PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — The day after Labor Day signals the start of a new school year for many students in Hampton Roads. Several local school districts will welcome students back to the classroom on Tuesday. For some, it’ll be their first time in a classroom in more than a year.
To help keep returning students and staff stay safe, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam issued a statewide mask mandate for all schools.
This applies to teachers, students, and other staff, regardless of their vaccination status.
Portsmouth, Chesapeake, Hampton, Suffolk, Accomack, and Isle of Wight schools return Tuesday morning.
Face masks will be required on school buses too and students are now allowed to be as many as 2 or 3 to a seat.
Director of Student Transportation for Chesapeake Public Schools, Dr. David Benson says they’re facing a major bus driver shortage.
This means some drivers are having to run two routes.
“In those cases, students may be late getting to their classes and that’s where encouraging parents to provide that transportation will prevent that from happening,” Dr. Benson said.
“We basically have designated one teacher at each grade level in the elementary and then we have teachers at the secondary level that have specific or designated periods where they’re teaching the virtual students,” said Superintendent Dr. John Gordon III.
SPS online was created after Virtual Virginia filled up over the summer. Now, SPS Online is also currently filled, but staff say there is a waitlist for families interested in moving their child to the virtual learning option.
Administrators say they’ll look at adjusting their virtual capacity every nine weeks to gradually add more students.
School officials say extra cleaning and sanitization measures will be in place to mitigate COVID-19.
For more information specific to your school district, click here.