VIRGINIA BEACH (WAVY) — Some of Virginia Beach’s youngest students will return to the classroom Tuesday, after weeks of improvements in the city’s COVID-19 metrics.
The district chose to start this school year virtually, citing COVID-19 concerns.
Since health metrics have improved, to below 4% positivity as of Monday, school leaders said with extra safety precautions in place students can safely return.
Preschool through second-grade students will head back to school. In all, they make up about 30% of the district.
Kids are encouraged to wear a mask and parents are asked to screen children at home before sending them to school by taking their temperature.
On the way to school, students will have assigned seats on the bus, for contact tracing. We’re told the buses will be cleaned after every run and there are extra masks in case a student forgets one.
Shirann Lewis, the Virginia Beach Senior Executive Director for Elementary Schools, warns there will be some changes to student drop off and pick up.
“If you’ve ever been to an elementary school, especially during drop off in the morning, it’s like a valet service. You have your staff out there, the cars pull up and a staff member will open the door and the kids will get out. That’s not going to happen this year. Cars will still drive up, but parents or students will have to get out of the cars themselves. They’re not going to have that special valet service because, again, we don’t want our staff touching the door handles of a car and, of course, we still have to practice that social distancing. It is going to be a longer process this year and we’re just going to ask parents to be patient with us because safety of our children is top priority,” Lewis said.
When kids get to school, there will be signs up to follow and practice social distancing. Staff added desks and plexiglass for extra protection.
The cafeteria is also marked with arrows and green dots where the kids will sit in the same seat every day. There will also be a limit to how many kids are allowed to use the restrooms at a time.
“A teacher can take her entire class to the bathroom, however they will be socially distanced and we’ll probably limit one to two children in the bathroom at a time. Then as they go in, they’re encouraged when they come out, make sure you wash your hands.”
Water bottles are welcome, to limit trips to the water fountain.
“We’re encouraging kids to fill up their water bottles and take those back to their classrooms. So, they’ll have water. However, a child may use the water fountain, but what we’re not going to have is a whole classroom lined up using the water fountain at one time.”
Superintendent Dr. Aaron Spence said staff will work to be as transparent as possible.
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