Staff shortage forces Hampton to return smaller group of students to in-person learning next week

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HAMPTON, Va. (WAVY) — A shortage of staff at Hampton City Schools has forced the division to backtrack on a plan to return a slew of students to in-person learning next week,

While some students will still start learning in-person starting Wednesday, Nov. 4, it will be a smaller number.

Next Wednesday, only students in pre-K and kindergarten will come back, as well as some select students with disabilities in grades pre-K to 12 that learn in a self-contained setting, the division announced Friday.

That contrasts with the division’s original plan to send back pre-K through third-grade students, sixth-grade students, and pre-K through 12th-grade students with disabilities and selected English language learners as part of “Stage 1” of the Phase 2 return plan.

The division said the “sudden change” happened because of a “significant increase of approved job accommodations based on medical documentation from our instructional staff in the last 24 hours.”

That increase means there isn’t enough instructional staff to meet the needs for the number of students that would return to in-person learning in grades one through three, grade six, and the English Language Learners.

On Wednesday, Hampton teachers and staff and members of the Hampton Education Association showed up in force outside the Hampton City Schools administration building to voice concerns about the plan to return students and staff to the classroom.

Teachers and staff told 10 On Your Side they want to be back in the classroom but they also feel the district is rushing its “Return to Learn” plan.

Students in grades one through eight will continue learning virtually via Zoom, as they have been for the first quarter.

Dates for students in the other grades will be determined at a later date.

The division wrote in a message to families: “We know this is a disruption to our families, as many have made plans for their children to return to our school buildings next week. We sincerely apologize for the change at this time.”

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