By Taylor Boyd and Debbie Hall
Patrick County Schools are not the only school division in the region to implement the hybrid instructional option nor the only division to respond to probable positive cases of COVID-19.
Franklin County also implemented a hybrid option to allow students to return to classrooms part-time, according to Jason Guilliams, Franklin County Schools Director of Operations.
Four positive cases of the virus have been reported since the school division started the hybrid model on Sept. 8. Those affected by the virus were not confined to one building, he said.
Currently, Henry County Schools are using a survey to gauge parents’ interest in a hybrid option, with plans to discuss the issue at a school board meeting Thursday, according to Director of Communications Monica Hatchett.
The school division has received feedback from families, primarily via social media and other electronic means like emails and telephone calls. The opinions expressed by parents fall on both sides of the issue, she added.
“Parents are very concerned,” Hatchett said, adding that the division provided each child with an electronic device and made Internet available in parking lots of all schools. However, as in Patrick, connectivity remains an issue in some areas.
Internet “is not even a possibility” in Figsboro and Axton, Hatchett said.
Henry County Schools Superintendent Sandy Strayer held a recent electronic meeting with the division’s Student Cabinet. Comments from student members indicated “they miss being in-person” in classrooms, Hatchett said. “The overlying theme is they miss the relationship.”
She does not know whether the board will vote on the issue Thursday. However, it is scheduled to convene again on Oct. 1.
“Certainly, our goal is to get everybody back in school as soon” safely possible, she said.
The most important way for people, particularly students, to protect themselves against the virus is to continue to wear masks, according to Nancy Bell, Public Information Officer for the West Piedmont Health District.
Masks should fit snugly and cover both the mouth and the nose, she said, and added that non-disposable masks should be cleaned after each use or sprayed with disinfectant.
Bell said hand washing is another key in helping to reduce the transmission of COVID-19, as is sanitizing and cleaning objects and surfaces frequency touched, like doorknobs.
“I tell kids to treat it like glitter,” Bell said. “Once you open a bottle of glitter, it gets everywhere, just like the virus is everywhere. The only people who need to worry are those who were within six feet of contact” of a potentially infected person and with no mask on, she said.
Martinsville City Public Schools are currently using the all–virtual option.
As of Monday, Sept. 21, data from the Virginia Department of Health suggested there are 271 positive cases of COVID-19 in Patrick County, with 54 hospitalized, and 24 dead. The data also suggested that in the West Piedmont Health District there are 1,963 cases, with 237 hospitalized, and 62 dead from COVID-19.
For more tips on how to stay safe, visit www.vdh.virginia.gov orwww.cdc.gov/coronoavirus/2019-ncov.
Nancy Bell, Public Information Officer for the West Piedmont Health District, said the proper use of masks offers the most protection against the COVID-19 virus. These graphics from the CDC show the proper way to wear and remove masks. Masks should fit snugly and cover both the mouth and the nose. Non-disposable masks should be cleaned between every use or sprayed with disinfectant.