Following Monday’s holiday, it’s back to school Tuesday for students in Prince William County. But all 734 students at Bennett Elementary School in Manassas will be in virtual learning Tuesday through Friday this week because of three dozen confirmed COVID-19 cases at the Virginia school.
Besides the 36 confirmed cases, there are more than 200 close contacts who have been forced into isolation.
The suspension of in-person learning was a recommendation by the Prince William Health District in a bid to prevent and stop further spread of COVID-19 at the school.
“We know that in-person learning is preferable, but working with our teachers, we’ll do our best to continue student learning during this pause,” said Bennett Elementary School Principal Michelle Pohzehl in a Monday evening webinar for the school community.
While the instruction switches to virtual, teachers will instruct from their classrooms and all classes will follow normal bell times.
“This intervention is proactive. We all value our students’ education in in-person learning, but the safety and well-being of our students have to take our first priority,” said Denise Huebner, associate superintendent for Special Education and Student Services.
Children under age 12 remain ineligible for a COVID-19 vaccine. But last week, Pfizer asked the Food and Drug Administration to authorize its vaccine for kids 5-11.
“Our hope is that by having this pause, it will separate kids from one another and kids from the staff, and allow us to sort of cool down and (let) people go through either their period of isolation or quarantine and be ready to come back to school,” said Dr. Alison Ansher, director of the Prince William Health District.
School officials said they intend to return the school to in-person learning on Monday.
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