Norfolk School Board considers bringing students back to classrooms sooner than planned

Coronavirus

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Students whose parents want them to be back in the classroom in Norfolk could see that happen sooner than initially expected.

A majority of Norfolk’s School Board appeared to reach a consensus Wednesday night to return some students to in-person learning once city Centers for Disease Control and Prevention COVID-19 health data reaches levels considered “moderate” risk.

The current plan the board approved in October, calls for students to continue to learn remotely until the same data remains in at least lower-risk categories.

Pressure has been building across the country for students to return to in-person learning even as COVID-19 cases skyrocket. In an interview on ABC’s “This Week” recently, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, commented that when it comes to restrictions that will help curb the spread of the virus: “Close the bars and keep the schools open.”

On Wednesday Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, (D) also said that schools are not where community spread has become problematic.

“We are trying to follow in line with the best practices,” said Adale Martin, chair of the board.

Under the proposal she brought forward, students whose parents chose to have them return to in-person learning would be phased in once core CDC indicators placed the city in either a “moderate” a “lower” or “lowest risk” of transmission of COVID-19 for 14 days.

Indicators include the number of new cases per 100,000 people within the last 14 days and the percentage of positive tests over a 14-day period.

Once the metrics are in at least the “moderate” category for a consecutive two weeks, phase 1 of students re-entering would begin re-entering. Three weeks will separate each phase as long as health metrics don’t go in the wrong direction.

Another proposal being considered was brought forward by board member Lauren Campsen. It would bring back equity and opportunity students, specifically students with disabilities (K-12 students in self-contained classrooms) “as soon as possible.”

Parents could still choose to keep their students learning virtually at home through the rest of the year.

Not everyone was onboard with the idea.

“This isn’t the NBA bubble,” said board member Carlos Clanton. “It’s what happens outside the school system that really concerns me.”

The board will consider the proposal at their next meeting Dec. 16.


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