Parents, education officials react to Gov. Northam's push for in-person learning

Posted at 4:53 PM, Feb 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-05 20:07:45-05

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. – Gov. Ralph Northam asked school divisions Friday to have in-person learning options for families who want it by March 15.

The governor said school divisions should also consider summer options like summer classes or even year-round schooling.

“We know that children learn better in classrooms and that going to school is vital for their social-emotional needs and for receiving critical services like meals. It is also important for our youngest learners, students with disabilities, and those with limited access to technology who have struggled most with remote learning," Northam said.

In Virginia Beach, younger students returned to the classroom this week.

The head of the Virginia Beach Education Association tells News 3 while vaccines are helping teachers feel more comfortable, there are still come concerns.

“With the mitigation standards and the safety teams that are in place within the school division, we feel pretty confident that we're going to be able to return those students who wish to go back to school safely,” said VBEA President Kelly Walker. “That said, we are still very concerned that educators are not getting vaccinated in a timely fashion. We know there are some that are still waiting to receive their first vaccine.”

Walker added that several teachers have contacted her this week to say they have not been able to get their vaccine.

Parents across our area also want to feel confident about new plans to return to in-person learning.

For students in Hampton, it's approaching a year of remote learning for the majority of students who attend Hampton City Schools. Getting back on the school bus will seem not just different, but will be a seismic shift from what they worked hard to adjust to.

Nicole Ellis and her husband are urging the School Board to be thoughtful about the rollout.

News 3 also spoke to Chesapeake Public Schools superintendent Dr. Jared Cotton for his stance on the matter. He told us he does not anticipate that they will need to make changes based on what the governor is asking.

“From what the governor shared, he wants some level of in-person, and Chesapeake already meets that. So for us, our challenge is when can we get to a point where we can offer additional days for our middle and high school students? Because now they're only coming two days a week," Cotton said.

As for what their plan is for the summer based on the governor asking schools to provide some instruction, the superintendent said, “We've already been preparing for summer school and we offer summer school programs already, and we've looked at the possibility of extending or adding to our regular summer school schedule.”

Cotton says they do not plan to have something over the summer that everyone would be required to attend.

“At this time, we're not looking at that, and again that would go against what we believe in Chesapeake - that we look at the needs of each individual and then we provide opportunities for them based on their need."

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