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VDH advises local schools to transition to fully virtual model after Thanksgiving break

Published: Nov. 23, 2020 at 11:21 PM EST
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - Just days before Thanksgiving and despite suggestions to not travel, the Virginia Department of Health gave Virginia schools guidance on what to do after the holiday break.

Schools realize that inevitably students and their families will be traveling and on Monday schools in this region were given guidance by VDH to switch to a virtual model after Thanksgiving break for the remainder of the semester.

Harrisonburg City Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Michael Richards said the city is and has been in the CDC’s highest risk category, so he says they have been following the state and local health departments’ advice very closely.

He said HCPS can continue operating as they are now after the break because most students are already learning virtually, with only 15 percent of identified students in the classroom.

“If we receive a further recommendation more specific to us saying that we should remove the 15 percent, of course, we’ll follow that guidance,” Richards said. “At this point, we’re operating under that highest risk category.”

Richards said they have informed staff of travel recommendations, but have no control over their decision.

This was also a topic at the Rockingham County Public School board meeting on Monday night.

Superintendent Dr. Oskar Scheikl stressed in his presentation the importance of limiting travel and who students and families are around for the holidays.

He explained discussions he has had with the local health district director Dr. Laura Kornegay about the difficulty of contact tracing, overcrowding in local hospitals and mitigation strategies.

“[Kornegay] said, if you can’t keep the mitigation strategies up, you’re not going to be successful,” Scheikl said. “That is the key. It’s the key to her. That’s the key to VDH guidance and that’s the key for us.”

Scheikl said over the holiday break families should take control. He reminded people this is not a joke, and to take control of how many people are at family gatherings and be sure to wear masks.

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