As several Northern Virginia school systems announce their fall plans, Alexandria City Public Schools is still working on developing how it intends to restart learning during the coronavirus pandemic.
“Whether it’s a hybrid approach or not, we’re looking at are we able to meet the CDC requirements to keep our staff and students safe,” said schools Superintendent Dr. Gregory Hutchings Jr.
Hutchings said the school system is still evaluating input from students, parents and staff along with other data it has collected.
The school system recently conducted a survey. The results indicated that 60% of parents support a hybrid plan, which mixes in-person learning time with online instruction. Other parents are not ready for their kids to return to class, with 40% calling for full-time distance learning.
Hutchings said one of the most difficult elements of developing a plan is that it needs to take into account the differing instructional needs of the city’s diverse population of students.
“When we have that perspective of everybody gets the same, we’re literally leaving a lot of people behind,” Hutchings said.
Keeping students in groups that remain together during in-person learning days is being considered for the fall.
Also, discussions on having students eat lunch in their group, in classrooms instead of cafeterias is also on the table. Consideration is also being given to taking classes outdoors.
Staggered arrival times for students are also being looked into. School transportation is also being determined, since 37% of parents said they need the school system to get their children to school.
The survey also found that 63% of staff are willing to return to schools, as long as the school can meet COVID-19 safety guidelines.
For teachers, Hutchings said, additional training for online learning also needs to be discussed, since teaching online is something most teachers didn’t cover while in school. Also, he said guidelines for what is expected of teachers during online learning days are also being determined.
Hutchings pointed out that while other school systems in Northern Virginia have announced their preliminary plan, waiting to do the same in Alexandria until all information can be reviewed will lessen the chance for plans needing to be changed.
The superintendent is expected to reveal his plan to the school board on Aug. 7.
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