Educators, families weigh in on expectations for 2020-2021 school year

Posted at 10:42 PM, May 19, 2020

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - The COVID-19 pandemic is leaving families with questions about how the new school year will look like. One Hampton Roads district is laying out possible situations students could be in this fall.

“We'll be ready, one way or the other in the fall, to continue educating our students,” Virginia Beach City Public Schools (VBCPS) Superintendent Dr. Aaron Spence said.

For VBCPS, the first scenario involves schools reopening as close to what people think of as normal, without significant physical distancing or other public health mitigation strategies.

The second would consist of school buildings reopening with physical distancing and/or other public health mitigation strategies in place and would likely include a combination of some face-to-face instruction and remote learning.

The third involves schools remaining closed, with the district shifting to a remote learning plan within a nearly all-virtual environment.

Some students believe, for now, it's best to stay home.

“I think it's better if we stay as safe as possible for right now,” Bayside High School freshman Victoria Vidal said.

Others hope to be back on campus in some way.

“I want to get out of the house, and I don't want to stay at home for the rest of the school year, especially my junior year,” Tallwood High School Sophomore Celina Cortado said.

Former Hampton Roads principal Andrea Tottossy works with districts across the country on instruction and leadership.

Related: List of modified graduation plans for Hampton Roads school districts

“Folks are looking for answers right now,” Tottossy said. “They want to know what's going to happen in September, what's going to happen with summer school, and we just don't know. We're still waiting for governors to make decisions, and I know they want to make decisions based on the most clear, accurate, reliable data.”

This week, Gov. Ralph Northam announced an education work group to help figure out how to reopen schools safely across the Commonwealth.

“As soon as we can safely get our students back into the classroom, we will do that,” Northam said.

For Tottossy, she and others believe patience is key.

“We just have to take one step at a time, one day at a time and really keep kids at the forefront of every decision we make,” she said.

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