Restrictions have slightly loosened at Halifax County Public Schools as students will be allowed to make appointments with their teachers starting Monday, if needed, Superintendent Dr. Mark Lineburg said on Sunday.
“We’re going to allow some kids in the buildings,” said Lineburg, who also noted that sports practice would start for varsity sports (see sports story).
More discussions on back-to-school safety, pre-k through third grade students impending return and health data are expected by Halifax County School Board members when they meet tonight at 6:30 p.m. in the Halifax County Middle School cafeteria.
Lineburg and head nurse Tina Slabach have been looking at the health data weekly to see what the positivity rate is for Halifax County as well as the number of cases.
The superintendent said the positivity rate was a “little better” at the end of last week.
Previously, he closed school facilities to all students on Nov. 17 until last Friday.
On Nov. 16, the Centers for Disease Control said the 14-day average positivity rate for Halifax County was at 11.8%, and Lineburg said that rate had dropped to 11.7% as of Dec. 2.
Any 14-day average positivity rate over 10% puts a county in the highest risk category, according to the superintendent, and when in the highest risk category, the Virginia Department of Health recommends schools operate using a fully distance-learning model.
Before the closure of school facilities, the school board had allowed special education students and English learners to return to in-person instruction as well as students by appointment.
They also previously voted to allow athletes to begin conditioning for winter sports.
Originally, grades pre-K through third grade would have been considered next followed by grades 4,5,6 and 9 and then grades 7, 8, 10, 11, and 12.
In October, the board voted to not allow pre-K through third grade return to in-person instruction until at least second semester, which begins in February.
However, director of elementary education Lisa Long is slated to give up an update on pre-K through third grade students return at the school board meeting.
“I’m anxious for that February start date. I think we need to get back,” said Lineburg, who said he is confident in the school system’s mitigation strategies.
Slabach, director of operations and maintenance Steve Brumfield and transportation director Dwight Elam are slated to provide more information on those strategies Monday evening during a back-to-school safety report.
School staff has previously discussed some safety measures when students return such as wearing masks, temperature checks, staying distanced and maintaining sanitization.
At the end of the meeting, school board members are expected to enter into closed session to discuss personnel and property matters.