VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — The school bell marked the end of summer in Virginia Beach as students returned to the classroom for the start of the 2021-2022 school year.
Students are returning to the classroom for in-person learning five days a week, however, families also had the option to use Virtual Virginia to take online courses.
All students and staff are required to wear masks in VBCPS buildings and while riding the school bus.
COVID-19 continues to be a concern as students return to the classroom, however, the district has several mitigation efforts in place to curb and slow the spread. School nurses and the Virginia Beach Health Department will contact parents or legal guardians if their child is exposed to the virus.
Those students who show COVID-19 symptoms while at school will be placed in an isolation room until a parent or legal guardian can pick them up.
Kisha Johnson, a mom of a rising second grader and high school senior, says she is concerned about possible exposure to the COVID variants.
“The ones that are not vaccinated, or people that do not take it seriously,” she said. “It is a serious problem, so I’m hoping that people do start taking it seriously.”
All students, including those using the virtual option, will be provided free breakfast and lunch.
More than 63,000 students attend Virginia Beach City Public Schools and many of them take the bus, according to James Lash. He serves as the executive director for the district’s transportation and fleet management services.
“The first day, children, teachers, parents, everyone is getting acclimated to the schedules. There will be some delays. We are asking people to be patient with us,” Lash said.
Lash says during the first morning back to school, service vehicles were out to make sure buses did not run into any mechanical issues. They also had a few kids get on the wrong buses.
During this time of the year, they get a lot of calls and emails including bus stop change requests, according to Lash.
“It’s very time-consuming. We’re doing the best job we can to get back to people who make emails or requests,” he added.
Like other districts, VBPS is facing a driver shortage which will cause delays. Right now, they have a little over 500 drivers but are looking to hire 100 more.
School officials are asking for parents to give them about two weeks to get settled into the routine and are asking to contact them if it’s a safety concern.