By Taylor Boyd
Patrick County Public Schools were forced to revert to an all–virtual education model last week due to a potential rise in COVID-19 cases in the school system staff.
Schools Superintendent Dean Gilbert said “due to cases and exposures, we did not simply have enough available employees at multiple working locations. We did announce last night that we intend to return to our hybrid plan of instruction on Thursday, Jan. 28.”
Walter Scott, of the Smith River District, said he supported Gilbert on his decision to close the schools. “That makes complete sense when you can’t run the schools. I’m all for it, locking it down in a case like that. Not that we want to, but sometimes we got to do what we have to do,” said Scott, who attended the meeting virtually.
Gilbert said Patrick County encountered 30 new coronavirus cases from Jan. 8 to Jan. 12, and as of Monday, Jan. 11, there were 160 active cases.” He added school administrators have not identified any spread in the schools.
“One thing that has changed is we created a dashboard of positive cases and exposures that will be updated Wednesday of each week on the division website,” Gilbert said, adding this information is posted under the ‘Families’ Tab with the COVID-19 information.
He said teachers would be vaccinated in Phase 1B of the vaccination plan. “We hope to begin this process for employees that want to receive the vaccine by the end of this month,” he said.
On other matters at its reorganizational meeting:
* Brandon Simmons, of the Dan River District, was reelected chairman, and Scott was reelected vice chairman.
*Approved the policy update.
*Approved the updated Patrick County High School program of studies.
*Approved a budget amendment for a security grant.
*Reaffirmed and adopted the Virginia Public School Authority (VSPA) School Board Code of Conduct.
*Reaffirmed and adopted Robert’s Rules of Order.
*Approved the monthly personnel reports as amended.