VB sees slight decline in COVID-19 numbers; school board gets update on returning some students to in-person learning

Virginia Beach

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — The Virginia Beach School Board met Tuesday for a special workshop session to discuss the motion passed last Tuesday about the return of Option 1 students to school buildings.

Members came together to clarify the wording and time frame of the plan during the special workshop meeting.

School officials continue to keep a close eye on the coronavirus metrics, and it appears the district may be one step closer to welcoming back students.

The plan currently calls for in-person instruction to tentatively resume the week of Feb. 1 if there are seven days with a reduction in the percent positivity rate of COVID-19 in the Eastern Region, and as long as the district has all mitigation measures in place.

The board agreed one of those conditions has so far been met: the seven-day decline in the percent positivity rate.

Superintendent Dr. Aaron Spence said they’re moving in the right direction.

Members agreed that they’d be using the eastern region’s metrics versus the city’s metrics to monitor the seven-day decline in percent positivity. The same set of data has been used in previous decisions.

They also agreed they needed to see an overall decline over a seven-day window.

“Consensus was established that this goal has been satisfied,” said Carolyn Rye, VBCPS board chair.

School health officials also shared more promising news.

“I feel confident by the 1st that we’ll have what we need in place to contact trace our cases for our employees and our students in our schools,” said Mary Shaw, the district’s health services coordinator.

Shaw said she has also put in a request with the health department to get a dedicated epidemiologist and other resources to help with contact tracing.

Although vaccinations aren’t a requirement to reopen schools, some employees could get a vaccine by the end of the week.

“There is very promising progress since last Tuesday and we have a full week to go and everybody is certainly hopeful that more progress will be reported,” Rye said.

The board is reminding the community to continue wearing a mask, to practice social distancing and to avoid large gatherings so kids can get back in school.

Another update is expected at the Jan. 26 board meeting. 

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