Southwest, Central Virginia schools pivot to remote learning during latest COVID-19 spike

Both Lynchburg City Schools and Pulaski County have schools reverting to online lessons

A record-spike in COVID-19 cases has forced several area schools to pivot back to remote learning.

LYNCHBURG, Va. – A lot of students aren’t even back two full weeks from winter break, and they’re already seeing another outbreak — a record spike in COVID-19 cases forcing school districts to once again pivot.

Both Lynchburg City Schools and Pulaski County have schools reverting to online lessons.

LCS announced Tuesday that E.C. Glass High School would return to remote learning for three days, following an increase in employees with positive cases or possible exposure.

“When we’re approaching about 30 percent of teacher absenteeism, whether it’s COVID or whether it’s related to some other medical or something else, we start looking at the impact on the school,” said LaTonya Brown, director of student services for Lynchburg City Schools.

LCS reported Tuesday 24 active cases and 175 people in quarantine division-wide.

[LIST: COVID-19 cases, quarantines reported in local K-12 schools]

It’s not clear how many of those are connected to E.C. Glass.

Leaders say they’re monitoring other schools closely, particularly two that are seeing an uptick.

“They’re not close to that 30 percent [of teacher absenteeism]. They’re starting to trend upwards, and so we’re watching them very closely,” said Brown, who declined to identify the schools when asked by 10 News.

Pulaski County announced Wednesday it is pivoting to remote learning for the rest of this week, after seeing an increase in cases and quarantine at its seven schools.

Superintendent Dr. Kevin Siers says it’s alarming across the board — with more employees already calling out halfway through January than any other month in the pandemic.

“We have people out at every school and every work location right now. We have some departments in our school division where every single employee is out,” said Dr. Siers.

Pulaski is reporting 46 positive cases this week.

Dr. James Fedderman, president of the Virginia Education Association, says they’re concerned, but hopeful.

“Our educators are going to do what they do best, and that is to meet the needs of every student in their classroom. We actually applaud those school divisions who are using the science,” said Dr. Fedderman.

School leaders in both Lynchburg and Pulaski County tell 10 News students to have access to Chromebooks and internet hotspots.

And they’re trying everything they can to keep the doors open as much as possible.

About the Author:

Tim Harfmann joined the 10 News team in September 2020 and works at the station's Lynchburg bureau.