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Chesterfield Schools begin in-class learning: 'We’ve had a really positive response.'

Posted at 12:36 PM, Sep 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-29 12:51:07-04

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- About 1,000 special education students returned to the classroom in Chesterfield County Tuesday. They're the first cohort of four, to begin being phased in for in-person learning.

Chesterfield Schools spokesperson Shawn Smith, said Tuesday morning, that so far, things were going well.

"We’ve had a really positive response," said Smith. "We know that certainly parents may have had to adjust getting their child to the bus stop and getting to school, so know that there may be issues along the way. But we’ll begin to smooth those things out throughout this week."

Smith said the goal was to phase in the remaining three cohorts every two weeks, with all grades back in school by mid-November. Special Education students would return to the classroom four days a week.

However, all other students would only be attending school two days a week, while working virtually the other three.

Smith said students who wished to remain fully virtual would have that option. He said the district would also make accommodations for staff with additional federal requirements.

"There will always be a teacher in the classroom setting," said Smith. "What may happen is if a student and their families decide to continue virtual instruction, we may not be able to guarantee they would have that same teacher. We might have to staff differently just for those students in the virtual setting. So we're constantly trying to manage, certainly with the students that are coming back and the staff members that are there."

Smith said students and staff returning to school would wear masks and remain socially distant as much as possible. He said it would take vigilance from both parents and staff to make sure students are following CDC guidelines.

"We really appreciate certainly the patience of our parents throughout this process," said Smith. "We are unique in Chesterfield -- one of the few school divisions across the Commonwealth of Virginia that are still adhering CDC guidelines and still bringing back students in phase-in approaches, so appreciate that parents work closely with their students as we enter the school buildings. It's certainly not like it was back in March, so certainly understanding those new requirements that we have upon ourselves."

Smith said the School Board would meet Tuesday afternoon at 3 p.m. to hear from the Health Panel about sending back cohort two, which included pre-K through third graders.

He said if they moved forward on that recommendation, those students would begin two days of in person instruction on October 12.