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Division postpones start of winter sports, policy meeting

As the seven-day positivity rate for COVID-19 continues to climb in Suffolk and the Eastern Region, Suffolk Public Schools has announced that it will continue postponing winter sports.

In an announcement on its website, it stated that the possibility of sports returning will be discussed at the School Board’s Jan. 14 meeting, and that the board would determine the return of students to face-to-face instruction at a future date.

The division will next review any possible changes Jan. 11. Specialized program students will continue to receive in-person instruction one day per week on Wednesdays.

The city currently has a seven-day positivity rate of 15.4% as of Jan. 4, while the Eastern Region’s is 17.4%. Both have been on the rise since Nov. 23, when the division began posting information on its website. At that time, the city’s rate was 4.9% and the Eastern Region’s 6.8%. The region’s rates have been in the red, or most dangerous levels, for five consecutive weeks, while the city’s has been in the red for the past four weeks.

The Eastern Region’s cases per 100,000 people have been in the red every week since Nov. 23, rising from 21.6 to 50.7. It did drop Nov. 30 to 19.9, but has risen every week since then. In the city, its cases per 100,000 people have gone up from 15.0 Nov. 22 to 54.1 Jan. 4.

Any category in which the division is in the red means it will continue with virtual learning for students except for those in specialized programs.

There were four COVID-19 cases in the division from Dec. 28 through Jan. 4 — two reported at Florence Bowser Elementary School, one each at John F. Kennedy and King’s Fork middle schools. There have been 71 cases of COVID-19 since Sept. 7. The division notes that one case does not necessarily denote one person and could include a single person at multiple locations.

The school division also announced it would be operating on an adjusted schedule, open from 8 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, with Fridays being a virtual workday for all administration and instructional staff.

In other board-related news, the Policy Review Committee meeting scheduled for Jan. 5 has been postponed until Feb. 2, and will be a virtual meeting.

The board is also scheduled to meet at 5 p.m. Jan. 7 for a virtual-only organizational meeting, to be streamed on the division’s YouTube page.