A collection of stories about how school divisions are navigating state and federal guidelines and grappling with concerns about staff safety and how anything less than a normal weekly schedule will affect the development of children and their social-emotional well-being.


 

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After 40 years in the classroom, Garland decided to retire as the division moved to start in-person classes for preschoolers through third-graders. Throughout her career, Garland mentored many new teachers, took on many of the division’s different initiatives, and her classroom became a place for other teachers and administrators to learn from her.

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Throughout the school division, more than a thousand elementary students walked in schools Wednesday morning. Their first stop was to get their temperature checked, one of several new routines students experienced as the county school division began twice a week in-person classes for preschoolers through third-graders. Most students are learning virtually during Stage Three.

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More details about exactly how staffing the schools will work remain up in the air as well as what the at-home learning days will look like, especially for middle and high school students.

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With The University of Virginia’s announcement Thursday that spring semester will begin Feb. 1, board chairwoman Jennifer McKeever said the school system has an opportunity to get students back into schools.

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In the wake of the board’s decision, teachers expressed disappointment on social media, which extended to parents who wanted more information about the specifics of Stage Three after receiving a letter from the division about the change

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During a discussion Thursday, several board members were concerned about how the division would ensure consistent and equitable practices across the schools, especially at the elementary level, as well as the lack of firm answers about virtual learning expectation from attendance to what will be required of families.

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With students in masks and desks six feet apart, Louisa County Public Schools on Thursday became the first school division in the area to bring students back into the school buildings — exactly six months after Gov. Ralph Northam ordered schools to close amid a surging pandemic.

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As of Thursday, the plan included virtual learning for all students, though the School Board will hear a more specific presentation about how the division will support students in special education, English learners and preschoolers during next week’s meeting.

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English learners, students without adequate internet access and those with disabilities who have intensive needs have the option to go to school, where they’ll work on online classes with teachers who volunteer to work in the buildings.

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