CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WWBT) - School leaders in Chesterfield County have given the green light for more students to return to in-person learning.
The Chesterfield County School Board said Cohort 2, which is students in pre-K to third-grade, will go back to school in-person on Monday, Oct. 12.
This phased re-opening approach is part of the Chesterfield County School Project Restart program which aims to have all students back in the classroom by November
The school district has begun to resume in-person learning, beginning with students with special needs.
Mother of two sons in fourth grade, Carrie Love, says it was necessary for her son with special needs to go back to school in-person.
“He has a lot of disabilities and he is not able to connect virtually and stay focused on the platform offered,” she explained.
Love says her son is academically at a second-grade level. He is just getting to a point of reading and writing as best he can.
“He regressed so far during virtual learning,” she said “The amount he regressed from March devastated me.”
Returning in-person, Love hopes her son will catch up academically and continue to progress. She says he is currently in a classroom with two other children.
Love’s son is among 1,000 students K-12 with special needs who returned in-person Tuesday. The district says class sizes range from 1-7. Students and staff are required to wear masks, as well as social distance. Lunches are given in carryout containers, and students eat in the classrooms.
Love says mask-wearing has been a challenge for her son, but CCPS agreed to make health and safety accommodations to protect him, as well as students and teachers.
“One of his problems is oral motor skills, it took years to where he wasn’t drooling constantly. When we started the mask, the drooling started again,” she explained. “They said they are going to provide Plexiglas shields on his desk. For kids who [have] special needs, who can’t wear a mask, they say there are other things they can do to make it work.”
Love has another son who continues to learn virtually from home. He is scheduled to return with the third cohort of students.
“We are looking at another month before my other son goes back," she said.
Tuesday, during a school board work session, the district’s health committee recommended the second cohort of students return in-person on Oct. 12.
The next phase of in-person learning will include all students in Cohort 1, as well as Pre-K through third-graders.
Cohort 2 students will return in-person two days a week. The other three days will include online learning.
- Group 1: Monday and Tuesday (Students with the last name A-K)
- Group 2: Thursday and Friday (Students with last name L-Z)
Wednesday’s will be reserved for school cleaning days and virtual days for all students in Cohort 2. Officials say all students will follow their specific schools operating schedule, with virtual schedules also adjusting to align with that schools' start times.
Samples of virtual schedules for elementary, secondary and high school students can be found, HERE.
During days of online instruction, emphasis will be placed on building skills and a willingness to stay focused in an online setting.
Audrey Overstreet says Alex, her 5-year-old grandson with cerebral palsy, had trouble staying focused during his virtual lessons but says he’s already beginning to benefit from his in-person classes. She adds that the opportunity for more students to benefit from in-person learning just as her grandson has.
“Kids like Alex, they just can’t virtually learn; I can’t imagine how much work that was for the teacher to try to coordinate that because every kid is different,” said Overstreet. “I know that many parents have been waiting for that kind of news and I’m very happy for them.”
CCPS says families across all grade levels have the option to remain virtual for the rest of the semester if they choose to not return in-person.
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