Health and Medicine

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Roanoke College plans to start the fall semester two weeks early and complete it by Thanksgiving. College officials say the primary goal is to maximize the likelihood of completing the full semester on campus. Here is a letter Roanoke College President Mike Maxey sent today to the college community:

Dear Students and Families:

Greetings from Roanoke College! As always, I hope this letter finds you safe and well. While our campus is quiet, teams of individuals are working tirelessly to determine how we can all safely return to campus this fall. I am grateful to the Health Services, Campus Safety and Student Affairs teams at Roanoke College as well as our local public health experts who have been working through complex scenarios as we plan for the coming semester with diligence and care.

Below you will find our revised plans for the fall academic calendar.

Roanoke College will begin the fall semester early, starting classes two weeks ahead of the originally planned schedule. Wednesday, Aug. 19 will be the first meeting of day classes. Students will move into residence halls in August, with many of the same health protocols we are using now as students collect their belongings.

Our calendar has been revised to reduce the risks of mid-semester travel and maximize the likelihood that we can remain on campus for the entire fall semester.

The traditional fall break week in October has been removed from the academic calendar. The new calendar includes the same number of class days as the original fall 2020 calendar. The last day of classes for the fall semester will be Tuesday, Nov. 17. Reading Day will be Wednesday, Nov. 18. Exams will begin Thursday, Nov. 19, will include exams on Saturday, Nov. 21, and will conclude on Tuesday, Nov. 24. There will be no classes after Thanksgiving, and students will be expected to leave campus by Wednesday, Nov. 25. A full academic calendar will be posted to the Registrar’s webpage soon.

Below is a list of a few important new dates:

4 new confirmed or probable coronavirus cases are being attributed to the Roanoke Valley, according to the latest numbers released this morning by the Virginia Department of Health. State health officials are reporting 3 new cases in Roanoke City and 1 new case in Salem. No new coronavirus related deaths are being reported in the Roanoke Valley. Numbers in Roanoke County and Botetourt County remain the same.

Governor Northam says he expects Virginia public schools to resume in-person classes when the next academic year begins, but it will be a phased-in reopening; some instruction will be in-person, but some will remain remote. WFIR’s Evan Jones has more:

06-10 Northam-Schools Wrap-WEB

Here is a portion of the governor’s Tuesday announcement:

06-10 Northam Bite-WEB

Schools will have to provide six-foot distancing between desks and, in all likelihood, stagger schedules. Northam says daily screenings will be needed for students and staff, and older students will be encouraged, but not required, to wear face masks whenever possible. Each school system will have to submit a plan to the Department of Education before the phased-in reopenings are possible in that city or county.

It comes after Northam issued an executive order March 23rd that closed all public schools over COVID-19 concerns. The governor says all health metrics look positive, numbers that include the number of new cases, testing capacity and hospital beds available statewide.

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NEWS RELEASE: RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today announced a phased approach that allows Virginia schools to slowly resume in-person classes for summer school and the coming academic year. The K-12 phased reopening plan was developed by the Office of the Secretary of Education, Virginia Department of Health, and the Virginia Department of Education and is informed by guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

