Henrico school board makes decision on in-person learning plan

Updated: Feb. 4, 2021 at 3:58 PM EST
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HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WWBT) - The Henrico County School Board has voted on a plan that will allow students to return to in-person learning.

The board voted 4-1 in favor of students returning to the classroom; Brookland District board member Kristi Kinsella voted no.

“I understand the toll this pandemic has had on all our lives and we are yearning for a sense of normalcy,” said Fairfield District board member Rev. Roscoe Cooper.

There were several factors board members had to consider regarding the in-person learning timeline, including staff vaccinations.

“All Henrico County Public School staff wanting the vaccine will have received their first dose by tomorrow afternoon,” said Dr. Beth Teigen, Chief of Staff for HCPS.

That means roughly 6,000 staff members will soon await second dose vaccinations.

Per the Henrico County Emergency Operations Center, those vaccinations will happen Feb. 17 through March 5 on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays.

Meanwhile, the potential for increased side effects do come with this second dose.

It is why the Health Committee recommended the board take that under consideration when deciding on a timeline.

“On those second dose days our students are virtual,” said Chair and Three Chopt board member Michelle Ogburn. “To allow our staff to get it and possibly get over those side effects.”

The approved timeline for students to return is as follows:

  • Feb. 22: PreK through 2nd-grade
  • March 1: PreK through 5th-grade, along with 6th and 9th-grade students
  • March 8: 7th and 8th-grade students, along with the rest of the secondary students

“I think the most important part is our schools are safe to return students and staff to the building,” said Vice-Chair and Tuckahoe District board member Marcie Shea.

“Goodness knows we’ve spent so much money of the CARES Act trying to prepare and make our buildings safe,” Kinsella said.

Meanwhile, from Feb. 22 through March 5 students will have in-person instruction on Monday and Tuesday with the rest of the week being virtual.

Starting March 8, students would then go to four-days a week of in-person learning.

At this point, all students will be virtual on Wednesdays for “Wellness Wednesdays.” This is an opportunity for the school setting to be cleaned, along with other mitigation efforts.

Moving forward with this timeline will take some adjustments and board members are calling for patience and help from the HCPS family and community.

“It really does take more than just the bricks to create a conducive learning environment,” said Varina District board member Alicia Atkins.

Decisions on school closures would be made on a school to school basis, rather than district-wide when students return.

More details are expected to be released by HCPS leaders within the coming days.

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