Dinwiddie schools temporarily go fully virtual as COVID cases rise

By Zach Armstrong

DINWIDDIE, Va -- The Dinwiddie School Board voted at its Jan. 12 meeting to temporarily move to a full virtual model for all students from Thursday, January 14 through Friday, January 29.

Superintendent Dr. Keri Weston made the recommendation while the board voted unanimously in favor of the move.

The main reason for the school board’s decision was the division’s staffing capacity. The school division is seeing an average of 70 staff absences per day with 35% of staff absences currently going unfilled.

At the time of the decision, 2,027 Dinwiddie students were learning virtually while 2,131 students were attending school in-person. As internet access continues to be a concern for many families, the division has provided mifis to approximately 1,000 families to assist. Paper packets have also been distributed to students who have unreliable internet access at home, the Progress-Index reported.

According to Director of School & Community Relations Christie Clark, approximately 115 students who were doing virtual learning had requested to return to in-person learning in the spring semester. The process of returning students to in-person learning has paused at this time.

Virtual learning will take place each day during this timeframe with the exception of the teacher workday on Jan. 29. Students that attend Rowanty will continue to follow the Rowanty schedule and local students that attend any schools outside of the Dinwiddie public school division will follow the schedules of those schools.

Meal distribution will still be available during this time which will take place on

Jan. 14, 19 and 26. Curbside distributions will be held at Sunnyside Elementary, Dinwiddie Elementary, and Sutherland Elementary from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Since the start of the 2020-2021 school year, there have been 60 reported cases among Dinwiddie students with half of those being active cases. Dinwiddie has reported 1,104 COVID-19 cases including 59 hospitalizations and 16 deaths. According to the VDH, all localities in Virginia are at "highest risk" for transmission of COVID-19 in schools.

Dinwiddie teachers and staff are expected to receive the recently approved Covid vaccine by the end of January with the two-part implementation process completed by March.