About 7,000 students return to schools Dec. 1; Parents face new choice

Loudoun County, Virginia, Public Schools will welcome back students in three grades, two days a week, at the elementary level as well as senior academy students in December.

Families will be asked whether they want students to do hybrid in-person learning for the second semester, which begins Jan. 21.

The moves were approved by the county’s school board Tuesday night.

School Board Vice Chair Atoosa Reaser said the board voted to start the third stage of its hybrid model on Dec. 1 for grades 3 through 5. Approximately 200 seniors attending the Academy of Engineering and Technology and 60 at the Academy of Science will also make their returns on that date.

The 7,000 students who will return on Dec. 1 chose in-person instruction over the summer before the school system’s last-minute decision to begin the school year 100% virtually.

In all of its return to school options, students can continue with 100% distance learning

Students in middle and high school can return to Loudoun school buildings when the second semester begins, on Jan. 21.

Under the plan, students who choose hybrid learning would be school buildings two days per week. On the other two days, they would participate through a livestream. Monday would remain a preparation and catch-up day.

In elementary school, students who choose hybrid learning would do asynchronous work on the days they are not in the building.

Until Nov. 20, parents of all students in Loudoun County will be asked to provide their preference for in-person hybrid or 100% distance learning the second semester.

If an overwhelming number of families choose to have students return to school buildings, the school system is drawing up classroom configuration options that include reducing the amount of distance between students desks. Another option would be limiting in-person learning to one day per week.

School officials said simulation and pilot classrooms are being held, to develop best practices for so-called “concurrent learning,” which involves simultaneously teaching students in the classroom and at home.

Additional cameras and microphones have been purchased, and are being installed, to better facilitate the concurrent model for students and teachers.

WTOP’s Neal Augenstein contributed to this report.

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