PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Churchland High School is going virtual as COVID-19 cases continue to rise at the school.

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School officials tell 10 On Your Side that the school will be virtual both Thursday, May 12 and Friday, May 13 as the school combats an increase in COVID-19 cases.

Additionally, all afterschool and extracurricular activities are canceled through the weekend.

District Epidemiologist Michelle Winz from the Portsmouth Health Department says they’ve begun seeing a 10% positivity rate again in the city.

“The number of cases is increasing right now in our community,” she said.

The rising cases contributed to the decision for a return to virtual learning.

“A decision based on, from Portsmouth Public Schools, on their staffing levels,” said Winz. “And when those staffing levels become critical due to increased absences, they will move the school to virtual for a short period of time. Usually about five days.”

CHKD Pediatric Infectious Disease Dr. Laura Sass says they’re also seeing a 10% positivity rate with cases within their health system.

“We’ve already had more positive tests within the health system for these first 11 days in May than we did in the month of April and March,” said Dr. Sass.

The cause for the spike can be blamed on the spread of the new subvariant, the removal of mask mandates, as well as other factors.

“The lack of mask-wearing as well because we know that that does help prevent spread. And the increase in people’s activities together that increase your risk of transmission,” she said.

COVID-19, however, isn’t the only virus making a resurgence.

“We are also seeing an increase in influenza right now as well because a lot of this is stemming from the changing in the mask mandates in the school systems,” said Dr. Sass.

Portsmouth Public Schools says they don’t anticipate any other schools in the district will return to virtual learning in the near future.

10 On Your Side also heard from Hampton, Newport News, Virginia Beach and Chesapeake public schools. They all say the same thing: their students will stay in-person for now.

Newport News Public Schools says they’re also seeing a spike in positive cases amongst students and staff.

While we’re not where we were two years ago, health officials say now’s not the time to let your guard down.

“We’re past the alarm stage. We’re more at awareness. Be aware and know what you need to do for you and your family. And everybody’s risk level is different. And to take that into account when you’re making decisions,” said Winz.

While the school is virtual, students will have synchronous learning. That means students are expected to log into all four classes at the beginning of each block by utilizing the Zoom link located on their Schoology class page.

Attendance will be taken.

Breakfast and lunch will be available for families to pick up from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the school. In addition, a school bus will be delivering meals on the following schedule:

  • 6:30 a.m. – Brandon Ln & Picadilly Lane; Peachtree Ln E & Sugar Creek Circle; Hartford Street & Lanier Crescent
  • 6:40 a.m. – Dogwood Dr & Daisy Dr; Kenny Ln & Tejo Ln;  Wesley Street & Maryland Ave
  • 6:50 a.m. – Riverpointe Dr & Riverpointe Pkwy; Hatton Point & Granada Rd

While the school is expected to return in person on Monday, school officials warn that the virtual learning period could be extended, if necessary.