3 Suffolk elementary schools to switch to virtual learning next week due to COVID outbreaks


COVID-19 outbreaks in several elementary schools in Suffolk has forced them to transition to virtual learning next week.

For the school week of Jan. 17-21, Kilby Shores Elementary, Mack Benn, Jr. Elementary, and Southwestern Elementary will learn virtually. Suffolk schools will be closed on Monday, Jan. 17 for Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Students and staff should prepare for in-person learning to resume on Monday, Jan. 24.

Suffolk Public Schools said Wednesday night there were more than 1,000 students and an “overwhelming” number of staff members in quarantine. Virginia Department of Health data indicates Suffolk has a high transmission rate.

“As our quarantine numbers continue to rise, remaining in in-person learning is simply a risk that we can no longer continue to take in certain schools. Parents, we hear you, and we understand your concern in keeping your children safe, as the safety of our students and staff has and always will be our number one priority,” Suffolk Public Schools wrote in a message to families Wednesday.

The Suffolk School Board plans to review the district’s COVID metrics on Thursday to see if additional schools need to be switched to virtual learning.

Gov. Ralph Northam on Jan. 10 declared a state of emergency in response to record-setting COVID-19 case numbers. The order relaxes regulations to be able to bring in licensed providers from out of state, and gives hospitals more flexibility to increase bed capacity.

Some other area schools have temporarily transitioned to virtual learning in response to high COVID-19 case numbers, including in York County and Chesapeake.

Suffolk schools said they’re monitoring the status of several other schools to decide if they will need to transition to virtual learning at some point.

During the virtual learning period, students at those three elementary schools will log on for classes daily on Canvas. teachers and staff will work from their buildings.

Students at Kilby Shores Elementary, Mack Benn, Jr. Elementary and Southwestern Elementary can request an internet hotspot if they do not have an internet connection at home Those forms need to be filled out by 1 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 14. They can be picked up between 9 a.m. and noon on Monday, Jan. 17 at John F. Kennedy Middle School, door #16, by families who received email confirmation notifying them they were approved for a hotspot.

Students can also receive five-day meal kits on Friday, Jan. 14. Parents may need to arrange to assist the students in getting them. Meals will also be distributed from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 18. Students and/or their parents can pick up meals at their respective schools.

Students who get daily medication at school will need to have their families arrange medication pickup with their schools.

Building rentals and facility use will be postponed.

Instructions for virtual learning from Suffolk Public Schools:

  • Students will login daily at their scheduled class time and are expected to participate in all daily instructional activities provided. 
  • Students will follow their regular school instructional schedule.
  • Student special education case management services will continue according to their current schedule.
  • Attendance protocols are the same as regular instructional days. Students who do not attend live instruction will be marked absent. 
  • Canvas is the required learning platform for all students. Teachers will use Zoom, BigBlueButton, or Google Meet for live instruction.
  • Teachers will communicate links for live instruction through Canvas.
  • Grades will still be available in HAC.

School Hours

  • Elementary – 9:25 a.m. to 3:50 p.m.
  • Middle – 7:25 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • High – 8:20 a.m. to 3 p.m.


The Virginia Department of Health will hold a COVID-19 testing event in Suffolk this week:

  • Friday, January 14, 2022
  • 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
  • East Suffolk Recreation Center, 138 S. 6th Street, Suffolk 23434
  • PCR testing only
  • No pre-registration needed
  • Testing is done by a VDH vendor

Find other testing events in the Hampton Roads region, at this link.


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