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Staffing not yet ‘a significant concern’ for Albemarle schools

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Pandemic learning classroom (copy)

DAILY PROGRESS FILE A socially-distanced classroom at Crozet Elementary School.

After two days back in-person, Albemarle County school division had 118 classroom teachers absent Tuesday, about 10% of its teaching corps.

About 62% of those absent were out of school because of COVID-19 either from testing positive, awaiting test results or in quarantine, division spokesman Phil Giaramita said.

“Staffs are doing remarkable work in adapting to this challenge with some impact on specials (music, library, art) since those educators are helping to cover classes for teachers who are not in school,” he said.

The ability to staff a school is one metric that could force a classroom or school to temporarily shift to virtual learning, according to school officials.

Giaramita said the division is not “approaching the point where staffing has become a significant concern.” No individual classes or schools are considering a temporary move to virtual learning as the result of staffing shortages, he said.

The division reported three new COVID-19 cases among students on Tuesday — the first update to its COVID-19 dashboard since before winter break. Division officials have pointed to the lack of widespread outbreaks in schools as evidence that the current measures from masking to ventilation work to prevent the virus’ spread in a school building. However, schools in the area haven’t offered in-person instruction when COVID case counts were at their current level.

Charlottesville City Schools has reported 69 new cases among students this week and 12 cases among staff, according to its dashboard, though those numbers reflect cases from last week that were reported to the division this week. That’s 27% of all student cases so far this school year. The city is tracking student absences as one of the metrics that could move classes online along with staff absences and a school’s ability to operate.

Charlottesville did not provide an update to staffing numbers by press time.

Because of legislation passed last year and signed into law, an entire division cannot shift to online instruction and must offer five days of in-person instruction.

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