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Chesterfield County students could return to the classroom in September

Virus Outbreak Schools
Posted at 11:38 PM, Aug 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-25 23:54:13-04

CHESTERFIELD, Va. -- The first day of school is around the corner. This year, students in Chesterfield will start classes virtually.

The school board made the decision in July and created a public health committee to determine when kids should return to in-person learning.

"The testing turnaround time is going to be a factor in terms of how we look of things moving forward,' Dr. Thomas Taylor, Deputy Superintendent of Human Relations, said.

Tuesday, that special committee shared updates with the board.

Now, the county said they are looking to bring students back in phases by cohorts, starting with special education students.

Cohort two would include pre-k through second grade.

Each grade would be assigned a cohort and students would return to the classroom gradually.

But the plan would only be implemented if data shows the spread of COVID-19 is declining in the county.

"Our goal is to have 50 percent or less of our student population in the schoolhouse at one time so we can maintain social distancing," Dr. Taylor said.

To keep the distance, the plan would limit the number of days each cohort was in the building. For example, "cohort one" would have in-person learning four days a week, while cohorts two through four would only meet two days a week.

Dr. Taylor said PPE supplies would be provided.

"This is everything from gowns to masks to hand sanitizer stations, personal hand sanitizer bottles, gloves," Dr. Taylor said.

The committee is recommending September 29 as the earliest possible return to class date, but that’s only if COVID-19 numbers go down.

They said their most important objective is to keep students safe.

"We would like to do this once, get it right, send them to school, start adding cohorts every other weeks and make sure that our kids are safe and do this the right way instead of pausing and pull some kids back," Dr. Taylor said.

Chesterfield County Public School will start virtually September 8. The School board will meet again September 14 to hear another update from the public health committee.