All PreK-12 schools in Virginia will be required to deliver new instruction to students for the 2020-2021 academic year, regardless of the operational status of school buildings. The PreK-12 guidance is aligned with the phases outlined in the Forward Virginia blueprint and provides opportunities for school divisions to begin offering in-person instruction to specific student groups.
“Closing our schools was a necessary step to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and protect the health and safety of staff, students, and our communities,” said Governor Northam. “Our schools have risen to the occasion and found ways to provide remote learning opportunities, keep students engaged, continue serving meals for children who otherwise would have gone hungry, and support students and families through an immensely challenging time. Resuming in-person instruction is a high priority, but we must do so in a safe, responsible, and equitable manner that minimizes the risk of exposure to the virus and meets the needs of the Virginia students who have been disproportionately impacted by lost classroom time.”
The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) convened numerous and diverse stakeholders through the Return to School Recovery Task Force, the Accreditation Task Force, and the Continuity for Learning Task Force this spring to inform strategies for reopening. Secretary of Education Atif Qarni held 35 strategy sessions with diverse groups of education stakeholders between May 29 and June 8 to gather their recommendations on how different reopening scenarios would impact their respective roles. The Secretary and his team engaged 800 individuals in these conversations, and heard from a wide range of perspectives including English language learners, parents of students with special needs, career and technical education centers, early childhood educators, students, school nutrition workers, private school leaders, bus drivers, school psychologists, the Virginia High School League, counselors, nurses, and more.
“These plans are informed by a range of perspectives and will help ensure that we prioritize the social emotional well-being of all of our students, their families, and educators as we go back to school this summer and fall,” said Secretary Qarni. “In-person learning is most essential for special education students, English language learners, young children, and other vulnerable students who depend upon the structure, in-person connection, and resources our school communities provide.”
Local school divisions will have discretion on how to operationalize within each phase and may choose to offer more limited in-person options than the phase permits, if local public health conditions necessitate. Entry into each phase is dependent on public health gating criteria, corresponding with the Forward Virginia plan. School divisions will have flexibility to implement plans based on the needs of their localities, within the parameters of the Commonwealth’s guidance.
The opportunities for in-person instruction in each phase are as follows:
  • Phase One: special education programs and child care for working families
  • Phase Two: Phase One plus preschool through third grade students, English learners, and summer camps in school buildings
  • Phase Three: all students may receive in-person instruction as can be accommodated with strict social distancing measures in place, which may require alternative schedules that blend in-person and remote learning for students
  • Beyond Phase Three: divisions will resume “new-normal” operations under future guidance
Beginning with Phase Two, local divisions and private schools must submit plans to the Virginia Department of Education that include policies and procedures for implementing Virginia Department of Health and CDC mitigation strategies. State Health Commissioner M. Norman Oliver, MD, MA has issued an Order of Public Health Emergency that requires all Virginia PreK-12 public and private schools to develop plans that demonstrate adherence to public health guidance. Public schools must also outline plans to offer new instruction to all students regardless of operational status.
Detailed information on each phase can be found in the guidance document available here.
VDOE has also developed comprehensive guidance to aid schools in planning for a return to in-person instruction and activities. “Recover, Redesign, Restart” will be made available at doe.virginia.gov tomorrow.
“School will be open for all students next year, but instruction will look different,” said Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. James Lane. “The phased, hybrid approach allows PreK-12 students to have valuable class time and face-to-face interaction with their peers, while prioritizing health and safety by ensuring physical distancing measures are maintained. This plan keeps equity at the forefront by giving divisions the opportunity to deliver in-person instruction to those who need it the most.”
In every phase, PreK-12 schools must follow CDC Guidance for Schools, including social and physical distancing, enhanced health and hygiene procedures, cleaning and disinfecting measures, and other mitigation strategies. These precautions include, but are not limited to:
  • Daily health screenings of students and staff
  • Providing remote learning exceptions and teleworking for students and staff who are at a higher risk of severe illness
  • The use of cloth face coverings by staff when at least six feet physical distancing cannot be maintained
  • Encouraging the use of face coverings in students, as developmentally appropriate, in settings where physical distancing cannot be maintained

 

10 new probable or confirmed coronavirus cases have been attributed to the Roanoke Valley, according to numbers released this morning by the Virginia Department of Health. State health officials are reporting 5 new cases in Roanoke City, 4 in Roanoke County, and 1 new case in Salem. Numbers in Botetourt County remain the same. No new deaths related to coronavirus have been reported in either of the localities.

There are two new confirmed or probable coronavirus cases being attributed to the Roanoke Valley, according to the latest numbers released this morning by the Virginia Department of Health. The two cases are being reported in Salem bringing the total case count there to 40. There are no new cases or deaths being reported in Roanoke City, Roanoke County, or Botetourt County.

There are 22 new probable or confirmed coronavirus cases being attributed to the Roanoke Valley, according data released this morning by the Virginia Department of Health. State health officials are reporting 14 new cases in Roanoke City, 6 in Roanoke County, 1 in Salem, and 1 in Botetourt County. There are no new deaths being reported in the Roanoke Valley.

According to data released this morning by the Virginia Department of Health, there are 951 new COVID-19 cases statewide bringing the overall case count to 47,856. State health officials are also reporting there were 17 new coronavirus deaths over the latest 24 hour period, increasing the total number of dead in the Commonwealth to 1,445. There are no new deaths or cases being reported in the Roanoke Valley.

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