Just like the economy, reopening PreK-12 schools in the state will be done in phases.
Gov. Ralph Northam on Tuesday said schools will start “to slowly” resume in-person classes in the summer and fall.
The plan was developed by the Office of the Secretary of Education, Virginia Department of Health, and the Virginia Department of Education and is informed by guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Closing our schools was a necessary step to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and protect the health and safety of staff, students, and our communities,” Northam said. “Our schools have risen to the occasion and found ways to provide remote learning opportunities, keep students engaged, continue serving meals for children who otherwise would have gone hungry, and support students and families through an immensely challenging time. Resuming in-person instruction is a high priority, but we must do so in a safe, responsible, and equitable manner that minimizes the risk of exposure to the virus and meets the needs of the Virginia students who have been disproportionately impacted by lost classroom time.”
Schools will have discretion on how to operate within each phase and may choose to offer more limited in-person options than the phase permits, if local public health conditions necessitate, according to a news release from Northam’s office.
- Phase 1: special education programs and child care for working families
- Phase 2: Phase One plus preschool through third grade students, English learners, and summer camps in school buildings
- Phase 3:all students may receive in-person instruction as can be accommodated with strict social distancing measures in place, which may require alternative schedules that blend in-person and remote learning for students
- Beyond Phase 3: divisions will resume “new-normal” operations under future guidance
Local divisions and private schools must submit plans to the Virginia Department of Education that include policies and procedures for implementing Virginia Department of Health and CDC mitigation strategies. This happens before each begin Phase 2.
State Health Commissioner Dr. M. Norman Oliver has issued an Order of Public Health Emergency that requires all PreK-12 public and private schools to develop plans that demonstrate adherence to public health guidance. Public schools must also outline plans to offer new instruction to all students regardless of operational status.
Detailed information on each phase can be found in the guidance document available here.
VDOE has also developed comprehensive guidance to aid schools in planning for a return to in-person instruction and activities.
The guidance, “Recover, Redesign, Restart,” will be available at doe.virginia.gov Wednesday.
In every phase, PreK-12 schools must follow CDC Guidance for schools.
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