COVID-19 concerns on the first day of school


PORTSMOUTH, Va (WAVY)– As students return to the classroom this week, COVID-19 remains a concern.

One Portsmouth Public Schools staff member is worried the schools will be shut down from an outbreak after what that person witnessed on the first day of school.

“Other than masks — everything is back to normal. No 3-foot distancing and some classes have 25 to 35 students in class,” the staffer told WAVY.

A parent also said while she appreciates that all students are wearing masks, many are not wearing them correctly.

10 On Your Side took these concerns to the school district as well as Pediatrician Dr. Douglas Mitchell, the medical director for the 18 practices in the Children’s Medical Group.

Mitchell is optimistic students can return to school safely.

“If we do the mitigating factors… I mean we learned a lot last year. We learned a ton last year. We learned how to safely be in school even when many were saying we shouldn’t,” Mitchell said.

He acknowledged it is not always possible to keep 6, or even 3, feet of social distancing space in a school or on a bus, but that is why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a layered approach.

Wearing masks, cracking bus windows, cleaning and hand washing: when used in combination, he said these mitigation factors greatly reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19.

“We can then politely ask if we are in a setting where we are uncomfortable to have other things around us changed so that we’re comfortable in that setting,” Mitchell said.

Portsmouth Schools spokesperson Lauren Nolasko told WAVY via email: “If a parent or a staff member has any concerns about the mitigation strategies deployed at their school, they should immediately reach out to that school’s principal. All school principals and assistant principals have received extensive training on the processes and procedures at the school and can address any concerns directly there.”

Staff and families can also email any concerns she said to the superintendent at ………

Mitchell said if your child has any symptoms, keep them home.

He urges you to not go to the emergency room for a COVID-19 test because that is overwhelming them. Instead, he recommends you call your doctor for a tele-visit to determine if you need a test and where to go.

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