The Fauquier County School Board voted Monday to switch to virtual-only instruction two weeks before students were expected to return to the classroom.
Superintendent David Jeck reversed course, recommending the county change to virtual learning rather than its original plan for a mix of in-person and distance learning.
Jeck said during a school board meeting Monday night that staffing shortages have created “insurmountable challenges” and would make quality in-person instruction impossible.
"This is not what I wanted to stand up here and tell you tonight. There is no one to blame but Mr. COVID," Jeck said.
Schools are short four school nurses, 20 bus drivers and have no teachers available to teach ESL students virtually under the hybrid plan, Jeck said.
Jeck said he hopes the school system could offer in-person learning beginning in January.
The school board unanimously approved his recommendation.
Fauquier County was the only Northern Virginia public school district with plans to resume in-person instruction, using a hybrid model.
Sixty-six percent of students were expected to participate in in-person learning.
Teachers went back to schools on Monday to prepare for the upcoming school year.
Two administrators at C.M. Bradley Elementary School recently tested positive for COVID-19.
"It was heartbreaking to hear that one of those employees was actually in the hospital, unfortunately," Fauquier County Education Association President Lauren Brill said.
The education association has been urging the school system to do a virtual-only plan in the fall.
Brill says the fact that two administrators have fallen ill only underscores their argument that in-person instruction is not yet safe.
"It really does strengthen our resolve and it really proves where we are moving toward and, unfortunately, what we are going to see happen in Fauquier County schools if we open up schools," Brill said.