School districts welcome students back into buildings, Petersburg unveils its plan

Petersburg students can return next week

PETERSBURG, Va. (WWBT) - The Class of 2021 is among the group of students that just want to get back into their schools.

Traditional graduations with packed facilities haven’t happened due to the need for social distancing.

“My oldest daughter was a senior in high school last year and is a freshman this year in college. They’ve missed out on so much fun - everything [from] prom to graduating with their friends,” said Tom Fabrie.

Tuesday, Chesterfield County welcomed back middle and high school students into school buildings for the first time since the pandemic. Right now, Petersburg is preparing to do the same. It will be a step-by-step process. First elementary students will report next Wednesday, then middle and high schoolers a few weeks later.

Many parents with young children in Petersburg will want to have March 17 marked on the calendar.

“Our Kindergarteners have not had an official first day of school so for many of them, that will be their first day,” said Superintendent Dr. Maria Pitre-Martin.

Their first day ever as an elementary student. Petersburg is falling in line with the governor’s orders to give all parents the option to bring their children back into the classroom if they choose. 750 elementary students in Petersburg said yes.

“Some of our students have performed better virtually but for many of our students, virtual is just not their preferred method of learning, so they need to be in a classroom,” Pitre-Martin added.

The superintendent points to changes students can expect when they get in the building - of course, masks and social distancing, but also smaller class sizes. In some cases, there will only be a dozen students.

“Not only do we have the hand-held temperature scanners, but we also have the facial recognition temperature scanners as well. We have purchased UV ray machines for disinfecting of large spaces. We have the electrostatic sprayers. You will see a lot of signage throughout our building,” she said.

After a few weeks of having primary students back, middle and high schoolers can expect to return come April 12. That’s something many seniors welcome.

“Helping them complete their college applications and FAFSA. Those are things we’ve been doing virtually, but we’re excited about being a little closer to help them complete that process,” the superintendent added.

Because some students may have fallen behind while at home, Petersburg is considering opening up summer school to all students so they can have more time to catch up, especially seniors who may need extra credits for college.

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