Pulaski, Va. – While coronavirus cases are declining in the New River Valley, Pulaski County Public Schools wants to extend their school return plan to in-person learning all week.
While the health district director is giving the plan a thumbs up, vaccination registration numbers continue to rise with low supply available.
More than 90,000 people are eligible for the vaccine in the New River Valley, but the health district is only receiving about 2,000 vaccines a week.
A problem Dr. Noelle Bissell, New River Health District director said they are still trying to tackle before moving to the next phase.
“As we increase the size of those phases and we don’t increase our vaccine allocation, it just delays how much longer we are going to be in that phase,” she said.
While new coronavirus variants have not made their way to the New River Valley area yet, Bissell said people still need to watch out.
“They’re potentially more dangerous so it’s still going to require our vigilance,” she said.
But now with Pulaski County Public Schools releasing a plan to start in-person learning five days a week in mid-March, Dr. Bissell said it’s not too late in the school year to start the transition.
“We’ve definitely seen a toll in some of our indicators which are very concerning,” she said.
The county superintendent, Kevin Siers, said middle and high school students’ failure rates in the first semester were worrisome.
Therefore, starting mid-March, the school board wants to start in-person learning five days a week.
“It’s contingent on a couple of things,” Siers said. “One, that we don’t have any outbreaks at any schools between now and then. And two all of our faculty and staff get their vaccination and receive their second round.”
Bissell said most of the teachers in the New River Valley area will receive their second dose of the vaccine by next week.