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Richmond Public Schools prepares to welcome 20,000 students for in-person learning

Division’s virtual academy now at capacity
Published: Aug. 30, 2021 at 2:28 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 30, 2021 at 8:34 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - On Sept. 8, Richmond Public Schools (RPS) will welcome back 20,000 students for in-person learning, with another 2,000 opting for the division’s virtual academy.

Virtual learning options for students are also drying up. The division’s virtual academy is now at capacity as the delta variant has parents rethinking those choices.

“We anticipate people will continue to identify virtual opportunities even though RPS virtual is at capacity. It’s something that we will continue to evaluate going forward,” said Jonathan Young, Richmond School Board.

RPS is dealing with COVID outbreaks within different school buildings. In recent months, about 5,000 students attended in-person learning summer school.

“Even with all the mitigation strategies in the world, there’s still no way to get to a zero percent chance of infection,” said Jason Kamras, Richmond Public Schools Superintendent.

The division, working with the health department, has a protocol plan in place for contact tracing. Also, if an entire class has to go into quarantine, Kamras says the lesson plan will go virtual to minimize disruptions.

“I completely understand the anxiety and fear that many families face, please know that we are doing everything we possibly can to keep everybody healthy and safe. I feel so confident in our measures that I will be sending my both of my children back,” said Kamras.

The division has also spent millions to upgrade HVAC systems for schools, and hospital-grade air filters will be in all public spaces.

School employees are also now under a vaccine mandate. RPS has a 100% masking policy for everyone - both inside and outside - no matter vaccination status.

“With that expectation, with this level of community transmission, it’s inevitable and the way to approach this then is to really take a cautious approach - to think about what happens or will happen when a positive case does occur,” said Rebekah Butterfield, RHHD COVID-19 Epidemiologist.

35.8% of those aged 12 to 17 are fully vaccinated in Richmond. Compare that to neighboring Henrico County where it stands at 51.8%.

Copyright 2021 WWBT. All rights reserved.

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