Staunton students to head back to class for first time since pandemic started

Staunton students to head back to class for first time since pandemic started

STAUNTON, Va. (WVIR) - A majority of Staunton students have been learning virtually all year, but that changes next Tuesday as they head to the classroom when Staunton City Schools implements its hybrid teaching plan.

The School Board talked about bringing students back during a meeting Monday night.

Select students have been going to the schools, including pre-K, English language learners, and students needing additional supports. For the first time this school year, all students will have that opportunity. For many, it’s their first time back in a school classroom in 10 months.

“Making a decision that could potentially affect a teacher is not easy; however, the science is showing that we have a window to check on everybody, and I think we should take it,” said Staunton School Board member Natasha McCurdy.

Several Staunton School Board members say the decision to send students back to school has not been made lightly.

“We have heard from a fair amount of teachers that have some real concerns about this,” stated Staunton School Board member Christine Poulson.

However, they believe it’s safe. Staunton School Superintendent Dr. Garett Smith shared information from the Central Shenandoah Health District Director Dr. Laura Kornegay.

“She stated that all current and available data in Virginia and nationwide show no large-scale transmissions occurring inside classrooms and schools,” Smith said.

Health leaders say transmissions are happening outside the schools at large gatherings like weddings and funerals.

“Doctor Kornegay stated that despite significant community transmission the benefit of in-person instruction outweighs the risk of COVID transmission at this time,” stated Smith.

“For a portion of our student population, learning online just isn’t working for them regardless of how magnificently our teachers have risen to the challenge,” said Staunton School Board member Amy Wratchford.

Mitigation strategies inside the schools are working to prevent large outbreaks.

“We will get through this if everyone does what they should do, everyone,” stated Staunton School Board Chair Ken Venable. “Whether they’re in school, out of school, your mama, your daddy, your grandparent, your aunt, everybody.”

This week, school nurses are getting their vaccinations, and air purifiers are going into the classrooms.

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