Message from the Superintendent:
Return to In-Person Instruction Postponed
Posted: January 5, 2021 (en español)
Happy New Year! I hope you had an enjoyable and relaxing winter break. A new year always brings the promise of a renewed focus on the things that matter most.
Ensuring the health and well-being of our students and staff continues to be my top priority. Over winter break, my leadership team and I closely monitored local COVID metrics. The most recent COVID-19 update from the Peninsula Health District indicated that the calculated case burden mean for the six Peninsula localities is in the highest risk of transmission category based on a 14-day transmission rate. The entire Eastern Region of the state is still in the highest case rate level. Newport News is also in the highest risk category at 643 cases per 100,000. The positivity rate in Newport News is 17.6% and is increasing.
Given these metrics, and in accordance with our Return to Learn Plan, I have decided to suspend our Phase II timeline for the transition to in-person, hybrid instruction scheduled to begin on January 11. This will position the school division to ensure a cautious and safe return to in-person instruction.
As detailed in our plan, and on the COVID-19 dashboard, when the Eastern Region, Peninsula or Newport News COVID-19 health metrics are in the highest risk category, virtual instruction will continue and hybrid instruction will be delayed until COVID-19 metrics fall below the highest risk category (lower than 200 new cases per 100,000 persons within the last 14 days) for the Eastern Region, the Peninsula and Newport News.
This week we are expecting additional guidance and information from Governor Northam, the Virginia Department of Health and the State Superintendent of Public Instruction about the state’s ongoing response to COVID-19. My team and I will continue to monitor COVID-19 cases and transmission rates while following all protocols outlined by the state and the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.
All of us must do our part to curb the spread of COVID-19, so Newport News Public Schools is implementing some additional measures. School offices will serve families and visitors by appointment only until further notice. Parents and guardians are asked to call the school office and schedule a time to visit. All administrative offices will continue to serve walk-in visitors (though appointments are encouraged) while observing all CDC mitigation strategies. All visitors and staff must wear face masks and maintain a physical distance of six feet when visiting NNPS schools and offices.
We will keep you informed with regular updates throughout the month.
I thank you for your commitment and flexibility as we work through these important decisions.
George Parker, III, Ph.D.