Virtual teachers have been told to come back into the building due to lack of staff. As of Thursday, February 4th, 2021, at least 20 teachers were out due to health reasons, mostly related to COVID-19 or close-contact quarantining.
An outbreak occurred this week, which coincided with the arrival of more in-person students to the building. This week also saw the entire varsity boys basketball team being quarantined for the second time this season.
The email sent to parents on Monday, February 1st, stated, “Prince George County Public Schools has been notified by the Virginia Department of Health of an outbreak at Prince George High School. VDH defines an outbreak as two or more positive cases of COVID-19 being identified from exposure within a particular school setting, such as a classroom or other common indoor space.”
AP U.S. History Teacher, Cynthia Hasley, is one of the virtual teachers who has been teaching from home due to health reasons. She is devastated that she won’t be able to return to teach, due to her health conditions.
“I had to make a decision as to whether I would come in-person to continue teaching, or I would have to go on medical leave. I have always been passionate, or as Mr. Havard said, ‘intense about my teaching and my students.’ You students are ‘my’ kids for 10 months and I feel like a mama bear. Truly, it was a tearful decision, but I am 66 and have several comorbidities and though I have always put my students first, this time I have to put my health first. I can’t wait to get my vaccinations and I will be the first one back at school as soon as that happens. In the meantime, I have to hand my classes over to a substitute starting Wednesday.” Hasley said.
Hasley plans to return to school after she receives her COVID-19 vaccination.
“I want to return, just not before I am vaccinated. The governor today said he is making March 15th, 2021 the goal date for in-person. I will have both shots by then,” Hasley said.
Currently the surrounding high schools in virtual learning are Hopewell and Petersburg. Colonial Heights returned to in-person after a period of virtual-only that lasted over a month while their outbreak was controlled. Dinwiddie started back this month after teaching students virtually for January. Prince George County Schools is the only system that hasn’t adjusted for the spike in Covid-19 cases, but rather increased the number of in-person students.
Today, Governor Northam requested that all schools in Virginia develop some form of in-person instruction plan by March 15th, 2021. According to Northam, this is a primary issue for Virginia because schools in our biggest counties haven’t opened their doors to students, which could lead to more educational gaps and psychological problems in our state.
As far as protecting teachers against the virus, Northam stated that by March 15th teachers should be vaccinated due to them being including in the “1b” vaccination group.
When asked by a reporter today what should schools do who are facing a teacher shortage due to the COVID-19 cases and teachers who are quarantining, Dr. James F. Lane, Superintendent of Public Instruction reassured listeners that long-term substitutes are now allowed to be in place for the duration of the school year.
Post Updated 2/8: Hasley will be using sick days instead of going on medical leave.