Parents frustrated with quick decision to close Lakeview Elementary after multiple COVID-19 cases reported

Local News

COLONIAL HEIGHTS, Va. (WRIC) — Students and staff at Lakeview Elementary School switched from in-person instruction to virtual learning on after three recent cases of COVID-19 popped up in the school.

Colonial Heights Public Schools made the decision to close the building on Sunday afternoon.

The school district said families will be contacted if it is possible that their child was exposed to the virus.

All families were contacted with details on virtual learning, parent sessions and Chromebook pick up dates, according to the school district.

Some parents told 8News they were frustrated about the last minute switch.

Jessica Blackburn felt comfortable sending her first grade student back to school in-person at Lakeview. “I feel like they sanitize and do what they’re supposed to,” she said.

Blackburn, a single parent, was frustrated after seeing the school system’s Facebook post around 6 p.m. Sunday evening. She soon got a message from the principal as well.

“I don’t see why they couldn’t (have announced it) Saturday night or early Sunday morning, a little bit more time to get us prepared to get our kids to go virtual,” Blackburn told 8News.

“We understand that families certainly have to drop back and do something different for the next couple of days or the next week or so, depending upon how fast we can get the school back open. From the very beginning, we’ve told our families to be ready at a moment’s notice to go all virtual,” Superintendent Dr. William Sroufe said.

Sroufe told 8News he was notified about the school’s first COVID-19 case on Oct. 23 and a second case on Sunday morning. A third case was confirmed Monday.

The school system consulted with the Virginia Department of Health on Sunday, which recommended that the school close. “It took us about until 3:30 (Sunday afternoon) when we finally got an answer from VDH on what the decision should be,” said Sroufe.

He said teachers and staff at Lakeview were notified first. The school district then sent a message out to the community and families in the school district.

Back in September, Colonial Heights Public Schools allowed families to choose whether they would like their child to go to school in-person or continue with virtual learning. Sroufe said about 55 percent of students chose the in-person option.

Sroufe explained that, inside the schools, the buildings are separated into zones. The school district designed the reopening plan this way in order to close down specific zones and leave the rest of the building open if someone were to test positive for the virus.

The first two confirmed cases at Lakeview were in two different zones of the building.

“Because of the cases, they’re at each end of the building, we decided that it would be best to close, clean the building and try and get everybody tested and see where we were in the next week or so,” Sroufe said.

The superintendent said they are working with the VDH to get teachers and staff at the school tested and will reevaluate in a few days.

Full virtual instruction for Lakeview students begins Wednesday. Teachers are spending Monday and Tuesday preparing for the transition. Students may have some independent work in the meantime.

The VDH is currently reporting 303 total cases in Colonial Heights since the pandemic began, 29 people have been hospitalized and 26 have died.

Latest updates from Colonial Heights Public Schools

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