West Hills Elementary School is moving to virtual instruction due to rising COVID-19 cases in the community.

In a letter sent to parents Thursday, Meridian Public School District Superintendent Amy Carter said students would return to in-person classes Jan. 24.

“With the number of teachers and students testing positive or being quarantined, it’s difficult to continue face-to-face instruction and supervise students with staff,” Carter said.

Carter said the students and teachers in close contact with those testing positive have been notified.

During the virtual instruction period, students will be able to attend classes via Zoom and complete assignments on Google Classroom, Carter said in the letter to parents. First through Fifth-grade students will follow their regular schedule and must attend each class to be counted present. Links to the Zoom classes will be available in Google Classroom.

Teachers of pre-K and kindergarten students will be reaching out to parents to explain assignments for virtual learning.

Carter said the move to online learning wasn’t made lightly, but it was necessary to protect the safety of students and staff.

“Please know this was not an easy decision,” she said. “We continue to make the safety and well-being of our students and staff our number one priority. We know that the best and most effective learning takes place in the classroom, but the circumstances of West Hills Elementary School make that difficult at this time.”

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