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CCPS prepares for opening

Following Gov. Ralph Northam’s announcement last week about how Virginia schools will reopen in phases with restrictions to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19, Charlotte County Public Schools (CCPS) will present formal plans to the school board June 25 to get input from board members.

“We will have an electronic forum for our teachers and staff to provide input throughout the process,” CCPS Superintendent Robbie Mason said. “By the end of June, we intend to have formal plans ready for our students and parents.”

Robbie Mason

Mason said CCPS plans to host community meetings to provide information to parents and answer any questions they may have.

Gov. Northam’s reopening plan includes opening schools in a phased approach that allows schools to slowly resume in-person classes for summer school and the coming academic year.

“School reopening will be based on the Forward Virginia phases set forth by the governor,” Mason said. “We are currently in Phase 2. Phase 2 allows for students in pre-K through third grade to return to school for in-person instruction.”

Phase 3 allows for all students to return to school. Phase 2 and Phase 3 offer in-person instruction priority to students with disabilities and English language learners. Social distancing, 6-foot separation, must be in place for all classrooms and school buses in Phase 2 and Phase 3. Cafeterias and other commonly used areas must be occupied by no more than 50 people at any given time. Remote learning will be an option for students in both phases.

Beginning with Phase 2, local divisions and private schools must submit plans to the Virginia Department of Education that include policies and procedures for implementing the Virginia Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) mitigation strategies.

In every phase, pre-K-12 schools must follow CDC Guidance for Schools, including social and physical distancing, enhanced health and hygiene procedures, cleaning and disinfecting measures and other mitigation strategies. These precautions include, but are not limited to, the following:

• Daily health screenings of students and staff.

• Providing remote learning exceptions and teleworking for students and staff who are at a higher risk of severe illness.

• The use of cloth face coverings by staff when at least 6 feet of physical distancing cannot be maintained.

• Encouraging the use of face coverings for students, as developmentally appropriate, in settings where physical distancing cannot be maintained.

“Social distancing restrictions for school buses and classrooms will be very challenging for CCPS,” Mason said. “Surveys are being mailed home to parents today regarding their plans for sending their students back to school in person in the fall. It is critical that parents return these surveys ASAP so that we can get accurate data for in-person student instruction numbers.”

Mason said this data would allow CCPS to determine which schedules work best for students and exactly what school will look like in the fall.

“I realize that parents want specific information about school reopening plans in the fall, but this process will take a few weeks,” Mason said. “I ask everyone to please be patient so that we can develop the best plan possible for our students and families.”

Gov. Northam closed Virginia schools in March in an effort to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

“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,” Northam said. “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.”