CHESTERFIELD CO., Va. (WWBT) - Chesterfield school officials say the latest research shows schools are not ‘super spreaders’ and they believe buildings can reopen safely with health protocols in place. That’s why the board voted Tuesday night to re-open classrooms for elementary students beginning Feb. 1.
Dot Heffron was the only board member who voted no, saying she just can’t choose to send students back when coronavirus cases continue to soar.
Some parents weighed in saying they will rush at the opportunity to send their children back to the classroom. Now, parents will have the choice as virtual instruction still remains an option for elementary students.
“Sometimes you got to face your fears and go in and do your job,” Colin McCann said.
He has four children in Chesterfield Schools. When the district decided to go virtual, he quit his job with Chesterfield Fire and EMS so he could be a stay-at-home dad.
“I didn’t have an option. Daycare for my children would have cost almost as much as what I was making per month…I couldn’t do what I had to do anymore for my children while also working,” he shared.
That’s why he’s glad to see the school board vote to open back up the classroom for all elementary students.
“We believe our environment is safe and healthy for our students to come back to…Our teachers and administrators and support staff will be out in the hallways making sure social distancing is achieved to the greatest extent possible,” Superintendent Merv Daugherty said.
But school officials may find themselves having to convince some teachers that this will work.
“What is the rush to get students into the classrooms when we are still experiencing the highest rate of positivity cases?” asked Sonia Smith with the Chesterfield Education Association.
By March 1, school officials believe all staff will have had the opportunity to be vaccinated.
“Allow the dissemination of the vaccine to reach all employees so we can all return safely,” Smith continued.
Yet, the voice of parents who just want the option for elementary students prevailed.
“I really want my middle schooler and higher schooler to be right behind them,” McCann said.
For now, middle schoolers and high schoolers in Chesterfield will remain virtual. The board will meet again next month to discuss those groups.
Henrico decided to delay returning to in-person learning, while Dinwiddie is temporarily switching to all virtual learning. Richmond Schools decided to remain virtual for the remainder of the school year.
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