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Prince Edward schools stick with virtual learning

The Prince Edward County School Board voted unanimously Wednesday night, Oct. 7, to table the decision of moving to in-person classes until November.

Board members were briefed on two different models of hybrid learning, known as Option 4 and Option 5, during the meeting. Prince Edward County Public Schools (PECPS) students have been learning virtually via Chromebooks since school began in August.

During the meeting PECPS Superintendent Dr. Barbara Johnson explained she had met earlier in the day for a weekly meeting with other area superintendents and representatives from the Piedmont Health District to discuss coronavirus-related health data. 

She highlighted that while data seen one to two weeks ago was encouraging, a shift in the past week saw the county’s coronavirus cases take a concerning turn. 

“The numbers for Prince Edward County have changed,” Johnson said. 

Johnson mentioned a series of colors used by the health department to represent levels of transmission risk for COVID-19, stating that for risk levels in each county the color green represents a low risk, yellow represents moderate, orange means a high risk of transmission and red means the highest risk. 

“Prince Edward County, within the last seven days, we have had a significant increase in cases. It puts us (at) a transmission risk of the highest level. It puts us at red.”

Johnson said the significant change in transmission risk was of great concern in relation to reopening the school. She added the county has also seen its rate of cases per 100,000 people increase 180%, another alarming figure. 

“I can say to you that some of our surrounding counties are going to open soon,” she said. “Their numbers don’t look like our numbers.”

Board member Dr. Peter Gur made the motion to table discussions of reopening plans until the board’s Nov. 4 meeting, at which time data could be further analyzed and the topic could be revisited. 

Fellow board member Doug Farley seconded the motion, which passed unanimously.

A release distributed by PECPS officials Thursday, Oct. 8 stated there will be no changes to meal services at the school at this time. Technical support will remain available through the school website for students and their families.

Officials added in the release that due to the timing of the next school board meeting, the next possible return date for some students would be the week of November 16.