In-person instruction resumes at several southwest and central Virginia schools on Monday following coronavirus closures, staff shortages

Back to School

(WFXR) — A number of elementary, middle, and high schools around southwest and central Virginia — as well as a local university — are reopening classrooms for in-person learning on Monday after those schools temporarily closed down or switched to virtual instruction amid concerns about coronavirus cases and/or staffing shortages.

Amherst County Public Schools — which closed all schools earlier this month because of coronavirus concerns — will bring students back into the classroom on Monday, Sept. 13.

The district originally closed all secondary schools from Thursday, Aug. 26 through Thursday, Sept. 2 because of a COVID-19 outbreak. However, the results of a community testing event led both school and health officials to decide that the district could not operate safely, thus expanding the closure to all public schools in Amherst County.

Amherst County Public Schools also treated the closure lie an inclement weather closure, meaning there was no in-person or virtual learning, transportation, or meals available from Friday, Sept. 3 through Friday, Sept. 10.

When students return on Monday, school officials urge parents to not only screen your kids at home before sending them to school each day, but also to report any positive COVID-19 test results to your school immediately.

Craig County Public Schools is also set to open back up on Monday after face-to-face instruction was suspended from Wednesday through Friday because of a staff shortage.

That announcement came after the district had already closed schools on Tuesday, Sept. 7 to conduct contact tracing due to coronavirus exposures among students and staff that occurred over the Labor Day weekend.

According to the Craig County Public Schools website, the district will operate on a regular schedule on Monday.

In Giles County, school leaders are still planning to reopen classrooms on Monday after switching to virtual learning for three days last week amid a high coronavirus transmission rate in the community.

Monday’s reopening comes after Giles County Public Schools’ number of positive COVID-19 cases nearly tripled in the span of a week, going from 26 cases as of Thursday, Sept. 2 to 74 cases as of Thursday, Sept. 9.

When students go back to school in Giles County on Monday, the district says that masks will be required for everyone within the school building and on school transportation. If someone refuses to wear a mask in school, officials say they will contact parents/guardians to pick up their child.

On a collegiate level, Liberty University’s classes will restart in-person instruction on Monday — with a digital instruction component still available — after the university’s campus-wide quarantine period ended over the weekend.

University officials did release some new guidance on Friday, saying they plan to prioritize “both health and freedom” moving forward.

For example, masks, physical distancing, and vaccinations are encouraged, but not required. In addition, indoor sports, events, and activities are limited to 50 percent capacity.

This news comes after Liberty University reported more than 400 active coronavirus cases and more than 1,800 people under quarantine as of Wednesday.

However, there are still a couple of school districts dealing with virtual learning this week.

Bath County Public Schools has paused in-person instruction from Wednesday, Sept. 8 through Friday, Sept. 17 amid a shortage in transportation staff members, thus preventing the operation of school bus routes.

In addition, the Bath County School Board’s September meeting has been moved up a day and will now take place on Thursday, Sept. 16.

Meanwhile, due to staffing shortages within Pulaski County Public Schools, school officials say that students at Pulaski County High School will have a “synchronous virtual instruction” day this Monday. Then, Pulaski County Middle School students will have a designated remote learning day this Friday.

During these remote learning days, the district says students will not report to their respective schools. Instead, they are asked to participate in virtual classes during the times that they would have attended in-person instruction. 

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