Norfolk School Board approves updated 'Return to Learn' plan, sets date for bringing students back to campus

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Posted at 10:20 PM, Feb 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-18 21:37:59-05

NORFOLK, Va. - Norfolk Public Schools will soon be moving into the next phase of its "Return to Learn" plan as school board members have agreed on a date to bring students back to the classroom.

Wednesday, the Norfolk School Board unanimously voted to approve an updated plan for a return to in-person learning amid the pandemic.

“Opening a school district after a year of distance learning is a monumental step. We have learned so much about implementing innovative methods for sustaining a successful educational environment during a pandemic. Dr. Byrdsong and her executive leadership team continue to diligently monitor community health metrics to make informed decisions with the best interest of students and staff in mind and I am pleased that we unanimously voted to approve the administration’s updated plan for a safe return to in-person instruction and operations,” said School Board Chair Dr. Adale Martin.

Students, teachers and staff will begin safely returning to their respective buildings according to the following schedule, which Norfolk Public Schools released Thursday night:

  • Phase One: March 1 - All teachers and staff return to work locations.
  • Phase Two: March 15 – Students with Disabilities (Self Contained), English Learners and Pre-K-5 students begin hybrid model. Grades 6-12 remain fully online with the current schedule, except for those students previously listed.
  • Phase Three: April 12 - All middle school students begin hybrid schedule. Grades 9-12 remain fully online, except for students in the March 15 th phase.
  • Phase Four: April 26 - All high school students begin hybrid schedule.

“I commend our students, families, teachers, staff, and administrators for all of their hard work, flexibility, and support throughout these challenging circumstances. Education has always been a collaborative effort, and our strong partnership with our families and other NPS stakeholders has certainly sustained us,” said Superintendent Dr. Sharon Byrdsong. “As we prepare to implement plans for our return to in-person instruction and operations, our administration remains committed to adhering to the guidance received from the Virginia Department of Education and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and collaborating with our public health colleagues to ensure that key health mitigation strategies are implemented in an effort to safeguard our learning and work environments.”

There will be a two-week transition between the phases. Students will continue to learn remotely until their assigned phases begin.

Students assigned to phases two through four will attend school using a hybrid model, in which they will attend in-person two days a week and receive virtual instruction two days a week.

Webcams have been added to every classroom to support this live instruction for all students, whether they are in person or virtual. Students with disabilities assigned to self-contained settings will have four days a week of in-person learning and all students will continue with asynchronous lessons on Wednesdays from home.

Parents/guardians do have the option to keep their students in the current virtual learning format for the remainder of the year through the Virtual Scholars Academy (VSA).

“The Virtual Scholars Academy will continue to provide the same robust curriculum as in-person learning through the remainder of the school year,” said Dr. James Pohl, Chief Academic Officer. “In addition to the concurrent and hybrid learning model that is in place for the remainder of this school year, plans are also underway to extend existing skills programs and provide new, creative learning opportunities for all students this summer to address any learning loss and enrich students’ learning experiences beyond the core content.”

The administration of Norfolk Public Schools will continue to monitor the health metrics to ensure a safe, healthy learning and work environment for all students and staff.

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