New policies, committees in place for Charlottesville students ahead of virtual start

New policies, committees in place for Charlottesville students ahead of virtual start

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - At the Charlottesville School Board’s final meeting before the 2020-21 school year begins, policies were finalized and committees were formed to keep students safe and prepared for the future of learning.

With school starting next Tuesday, September 8, the board met to review policies before most students log on for the first time. This includes a mask mandate for any in-person instruction.

“This is a policy I never thought I’d be bringing to a school board, about masks and face coverings,” said Dr. Beth Baptist, coordinator of Career and Technical Education.

It’s a back-to-school proposal unlike any other. The city schools will mandate all students, teachers, and staff wear a mask or face covering at all times while on campus unless they are eating or drinking.

CPS also announced the summer meal program and distribution will continue “into the fall months” and it has “added new stops on our bus routes,” said Chief Academic Officer Dr. Katina Otey.

The board also discussed how it will determine plans for the second quarter of the school year.

A committee of parents, students, teachers, two board members, and representatives from the schools and the University of Virginia gets that responsibility.

“[The committee] would continue to look at the data, monitor the data, gather information from other school divisions from around the country, and the research, so that we can make an informed recommendation to our board,” said Superintendent Dr. Rosa Atkins.

Members of the board advocated for more parent representation on the committee. The board also nominated Lisa Torres and chair Jennifer McKeever to be the board’s representatives.

Right now in Charlottesville there is a coronavirus positivity rate of nearly 10 percent and cases have risen for 12 straight days despite no ongoing outbreaks. There’s concern that that’s because students at UVA have started coming back.

“I am not going to let us just accept the argument that it’s not all UVA students because that’s literally the only thing that’s changed over the past two weeks,” McKeever said.

Another committee organized will discuss student safety plans after the board discontinued school resource officers. But there was a debate as to whether or not a police representative should be on the committee.

“I think if we have a voice at the table, you are listening, you’re not committing” said board vice-chair Leah Puryear.

“I just think that if we’re trying to do something new and better, new and different, then it needs to come from a different place and it needs to start from a different place” argued bpard member Lashundra Bryson Morsberger.

The school year will unofficially kick off with breakfast blitzes around the city.

The city also announced it has prepared and distributed approximately 3,000 Chromebooks to students and will deliver more than 300 hot spots to support families get internet access. Those deliveries start on Sept. 4.

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