New Kent Charles City Chronicle

News for New Kent County and Charles City County, Virginia | November 1, 2020

New Kent schools switch to all virtual restart to begin FY2020-21 year

By Andre Jones | August 17, 2020 7:21 pm

New Kent County Schools are shifting to an all-virtual instruction mode after a school board work session Monday night.

The change comes approximately a few weeks after the school board originally chose to allow parents/guardians to choose their method of instruction. It will last for the first semester (18 weeks) with a review by the school board at the halfway point.

“We do not feel that we are adequately staffed to have a hybrid model and keep our staff safe,” said Superintendent of Brian Nichols.

Fueling the change were comments Nichols made at the school board’s August regular meeting. At that meeting, the superintendent said that the model could flex and change based on a lot of factors. One of those factors included staff availability.

At the regular meeting, Nichols informed the school board that 28 members of their faculty and staff were concerned about instruction and working within the facility. Now, that number has increased to 42 in just two weeks.

A slideshow presentation provided insight of high risks conditions to contract COVID-19. Among those conditions include obesity, serious heart conditions, and type two diabetes. And while the school’s human resources department will be working with staff who are at an increased risk, the number of expected staff to be absent along with the lack of substitute teachers is dictating the shift in the issue. That slideshow also provided information that COVID-19 cases in the Central Virginia area, that encompasses New Kent, is labeled as a moderate risk and increasing as of Aug. 17.

Nichols said his staff is continuing to work on closing the Internet gap for all-virtual instruction. A schedule for Chromebook distribution along with expectations for students and staff is currently being developed.

“We know that this is less than ideal, but we are going to do our best to work with our teachers, staff, students, and their families to get them as much access as possible,” Nichols concluded.

The school board accepted the motion to add the change to the agenda and vote on it as an action item. The vote passed unanimously for the switch.