Chesapeake Schools to bring all grade levels back toclassrooms — at least part-time — within a month

by San Eli News

CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — All students whose parents want them back in the classroom can expect to be there, at least some of the time, within the next month.

Monday night, the Chesapeake School Board voted 6-3 to approve a plan that would have all students grades K-12 cycling through school buildings again by Nov. 16.

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All students won’t be coming into the building five days a week, and virtual learning will still be leaned upon heavily. Superintendent Dr. Jared Cotton said moving forward that way is necessary to abide by state social distancing guidelines and to have enough staff. Dr. Cotton explained that there are high numbers of dual rostered classes in upper-grade levels.

“Schools do not appear to be connected to the spread of the disease in our community,” Cotton said in his presentation to the board.

The school district has reported 29 total cases of COVID-19 in faculty and staff members since the beginning of September and eight cases in students, according to the weekly reports on its website.

Chesapeake Schools Weekly COVID-19 Metrics

The school district over the summer gave parents the choice to have their students continue with online learning when the district decided things safe enough to bring students back for face-to-face instruction. The district already has kindergarten through seventh-graders in school buildings. Only kindergarten through third grade students are in the building five days a week.

The remaining students have returned under the blended model, which has them on campus two days a week and three days at home, with one day a week designated as a student support day.

On days when students are at home, they will get the same lesson as the instruction takes place together with the teacher leading both groups, according to Cotton. Then, while those at home continue with the lesson on their own, the teacher can assist those in the classroom.

Starting Nov. 9, high school freshmen will return under that model. Eighth-graders will return “blended” Nov. 12, with the rest of the high schoolers returning Nov. 16.

Also on Nov. 16, fourth and fifth-graders currently learning under the blended model will be transitioned to five days a week in-class settings.

Before the vote many parents lamented that at-home learning was “not working” and several teachers also commented that the current workload was too much as it is.

There was an effort led by board member Christie New Craig to direct Cotton to bring all students back to five days a week learning by Nov. 16, however it failed.

“As much as I’d like to not have the ‘new normal’ but ‘normal,’ we just aren’t there yet,” board member Thomas Mercer said.