As ‘Back to School’ nears in Charlottesville, COVID contingency plan, concerns discussed

Published: Aug. 23, 2021 at 10:33 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Parents in Charlottesville are just hours away from sending their kids off to in-person school full-time -- many for the first time in well over a year.

There are already contingency plans and concerns from the school’s community.

The first day of school for Charlottesville students Wednesday will come in the midst of a COVID challenge: cases are rising and not every kid can get vaccinated.

At the same time, there’s a new law in Virginia -- one that wasn’t on the books last school year.

As Charlottesville City Schools get set to welcome back familiar faces (behind masks) they have one strict guideline from the governor.

“The law says we’re to open with five-day-a-week,” said Beth Baptist. She is the acting director of human resources and student services for Charlottesville City Schools. “We’ve been reminded by the Department of Education that we’re to offer all of our students 180 days of instructions.”

“You don’t feel like anything that you’re doing right now is right,” said Lashundra Bryson Morsberger, a mom to two CCS students under the age of 12. She’s also a member of the school board. “It all feels like the wrong decision”

Bryson Morsberger is speaking out with the hope of more flexibility from the state, similarly to last year, when each district was responsible for which learning model it used.

“It just feels like right now, as we’re going into a surge and schools are starting, and the UVA students are back, that this would be the time when we need the most flexibility,” she said.

For CCS now, the plan is to stay in person unless the Blue Ridge Health District, or statewide agencies like the Virginia Department of Health or Virginia Department of Education, suggests otherwise.

“My thought on going ahead and starting, even if we might have to pivot later, let’s get started,” Baptist said. “Let’s build the relationships.”

Bryson Morsberger adds that she fully supports what the school division is doing as far as COVID-19 mitigation measures. That includes the vaccine mandate just put in place ahead of the school year. According to CCS, approximately 95% of staff who are required to be vaccinated are fully vaccinated.

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