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Chesterfield middle and high school students resume in-person learning in November

Posted at 3:31 PM, Oct 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-27 18:30:59-04

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- Middle and high school students, also known as cohort 4, will return to in-person learning at Chesterfield schools on November 9, Superintendent Dr. Merv Daugherty said before Tuesday's school board work session where members were presented a report from a health committee guiding the return to in-person learning.

"[The health committee] felt it was safe enough to come back to what they were viewing in the metrics," Daugherty said. "It's not a perfect world where we are with the epidemic. But they brought the first three cohorts back and they felt it was safe enough to bring the fourth cohort back."

Nicholas Oyler, coordinator of Student Health Services at Chesterfield County Public Schools (CCPS), said it was a split-decision from the committee.

Cohort three, which included mostly fourth and fifth-grade students, returned to in-person learning in Chesterfield on Monday, October 26.

Students in cohorts two, three, and four will return with a hybrid system of two in-person learning days.

"Monday and Tuesday will be students A to K. Thursday and Friday will be everyone else, L-Z," Daugherty said referring to students' last names. "This will allow us to stay within the six-foot radius guidelines that we have for social distancing."

The students would learn-from-home the days they were not in the classroom.

The hybrid model will stay in place through the rest of the first semester which ends the third week of January 2021.

Parents will still have the option of keeping their children home to learn in a virtual setting.

Daugherty anticipated 75-percent of middle and high school students would opt to return to in-person learning.

And that, he said, could create transportation challenges.

"Our parents have been very helpful and supportive of driving their students to school. We know that it's going to be a challenge for our transportation people when you have only one [student] per seat. We are still asking our parents to help us drive the students to school," he added. "But we know that we'll be running our routes and probably doing double backs. But our goal is to get the students to school."

Daugherty said the school system would have the ability to end in-person learning for the county or specific schools should COVID-19 cases flare-up.

"We're just trying to do the best we can for our students," Daugherty said.

Earlier this month, Henrico Schools announced middle and high school students could return to in-person learning as early as February 2021.

Richmond Schools previously committed to conducting the entire first semester with students learning from home. A plan for the second semester has not yet been announced.