Virtual Learning Option
Virtual Learning Option
As parents, educators, family, and friends, we are requesting that Virginia Beach Public Schools add a virtual education option minimally for the first semester of the 2021-2022 school year.
In April it was announced that parents of VBS students would be given the option to enroll their children in Virtual Virginia for the 2021-2022 school year. Parents who wished to enroll their students in Virtual Virginia had to submit their requests by June 4, 2021. The week of May 30th, Virginia Beach’s average positivity rate for PCR testing of COVID-19 was 2.9% and consistently declined for 12 weeks in a row (https://www.vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus/covid-19-in-virginia/covid-19-in-virginia-testing/ ) The week of May 29th Virginia’s average positivity rate for PCR testing of COVID-19 was 2.6% and consistently declined for 8 weeks in a row (https://www.vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus/covid-19-in-virginia/covid-19-in-virginia-testing/
In stark contrast, the week of August 29 Virginia Beach’s average positivity rate for PCR testing of COVID-19 was 14.8% (cite website) and has consistently risen for 9 weeks in a row since June 27 (https://www.vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus/covid-19-in-virginia/covid-19-in-virginia-testing/ The week of August 28th, Virginia’s average positivity rate for PCR testing of COVID-19 was 10.4% and has consistently risen for 10 weeks in a row since the week of June 20th (https://www.vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus/covid-19-in-virginia/covid-19-in-virginia-testing/)
It is clear that COVID-19 positive diagnoses have skyrocketed since the deadline to opt for Virtual Virginia enrollment this Fall.
This two-fold situation has presented a new situation for parents, educators, and families of VBSchools students. Additionally, VBSchools has announced it will only be imposing a 3’ social distance within schools “when feasible” and bus capacity limits of 64 for elementary, 54 for middle, and 44 for high school students (anonymous VBSchools bus driver) which clearly will not allow for 3’ distancing as recommended by the CDC (cite website). Without multiple mitigation strategies in place, VBSchools WILL NOT be able to prevent in school transmission of the COVID-19 virus. To date, at least 3 sporting events have already been cancelled or rescheduled due to team outbreaks and the school year has not yet begun https://www.beachdistrictva.org/g5-bin/client.cgi?G5genie=356
There is nothing that indicates numbers will go down, as a community we are only rising. Adding a virtual option for students is the responsible move so that families who wish to enroll their students can do so. Offering a virtual option would allow for more distancing between students who attend school in-person and thus learn in a safer environment with less exposure and less people to “host” the virus.
Our local hospital systems are being inundated to the point where individuals are having to wait 24 hours to be admitted due to an influx of patients in the emergency room seeking care.(https://www.13newsnow.com/amp/article/news/health/coronavirus/urgent-care-centers-see-influx-of-patients/291-916fc9b7-9df1-4b48-8bf8-bcc10e040dd5 VBSchools WILL have multiple COVID-19 outbreaks in the school setting- whether it’s sports, extracurricular activities, or academics during school hours. We are just asking for an option so that we can help alleviate the problem and not be a part of the problem.
Designing a virtual program now will give VBSchools a platform to build upon for the rest of the school district if/when all students need to go virtual. It will allow VBSchools to get ahead of a potential- almost definite problem when COVID-19 cases continue to rise. Additionally, we are now seeing an uptick in influenza and RSV cases which has never happened outside of the Fall, Winter, and Spring months. (https://www.13newsnow.com/amp/article/news/health/coronavirus/newport-news-pediatrician-flu-covid/291-a039e5a9-7576-4047-9b49-cd8602769422 (https://www.13newsnow.com/article/news/nation-world/winter-virus-rsv-baffles-doctors/507-a736519b-5263-428d-adbd-c468a8065869 Luckily, VBSchools did it last year and you have experience to make it happen this year.
Please carefully consider this request to give students a virtual learning option and continue to make VBSchools known as an innovative, inclusive, and adaptive school system and not a school system that floundered to “make it work” in the midst of a pandemic.
Thank you for your time.