade students (Option 1) will attend school face-to-face Thursday and Friday each week, and they will continue with remote learning Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.
  • Option 2 Middle School students will continue with remote learning Monday – Friday.

High School*

  • High school will bring back all Option 1 students in grades 9-12 with last names starting with “A” through “K” Tuesday and Wednesday each week. These students will continue with remote learning Monday, Thursday, and Friday.
  • High school will bring back all Option 1 students in grades 9-12 with last names starting with “L” through “Z” Thursday and Friday each week, and they will continue with remote learning Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.
  • Option 2 High School students will continue with remote learning Monday – Friday.

*For Option 1 middle and high school students in grades 7-12 who will return to school two days a week, Monday will continue to be reserved for asynchronous learning, but the remaining two remote days will be used for synchronous (live) learning in each class period.

Specific bell schedules are available on the VBCPS website.