Skip to main content
Mobile Menu

August 12th Superintendent Update

Good afternoon,


On August 3, 2020 the Bristol Virginia School Board voted to open school on August 20 under the In-Person Hybrid Model, with a review of Health Metrics on August 12. Through August 10, most health metrics that were being considered were showing significant improvement. However, on August 11, 8 new cases were reported for Bristol. That caused our health metrics to change trajectories, but in every category except 1 our metrics remained steady or improved from the metrics on August 3. Additionally, in a discussion with the VDH, we were made aware that of the 29 new cases in the month of August, at least 8 do not have an impact on the greater Bristol community. Here is a comparison of the data on August 3 and August 12.





Total Cases



Active Cases



Percent Active Cases



14 Day per 100,000



WC 14 Day



SC/MRHD 14 Day



7 Day per 100,000



WC 7 Day 



Cases age 5-18 









WC Deaths/Hospital/Children



SWVA New Cases


33 (Avg of 44.7)



Based on the lack of a significant decline in our health metrics as compared to August 3 and the understanding that over 1/4 of the new cases in August do not have a direct impact on our school community, Bristol Virginia Public Schools will begin school on August 20,2020 in the In-Person Hybrid mode with parental choice for virtual instruction. In addition to our current mitigations, we will increase the requirement for face coverings to all grades PK-12, increase focus on hand washing and cleaning, require that students have assigned seats in class, and increase our focus to maintain at least 6 feet of social distance at all times. When this distance cannot be maintained, additional mitigations will be in place.  Our hope will be to follow this model as long as our health metrics allow to ensure that students are able to build relationships with their new teachers and to establish routines. If health metrics decline significantly, an alternative schedule could begin at another date in the future. As we have been told by the Virginia Department of Education and the Virginia Department of Health, we should expect to change our instructional delivery model multiple times throughout the fall.


This decision comes from a balanced approach of considering risk. We understand, and are concerned about, the possible health consequences of this decision. As a result, parents have the option of choosing remote instruction. 


Many of you have shared with me your excitement about returning to work, while others have expressed their anxiety. We understand and empathize with the concerns of our employees and will provide accommodations to protect your safety and well being as we welcome you back tomorrow.  Staff members have additional and individual options available to them based on their job description and individual needs. We will accommodate all employment related concerns in a way that benefits the employee, our students, and the division. The hardest part of making this decision has been considering the potential health risks for our employees and students. Please know that we are all in this together.


However, there are other risks that were considered as well that were primarily focused on our students. Those risks include the unreported abuse and neglect that we know some of our students are experiencing, the learning gaps that we know exist due to the Covid Crash, the impact that closed school buildings has on food insecurities for our families, the impact on our families' abilities to maintain their current employment, and the difficulty of meeting the needs of students with diverse needs in a virtual setting. A lawsuit was recently filed against all school divisions in America for not meeting the needs of students with disabilities during school closures. I doubt that this suit will impact BVPS, but it will certainly open the door for "template" suits to pop up in localities across the country.


Additionally, if a decision is made to move to a fully virtual instructional environment for an extended period of time, we will be unable to provide the same level of employment stability for hourly personnel that we did in the spring. As a result, temporary voluntary layoffs would be the first option we would have to consider if a virtual option is needed. Depending on participation in this option, additional temporary involuntary layoffs would have to be considered. This is definitely not a path we want to follow, but in the interest of transparency we want to share that it is a possibility. If this does occur, we will work directly with our hourly employees to continue working with BVPS or to assist them in applying for unemployment benefits.


I hope you know that there is no right answer for our current dilemma. We are trying to do what is best for our students while balancing the best interests and needs of our employees. I understand the anxiety that employees are experiencing and the risk associated with the unknown (potentially contracting the virus)  as well as the dangers of the known (abuse, neglect, food insecurity, learning loss, inadequate SPED services, lack of access to mental health services, parent employment issues, potential layoffs, etc.). The best solution we can provide tries to address all of these issues while providing choice to parents and accommodations to employees. If you have suggestions for how we can make our return to school safer, please do not hesitate to contact me personally. I appreciate your patience, support, and understanding during an era that we all hope and pray ends in the very near future.




Keith Perrigan


Bristol Virginia Public Schools

220 Lee St.

Bristol, VA 24201

(276) 821-5600


Preparing Students to Thrive in a Dynamically Changing World