CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Albemarle County Public Schools Superintendent Matt Haas announced he’s recommending the district move to Stage 3 of virtual and in-person learning, as upward of 70% of teachers say ACPS’s COVID-19 mitigation efforts are working.
“In spite of the strong effort and creativity of our teachers, virtual instruction is not perfect. It is less effective than in-person learning, especially when it’s done in isolation than in-person learning. And I believe it calls upon us to thoughtfully and safely expand in-person learning in Albemarle County Public Schools," Haas said during a media briefing.
The move to Stage 3 would mean more children back in the buildings, starting the pre-K through 3rd graders. Students who are in ABASE OR CBASE learning, English Language programs, as well as those without internet will be prioritized to return to the classroom.
"The health experts who advise this board, the Albemarle County Public School Board, say, quote ’they support efforts to safely increase the number of students returning for in-person instruction, and recommends focusing on younger students, smaller class or pod sizes with students adequately spaced,'” Haas said.
In-person instruction for younger learners will take place two days of the week.
The move from Stage 2 to Stage 3 would also mean parents and guardians would get to choose if their student returns to the classroom or continues with 100% virtual learning.
Haas says even with the move to bring more students to school, less than 25% of all enrolled students will be back in the classroom.
“The notion that, if we open our doors and a small number of students come in and our staff come in, we’re going to have outbreaks is not accurate. I understand the fear, I totally understand the fear," Haas said.
Despite growing COVID-19 numbers in the county, Haas said much of those infections come from the University of Virginia.
“Despite what we’re looking at in terms of data, as far as transmission in our community, what I know confidently, is that it does not enter the school building because of the mitigation strategies that we have in place which are recommendations from the CDC,” Haas said.
The district invested more than $1.5 million to improve air circulation in the buildings and implement other safety measures.
Other precautions like mask wearing and temperature checks will be required.
The Albemarle County School Board will vote on Haas’s recommendation tomorrow, October 8. If the board is in favor of his recommendation, the district will plan to move to Stage 3 on November 8, 2020.