HANOVER, Va. (WWBT) - As school leaders in Chesterfield County and the City of Richmond have voted for students to continue remote learning to begin the 2020-2021 school year, Hanover County Public Schools will offer “parents choice.” Families can choose between students learning online or returning to in-person classes.
A spokesman with HCPS says it received nearly 12,000 responses to a ‘Return to Learn’ survey. The survey showed 76% of families who took the survey, were in favor of students returning to school in person.
The ‘Return to Learn Task Force’ was comprised of approximately 100, including teachers, support staff, principals, division leaders, curriculum specialists, parents, students, community members and others.
While Virginia remains in Phase 3 of reopening, the school system offered the following to families:
Phase III (current phase)
- Parent choice: in-person or online instruction.
- Both options will consist of five days of full-time instruction, Monday through Friday.
- The pacing of instruction will be the same.
- The choice is binding. Parents may only change their students’ instructional option at the conclusion of the first semester if desired.
HCPS says face-to-face instruction will require face coverings and a minimum of three feet distance between everyone present. On buses, the school system will require a face mask and seat students one child per seat.
Parents are encouraged to provide their own transportation to and from school, but there is an option to opt into transportation.
“Some people are happy because they want to send their kids in the building or want to keep them home,” explained Julie Stubblefield, a Hanover County parent. “I am happy I have a choice, it is easy for me, my son will not be entering a school building - that is the best choice for our family to make.”
Stubblefield is now advocating for teachers with the group ‘Safe Return to Learn-Hanover,' she says teachers feel they have not been heard during the process of returning to school.
“I have received 250 anonymous teacher messages and they are all terrified,” she explained. “The problem is teachers didn’t get to make that choice [like parents] so our goal is to have as many people stay at home as possible so as few teachers have to be in the building as possible.”
Stubblefield says the organization understands there are students who need in-person instruction to ensure their safety, as well as ensure they receive necessary services. She says prioritizing those students could limit the number of students in schools.
“I can tell you right now every administrator knows which student needs to be in their building because it is in their best interest, and they could take precaution,” said Stubblefield. “That would be such small numbers compared to face-to-face five days a week, it would be safely mitigated.”
In a memo obtained by NBC12, the school system says staff members can transfer into teaching virtually, but priority goes to teachers with medical issues or living with someone who is a high risk for illness. The memo says as teachers consider the option of teaching virtually, it is important the know they may not be guaranteed a return to their originally assigned school.
“Since we have such little information about what a day will look like in a classroom, versus what a day will look like remote or distance learning, people are unsure - they are second-guessing themselves clicking ‘yes,‘” said Stubblefield.
Wednesday, ‘Safe Return to Learn-Hanover’ is holding an ‘Only When It’s Safe’ car rally.
A virtual town hall to answer families’ questions about the new school year is set to take place next Tuesday, June 28 at 7 p.m.
Copyright 2020 WWBT. All rights reserved.