Chesapeake parents push for COVID-19 testing in schools in the fall; Division is working on plans


CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) – As more people get vaccinated against the coronavirus, case numbers are dropping, which means getting back to pre-pandemic life.

However, many parents still have concerns about sending kids back to school. Right now, only children ages 12 and up are eligible for the Pfizer vaccine.

In Chesapeake, some parents are looking toward the fall and wondering what COVID-19 mitigation measures will look like in schools.

The parents are members of Chesapeake Advocates for Responsible Return to School. Given that physical distancing requirements have loosened and more students will likely be in the classroom come this fall, the parents want to see a COVID-19 testing program in schools.

“As we head into next year, with masks even in our schools being an uncertainty, we know that COVID will still be with us rather predominately, even in the fall,” said Samantha Lester, who leads the group. “When we welcome back so many more students to our campuses, we’ve got to supplement that with added mitigation.”

Lester says they want to see a COVID-19 testing program, which would be voluntary and test students once every one to two weeks. The goal is to stop asymptomatic transmission of the virus.

“Unless we look for them, we won’t be able to find them, which will continue the transmission chain in the community,” said Lester.

A spokesman for Chesapeake Public Schools shared this statement regarding future plans:

“As we close out the current school year, Chesapeake Public Schools is currently in the planning stages for specific details of our 2021-22 school year. Our plans for mitigation strategies, testing, and other practices will come as a result of consultations with the Chesapeake Health Department, our School Health Advisory Board, and guidance from the VDOE and CDC. By working collaboratively, we can make informed decisions that lead to a safe and successful school year.”

Chesapeake Public Schools

Lester hopes to see those details soon, with testing included. She says not knowing what the plans are is especially difficult, given that parents of elementary and middle school students have to decide if they want to apply for virtual school by next Friday.

“We’re all just trying to keep each other safe by testing our staff and students once a week,” Lester said.

For Chesapeake Public School’s COVID dashboard, click here.

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