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Chesterfield Schools recommending return to in-person learning

Posted at 9:14 PM, Jan 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-12 06:28:18-05

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- In a school board meeting scheduled for Tuesday evening, Chesterfield County school leaders will recommend a new plan that would allow some students to return to in-person learning next month.

The county has been doing all-virtual learning since Thanksgiving break due to rising COVID-19 cases.

The plan was for all virtual learning to last at least through the end of the first semester, which ends on January 29.

If passed tomorrow by the school board, eligible elementary school students could return at the start of the third nine weeks on February 1 and middle and high school students would continue with all-virtual learning until returning to in-person classes sometime before the end of the third nine weeks.

Elementary schools

  • Jan. 29: The scheduled three-hour early release for students would become a full asynchronous day for all students. This will allow teachers time to finish first-semester grades and prepare their classroom for the return of students.
  • Feb. 1: All Cohort Nos. 2-3 students are eligible to return to in-person instruction five days a week starting with the first day of the third marking period.
  • Notification: Families who desire to make a change to their in-person or virtual choice would need to notify their child’s school by 4 p.m. on Jan. 19. Your school will notify you how to do this. Note: This change may impact who your child’s teacher(s) is/are.
  • Binding: The choice a family makes will be binding for the remainder of the school year.

Middle and high schools

  • Jan. 29: The scheduled three-hour early release for students would become a full asynchronous day for all students. This will allow teachers time to finish first-semester grades and prepare their classroom for the eventual return of students.
  • Feb. 1: All Cohort No. 4 students would start the third marking period in a virtual learning environment five days a week. (The asynchronous Wednesdays would be eliminated.)
  • February 2021: The School Board will review vaccination and other health data to determine at what point during the third marking period middle and high school students can return to in-person learning five days a week.
  • Notification: Families who desire to make a change to their in-person or virtual choice would need to notify their child’s school. A deadline for doing so will be shared as a final decision is made.

As the nation hits the 10-month mark of the COVID-19 pandemic, student failure rates, along with mental health concerns, are growing within Chesterfield County Schools.

"Chesterfield County Public Schools has been very deliberate about its return to a five-day-a-week, in-person learning environment, focusing on the safety and health of our 60,000-plus students and nearly 7,500 staff members. This deliberate approach has allowed medical and public health experts time to better understand the virus, make recommendations about how to safely reopen schools, and the opportunity to see if the recommendations were correct and adjust where needed," a school spokesperson said in an email sent to Chesterfield families.

"Ten months into the virus, we believe we are at a point where the recommendations have been thoroughly vetted and proven as time-tested through successful implementation elsewhere, and that it is appropriate to return Chesterfield County Public Schools students safely back into classrooms for in-person instruction five days a week. While case count numbers and positivity rates are higher now than when Chesterfield County Public Schools returned to an all-virtual environment in November, understanding of the COVID-19 virus has continued to evolve."

"Socially, mentally they need to be in school with their peers in front of their teachers. That connection you have face to face- with someone and not behind a screen is taking its toll almost a year later," parent Amy Nadder said.

A Chesterfield school nurse, who didn't want to be identified, agreed.

"These educators are not worried about catching our students up they are worried about bringing Covid to their homes," that employee said.

The School Board's work session will be held Tuesday at 4 p.m. and the business meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. Both will be live-streamed here.