Staffing shortages caused by pandemic precautions have once again led Franklin County high and middle schools to shift to all-virtual learning, but this time the classrooms will stay empty through the end of the month.
The schedule change started Nov. 6 and affects Franklin County High School, Benjamin Franklin Middle School and the Gereau Center. The pause in in-person instruction comes not because schools have seen an outbreak, but because the need for teachers and staff to self-isolate in response to COVID-19 cases reported to the district has left schools too understaffed to stay open, said schools Superintendent Mark Church.
Staffing classes has presented challenges beyond the need for teachers to go into quarantine, said Franklin County High School Principal Jon Crutchfield. “We’re having a hard time trying to even get substitutes right now.”
All-virtual learning will continue through Thanksgiving break. The schools will return to their hybrid schedule on Nov. 30. Because schools were scheduled to be all-virtual Nov. 23 and 24 and closed for Thanksgiving on Nov. 25 and 26, Crutchfield said the cancellation of in-person classes amounts to about two weeks.
Meanwhile, a joint meeting of the Franklin County School Board and the Franklin County Board of Supervisors that had been scheduled for Nov. 5 was canceled out of an abundance of caution because of the ongoing surge in the county’s COVID-19 cases, wrote Madeline Sefcik, the clerk for the board of supervisors.
The VDH reported recently that Franklin County had surpassed 1,000 cases of COVID-19, with 38 hospitalizations and seven deaths.
Cases in Virginia topped 187,202 last week. The state reported 12,865 hospitalized due to the virus, bringing the state’s total deaths last week to 3,688.
Karen Dillon contributed to this story.