Some Chesapeake students return to campus, district to monitor COVID-19 metrics before deciding who’s next

Chesapeake

CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — Some Chesapeake Public Schools students stepped back onto campus Monday.

It was the first day of face-to-face instruction for certain special education related students and English language learners.

More special priority groups, along with the youngest learners, will be phased-in to return to the classroom during the next few weeks.

Superintendent Dr. Jared Cotton announced at Monday’s School Board meeting that the district is going to wait and see how that plays out before phasing in more grades.

Roughly 200 CPS students are in the first phase and are back on campus by appointment.

Cotton said the first week of virtual schooling was a success. He said the first day of in-person learning appears to be off to a positive start as well. 

“I have heard that parents are really happy that students can get their physical therapy, their occupational therapy, because that’s very difficult to do virtually,” Cotton said, referring to students who receive special education-related services. 

By the end of September, pre-K through third grade students and another priority group of special education students will be back in class, five days a week. Cotton said the district is ready.

“We feel like we can make that happen with the space available in our buildings,” he said.

However, there are some teachers and parents who feel the district is moving too fast.

“There is no doubt that we educators all want our students back in class. However, the sharp turn taken by the people in this room two weeks ago has shattered our trust,” said Katelyn Ritenour, a fourth grade CPS teacher and member of the Chesapeake Education Association.

Cotton said Virginia’s eastern region metrics improved faster than initially expected.

“We’re using the same exact metrics that were presented back in July,” he said.

Cotton emphasized the blended learning model is still a possibility in the future.

As always, he said safety remains the top priority. 

“We’re using the same exact metrics that were presented back in July,” he said.

Cotton emphasized the blended learning model is still a possibility in the future.

As always, he said safety remains the top priority. 

“We’ve been working with the city to make sure we have all the materials and supplies that we need,” Cotton said. “We’re making sure we’re getting shipments daily on supplies.”

Masks will be required for all students and staff in classrooms and on buses with the exception of lunch and scheduled breaks.

The board’s next meeting is Sept. 28.


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