Harrisonburg K-8 students to return on April 26

Harrisonburg K-8 students to return on April 26
(FILE) (Source: WHSV)

HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - The Harrisonburg City School Board members heard a proposal Tuesday, March 23, to get more students back to class on April 26.

Superintendent Dr. Michael Richards initially proposed five days of in-person instruction every week for K-8 students, including the identified students learning at Harrisonburg High School, and maintain the 5-hour instructional day.

Board members, parents, and teachers said Wednesdays have been a vital day for teachers to prepare and plan. Some also said it would be a harsh transition for students.

After a public comment period and discussion, board members amended the plan to be four days a week for K-8 and identified HHS students.

The start date of April 26 will remain the same.

There will be no virtual or in-person instruction for K-8 on April 22 and April 23 to allow teachers transition and preparation time.

“We’re going to do division-wide communication tomorrow, and then families will be told the plan and that they have an option to remain virtual,” Richards said.

Masks will continue to be required, seating will be 3 feet apart, random temperature checks will be given, and students and families should continue conducting self-check health screenings.

In preparation to bring more students back, schools have done repairs to HVAC systems, purchased air purifiers for every classroom, and worked to create outdoor learning spaces to get children out into fresh air as much as possible.

There will be some changes to meal pick-ups when students return April 26, which have been provided free to children over the past year. Tuesday meal pick-ups will be discontinued at elementary and middle schools, but will continue at HHS.

Wednesday delivery routes will be discontinued too, but volunteers can deliver to virtual students that lack transportation.

Harrisonburg City Public Schools is asking parents that can provide transportation or help their children walk to school if they are able to allow space for those that need to ride the bus.

Masks must be worn on buses and students will sit two-per bench.

Dr. Richards explained that HCPS will work to continue to bring more students back. He said they are planning for a full reopening in the fall of 2021.

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