What Central Virginia school districts are doing in wake of coronavirus

Local News

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — As coronavirus cases continue to pop up around the state, local school divisions are taking steps to make sure students and staff remain safe.

Here’s what’s going on in your child’s school district:

COMPLETE COVERAGE: Coronavirus pandemic

Richmond

Jason Kamras, superintendent of Richmond Public Schools, announced schools will be closed for at least two weeks Thursday afternoon, beginning Friday. The news comes after the decision to cancel all school and division sponsored travel outside of the Richmond area for students and staff starting March 12. They also told parents to be prepared for the possibility of school cancellation if they have a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the school community.

In addition, Kamras said he would ask the School Board to reallocate $500,000 from the schools’ budget towards supplies and services dedicated to preparing for and responding to COVID-19 at Monday’s meeting.

He also said they were coordinating closing with the Richmond City Health department to guide their efforts, and the superintendent was in contact with the director, Danny Avula, on a daily basis.

“We will just continue to monitor this closely and in my conversations with the health department if we feel that it’s the right call in the interest of student and staff safety and health we’re going to do it,” Kamras said.

Chesterfield

Chesterfield County Public Schools announced Friday that all schools will be closed effective Saturday, March 14, through at least Friday, March 27.

On Thursday, Chesterfield County announced all schools will be closed Friday to allow staff members to clean and prepare for a potential long-term closure due to coronavirus.

On Wednesday, CCPS said all school and school division trips outside of the state are canceled through April 13, including trips to Washington D.C. and staff meetings and conferences. They said they would also keep an eye on Northern Virginia and alter travel restrictions as needed.

The division also said they are keeping an eye on updates related to COVID-19 and have implemented “an aggressive cleaning schedule in schools.”

Henrico

All Henrico County Public Schools will be closed to students for two full weeks beginning Monday, March 16, through Friday, March 27. The news comes after the county postponed all school division sponsored trips outside the Richmond area through April 13. They added staff would get separate guidance from supervisors about job-related travel.

Hanover

Hanover County Public Schools will be closed to students March 16-27 — a decision that will be reassessed to determine if any further closures are necessary beyond the 27. More specific guidance is forthcoming for teachers and staff.

They suggest parents update their child’s school contact information on Blackboard.

“We understand this is a significant disruption to your daily lives, and we do not make these decisions lightly.  We believe this is the best decision possible to help protect the health and safety of our students, families, staff, and community.  We continue to ask for your patience, understanding, and support as we navigate this difficult and unprecedented situation in our community and country.  

In the meantime, we continue to work hard at all levels to help provide support to our students and families during the closure.  In the coming days, we will communicate further details about our plan to provide students with instructional materials, as well as other resources and supports.

As always, thank you for your continued support of our efforts to help keep our students and staff healthy and safe.”

Sincerely,
Dr. Michael Gill
Superintendent of Schools

Colonial Heights

Colonial Heights Public Schools Superintendent Dr. William Sroufe announced Wednesday that Monday, March 16 would be changed to a ‘staff development and student holiday’ on the school calendar in order to prepare for the possibility of ‘distance learning’ in the event of a school closure. The day will also give their maintenance staff the opportunity to conduct and extensive deep cleaning of all school buildings.

Teachers will be trained and refreshed on remote instructional delivery models in preparation for when the students return to school on Tuesday, March 17. There will be time for students to receive training about online instruction and other methods. The school district is calling it a ‘Digital Learning Day.’

“Although we know that remote instruction is not ideal and there will be some obstacles, we hope that by planning and preparing thoroughly, we can work through those challenges in advance. We will adjust this plan as necessary. Our main goal will be to provide continued instruction, in a safe and equitable manner, so that students maintain current levels and continue to progress. Some considerations that are being discussed include:

· Sending laptops home with students in Grades 3-5
· Providing alternative learning materials for students in PreK-2nd
· Planning to meet goals and objectives for students with IEPs
· Delivering instructional materials to students without internet access
· Ensuring that families with food insecurities have access to meals

As always, thank you for your continued support of our students and our schools. We will work through this together.”

Colonial Heights Public Schools

Hopewell

Hopewell City Public Schools announced Thursday morning it was closing schools on March 16 to allow teachers and staff to prepare packets of work in case the schools close for a prolonged period of time. They added parents should also begin planning for extended school closures in the future.

In addition, the district said they would be restricting all field trips to within the Richmond area.

New Kent County

New Kent County Public Schools announced Thursday it closing all schools to students on Monday, March 16. Staff will work to prepare additional instructional materials in the event that schools are closed for an extended period of time.

The school district adds that there are currently no confirmed cases of individuals that have tested ‘presumptive positive for coronavirus in New Kent County.

Powhatan

Powhatan County Public Schools announced Thursday evening it was closing schools starting March 16 through Friday, March 27. At this time, there is no plan to adjust the previously scheduled Spring Break (April 6-10).

Teachers and staff will use Monday, March 16 and Tuesday, March 17 to continue their preparations. Here are some guidelines to help families with their efforts.

  • Directions for Instruction during this period will be communicated on Friday, March 13.
  • Paper packets of materials will be provided for all elementary students in addition to information about online resources.
  • Internet access will be made available at PCPS schools as hubs for those families who need it. Details will be shared once finalized.
  • Parents/Guardians of students in grades 2-5 will have the opportunity to check out Chromebooks on March 13, 16, or 17 to support at-home learning.
  • Medication currently stored in the school clinic may also be picked up by an adult on March 13, 16, or 17 if needed.


Here are some general tips recommended by school districts to prevent the spread include:

  • If your child has symptoms of illness, they encourage parents to keep them home and returning to school too early could delay the recovery of the illness and expose others.
  • Practice good hygiene like covering your mouth and nose when you cough and sneeze, and wash your hand with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • If your family travels abroad for spring break to a country with a Level 3 Travel Notice, China, Italy, Iran and South Korea, you should stay home for 14 days after returning.

For more coronavirus coverage, click here.

This is a developing story, we will update as more information comes in.

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