Albemarle County Public Schools prepares for reopening in the fall

Albemarle Co. Public Schools prepares for re-opening in the fall

ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) - Albemarle County families will soon know when students can return to school, but it will undoubtedly look different than in years past.

Virginia is preparing to enter Phase Three of reopening next week, which has new guidelines for restaurants, gyms, and pools. However, school districts across the commonwealth have a different set of guidelines to help reduce the spread of the coronavirus.

“We know that the most interesting thing, or the most important thing, for parents and students is when will we start school, and how we start school,” Albemarle County Public Schools (ACPS) Deputy Superintendent Debora Collins said.

It may be the most important question, but it’s among the hardest to answer.

“With the guidelines from the CDC, our own health department, and now our Back to School Task Force, being able to keep social distancing does not allow us to have all students back in every day, just like it was before March 13,” Collins said.

Instead, schools will look less conventional, as ACPS prepares for a school year divided between in-person classes and online classes.

“We will be doing some blended learning,” Collins said. “Some days some students will be in school, and other days other students will be in school.”

Collins said that one thing ACPS has to consider is how to ensure students that would benefit the most from in-person settings, such as special education students, are able to attend those classes.

Even as students make it back toward the classroom, ACPS has to handle the questions surrounding mask wearing.

“If we can’t social distance, that starts pushing us to think strongly about the health benefits that wearing a mask provides,” Collins said.

But for many, going to school means having to ride the bus, where there are additional safety concerns. Albemarle County Public Schools is sending out a survey to ask parents if there are other ways their students could get to school.

“We can only put so many kids on a bus at a time, and that starts limiting how many students can get to school in a certain window, so that it becomes somewhat of a numbers game,” Collins said.

While those decisions are still being worked on, one will is expected to be finalized Friday, June 26, by a School Board vote: the school calendar. The two most likely options have start dates of September 2 or September 8.

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