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Some Charlottesville classes move online; none in Albemarle

Four elementary classrooms in Charlottesville City Schools and two teams at Walker Upper Elementary were temporarily moved online this month as the division continues to feel the effects from the recent surge in COVID-19 cases.

Division officials have previously said the decision to switch a class to virtual learning for up to two weeks would be based on the positive cases in a classroom, staffing levels and student attendance rates.

Before winter break, a total of two K-4 classrooms had moved online, division spokeswoman Amanda Korman said.

So far this week, the school division has reported 61 new cases among students and 11 among employees. That’s fewer than the high of 119 student cases reported in the second week of this month but still much more than any week before winter break.

“Staff absences are remaining stable and still at a level that supports in-person learning,” Korman said. “Student absences are looking better than last week, but it’s clear we’re still in the midst of a surge at this moment.”

The University of Virginia’s COVID-19 model is predicting that the omicron surge will peak during the first week of February.

Both Albemarle County and Charlottesville continue to keep their respective mask policies in place. The Fluvanna County School Board voted earlier on Thursday to lift its mandate and the Louisa County School Board was expected to discuss the issue at its meeting Thursday evening.

In Albemarle County, no classrooms or schools have had to switch to virtual instruction, division spokesman Phil Giaramita said.

In a presentation to the county school board on Thursday evening, division staff said the surge is having a medium impact on the school system, based on metrics set by the Virginia Department of Education.

Currently, “there are multiple classrooms with multiple positive cases within the classroom,” according to the presentation, though they haven’t yet been classified as outbreaks by the Blue Ridge Health District.

Student absenteeism is slightly above baseline and staff capacity is strained, according to the presentation. The division has reported 82 new cases among students this week, a significant drop from the record set last week at 210, according to Albemarle’s dashboard. Students were out of school Monday and Tuesday this week.

About 93.5% of students attended school on Wednesday, slightly below the division’s average of 95%.

As of Thursday evening, 24 staff members have reported a positive test result this week. About 75 staff members were absent from school Wednesday, according to the presentation.

Hundreds of students have recently returned to school after quarantining because of a possible exposure to COVID-19. Currently, 44 students are quarantining. At one point earlier this month, 554 students were in quarantine.


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