NEWPORT NEWS, Va. - Newport News School Board officials voted Tuesday night on the district's “Return 2 Learn” plan.
The board voted 5-2 in favor of the hybrid learning plan, which will include a phase-in approach, bringing students back by program and grade level.
The first phase would include special needs and English learner newcomer students on October 19.
School board members weighed in with their thoughts of the plan before Tuesday night’s vote. In early August, they voted to begin the first nine weeks of the school year with virtual learning amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
“The young ones are dying to get back into school, to get that camaraderie, to see their friends, even if they can't do nothing but an air hug,” one school board member said Tuesday night.
“It's hard at home trying to educate your children, play teachers and find daycare. But, I'd rather bring a child up to par alive than bring a child up to par who's deceased,” another school board member said.
The district would also create a virtual learning academy as an option for students and families who don't feel comfortable returning.
NNPS teachers like Barbara Lynch showed up to the meeting asking for safety protocols, including nine more weeks of virtual learning.
“I'm looking out, not just for the safety of me, but for the safety of my children,” Lynch said. “If we bring children back, we're now exposing our staff to that possibility and them getting sick and is that really what we want to do?”
NNPS teacher Chris True also believes virtual learning is safer at this time.
“I would rather be in a classroom, but I would rather be in a classroom when it's safe. When I don't have to worry about the risk to my family. When I don't have to worry about the risk to my students' families,” True said.
True told News 3, either way, he's committed to teaching his students.
“I'm still going to let my voice be heard, but if I have to go back to school, I have to go back to school,” True said.
The district has also created an intent form for families to complete as to whether they want in-person instruction, will need bus transportation and other information.
The deadline to complete the form is Friday, October 16.
Click here to see the full "Return 2 Learn" plan.