Students at Alexandria City Public Schools in Virginia will be sitting 3 feet closer to each other in classrooms after the school board reversed the superintendent’s previous decision of staying 6 feet apart.
Superintendent Gregory Hutchings sent a message to families earlier this week that students will remain 6 feet apart, despite the CDC’s advice to reduce the space to 3 feet.
Hutchings’ decision was made without input from the Alexandria City School Board.
In Thursday night’s school board meeting, School Board Vice Chair Veronica Nolan said she learned about the decision by reading about it.
“We have to be overly transparent with this information and make sure they are public conversations and discussions,” Nolan said.
School board member Ramee Gentry said there was a real disconnect and breakdown in communication. “In my five years on the school board, this is probably the most frustrated I have ever been,” she added.
Parents expressed disappointment with maintaining the 6 feet distance as well.
Erika Melman, parent of a second grade student, said when she read the announcement, she was furious because of how much her child has struggled with virtual learning.
Melman said the right move is to reduce the distance to 3 feet for more space to accommodate students back in the classroom.
Hutchings did not directly address the controversy, but he did speak shortly before the school board voted to repeal his decision.
“We are committed to bringing back as many students as we can, 3 feet is going to allow us to do that,” he said.
The school system will adopt 3 feet inside classrooms this academic year.
The school board also voted on new names for Maury Elementary and T.C. Williams High School.