WARM SPRINGS — Bath County Public Schools will go full virtual teaching and learning on Monday, Nov. 30, with a target to return to the current hybrid learning model the week of Jan. 18.
The decision by school officials Tuesday came a day after the division reported that a faculty member had tested positive for COVID-19. This is the first confirmed case among the staff in Bath County schools.
Five faculty/staff members are currently quarantined, impacting a limited substitute pool.
Superintendent Sue Hirsh made the all-virtual announcement Tuesday in a letter to faculty, staff and parents after consulting with the local health department, school board members and administrative staff.
“Since March, we have lived with a situation that we never expected,” Hirsh said. “Faculty and staff have gone above and beyond to implement a hybrid model to allow 85 percent of our students to attend school four days a week, and parents have supported our efforts to provide a safe environment for our students.”
For over a month, Bath County school officials have carefully monitored the COVID-19 conditions at both the state and local levels.
As the weather turns colder and most activities have moved indoors, the number of case transmissions is steadily increasing across Virginia. Gov. Ralph Northam has asked residents to consider restricting gathering activities during the upcoming holiday season, and in response to the most common areas of COVID-19 spread, he has issued an executive order which primarily addresses restaurants, bars and retail establishments.
This executive order also increases the mandate for children age five and older to wear masks throughout the school day, as developmentally appropriate, or for students with disabilities or medical conditions.
Bath County is currently in the high-risk category with reported cases slowly but steadily increasing. As of Tuesday, Bath County’s case count stood at 42 since the onset of the virus back in March. For a lengthy period of time, Bath County was the last locality in Virginia to report a case of COVID-19.
“Due to the mitigation strategies in place within the division, we have been fortunate to not have school spread,” Hirsh said.
Depending on community circumstances and/or future Executive Orders from Gov. Northam, 100 percent virtual teaching and learning may be extended.
During this period, Fall Break/Thanksgiving Holiday and the Winter Break/Christmas and New Year’s Holidays will be observed as scheduled.
During the virtual period, there will be no athletic conditioning and no winter basketball.
Since Bath County schools opened in late August, students had been attending school in person Monday through Thursday with virtual learning on Friday.
“Thank you for your understanding that this shift in instruction modality is in an abundance of caution,” Hirsh said. “We look forward to the return of an on-campus schedule.”
Bath County Offices
Offices in the Bath County Courthouse are also closed until Monday, Nov. 30, with staff members working from home.
County administration announced this decision Tuesday as Bath County implemented its Infectious Disease (COVID-19) Preparedness and Response Plan.
This action is in addition to an order that was also issued by Circuit Court Judge Edward K. Stein Tuesday.
The Virginian Review has been serving Covington, Clifton Forge, Alleghany County and Bath County since 1914.