Charlottesville City Schools proposes new plan sending students back as early as October

Charlottesville City Schools proposes new plan sending students back as early as October
Public school buses (FILE) (Source: WVIR)

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - After the Charlottesville School Board voted this summer to keep learning completely virtual for the first nine weeks of the school year, Charlottesville City Schools (CCS) may be returning earlier than anticipated.

“One of the key words is proposed," COVID-19 Advisory Committee Chair Dr. Beth Baptist said. "We needed to start somewhere with the plan, so this is where we’ve started.”

Dr. Baptist says one of the main reasons for this proposal is timing: “When you look at the calendar, if we come in, in a phased approach in November, some students might not come in until just before Thanksgiving," she said. "We’ve got that break, and then in December we would have another break, so that would not be long-term continuity in instruction.”

Dr. Baptist also says the committee is paying close attention to the numbers regarding COVID-19 in order to make a safe decision.

“I’m looking at the UVA tracker, which I know somewhat feeds into the Department of ED tracker, looking at the positivity rates attending meetings with Thomas Jefferson Health District every week,” Baptist said. "Also, [we’re] following what some of the school divisions who have started back, how they’re doing and what measures they have added.”

Even though only proposed, this plan is getting some push back, including from Jennifer McKeever, a member of the Charlottesville School Board.

“I feel like the expedited plan is is a little too soon, because I feel like we don’t have really a grasp of what data we should be using to determine how it when it’s safe to go back to school,” McKeever said.

Regardless, the board has the final say on the matter.

“We do have the final say on the plan,” McKeever said. “So I look forward to a robust discussion on the first. I am very curious if there are underlying reasons for expediting the plan and changing the plan, but I haven’t heard them yet, and I look forward to hearing them.”

As of now, the Charlottesville School Board is scheduled to meet on October 1, and if the superintendent feels the proposal is ready, it will then be given to the board.

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