Virginia Beach schools are prepared to bring back students. Here are their precautions


VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Virginia Beach City Public Schools is preparing to bring back its first wave of students next week. School officials took reporters on a tour of Red Mill Elementary on Thursday to show the changes they’ve made to protect students and staff from COVID-19.

When going back to school during the pandemic, getting there is half the battle.

How do you social distance on a school bus?

“We have enough buses to keep the ridership low and the time schedule the way it is,” explained Virginia Beach Schools Executive Director of Transporation David Pace.

Pace showed a stack of supplies for cleaning buses after every run and masks in case a student forgets one. There’s also assigned seating in case contact tracing is ever needed.

“The seats are numbered as they do in the airline industry 1A, 1B, 1C, 1D that’s the seat they’ll take and keep for the remainder of the year,” Pace said.

Once they arrive at school, students will follow the signs and symbols that keep traffic flowing in the same direction. In the classroom, they’ve cut back on table sharing and added desks.

“We also added the Plexiglas to these tables as well to just provide some added protection,” Red Mill Elementary Principal Dr. Michelle Miller said.

The cafeteria is also marked up with arrows and green dots designating where the kids will sit in the same seat every day.

“We are absolutely thrilled at the prospect of having kids with us again because as educators, that’s what we’re here for,” said Superintendent Dr. Aaron Spence.

Spence praised the staff at Red Mill and all Virginia Beach schools for their hard work getting ready to welcome back students.

The first round to come back include those whose parents have asked to return – in all, Spence said they make up about 30 percent of those enrolled in kindergarten to second grade, district-wide.

Spence assures parents the school will be as transparent as possible in reporting COVID-19 activity.

Chief Operations Officer Jack Freeman explained what happens if a child is diagnosed.

“When those calls come in, we coordinate directly with the Virginia Department of Health… [The] contact tracing investigation occurs and then notifications occur based on that contact tracing.”

Extra cleaning is scheduled to be done daily in buildings.

If all goes well, more students will start to return, which emerging evidence shows is where many learn best.

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