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Henrico shortens virtual classes, prepares for the return of students to school

Posted at 7:55 AM, Sep 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-25 07:55:40-04

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- The Henrico County School Board met Thursday to discuss the best plan to get students back in the classroom.

“We moved into what we call the Health Committee update. Where we review health metrics that help guide our thinking and eventually our decision-making on when we can expand our in-person learning," Director of Communications for Henrico County Public Schools Andy Jenks said.

Jenks said some students have already returned to in-person learning.

"Right now, we have opportunities where preschoolers and kindergarteners are going into buildings for one-on-one meet and greet and tours with their teachers," Jenks said. "Our elementary schools are going to make more opportunities available for students in grades one, two, and three, so parents should expect communications from their schools about those opportunities.”

Jenks said Henrico was looking at ways to bring high school students back -- starting with technical programming students.

"Because they do a lot of hands-on instruction in the various trades and occupations and certifications that those students are learning," Jenks said.

In anticipation of the return of in-person learning, Jenks said the school district is working to make sure the school buildings are as safe as possible.

"We’re buying the PPE, we’re installing the plexiglass, we’re reimagining bus transportation and food service because we have to do the work now when if that recommendation comes, we will be ready for it," Jenks said.

He added that the Health Committee will present a recommendation to the Henrico School Board next month to determine how the second nine weeks of school will look and if more students will be able to return to the classroom.

Henrico previously decided the first nine weeks would be taught almost exclusively virtual.

“We’re working toward the outcome of having all students back in our building, but we know no matter what there’s always going to be a virtual option for our employees and for our students," Jenks said.

The county also announced Thursday that school schedules would change Tuesday, September 29, in response to feedback the county has received.

Each middle and high school class period will be shortened by 15 minutes each day, excluding the repeating first period for high school, which has been shortened by 10 minutes every day.

The district said this will give staff an additional hour for planning, instructional support, and office hours.