August 27, 2020 Update

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Included in today’s email update:

  • The Public Health Committee’s latest recommendation: Remain in a virtual learning environment and monitor data to see if Chesterfield is ahead or behind the curve.
  • Next steps for a possible return of students to in-person learning: School Board work session on Sept. 14
  • Cohorts for student re-entry updated to bring in middle and high school students at the same time.
  • Potential timeframe for re-entry of students in Cohorts 1-4.
  • Other information the school division will be sharing prior to the virtual opening on Sept. 8.


Team Chesterfield families and staff members,

The Public Health Committee charged with identifying and monitoring key public health metrics for an eventual return to in-person instruction recommended Tuesday that Chesterfield County Public Schools delay consideration of the potential re-entry of students for two weeks. Committee members wanted more time to review public health-related data to determine if a regional uptick in hospitalizations was symptomatic of a larger issue that Chesterfield County will face in the coming weeks, and to learn more about a Virginia Department of Health (VDH) database that has Chesterfield County listed as being in substantial community transmission (labeled as the red category).

The School Board will receive another update from the committee on Monday, Sept. 14. If local and regional public health data continue to remain stable or trend downward, if there is progress in the VDH’s hiring of contact tracers for our community, and if there is a reduction in the wait time for COVID testing, the School Board could consider returning Cohort 1 students to school on Sept. 29.

The committee reported a decrease in the average number of daily cases in Chesterfield County and a reduction in the percent positivity of tests administered in the Chesterfield Health District from Aug. 13-25. (Both metrics are now in the yellow category of a green-yellow-orange-red measuring system used by the committee.)

The average number of COVID-related daily hospitalizations from Aug. 9 to Aug. 23 dropped in Chesterfield County as well. That metric, however, increased by 25-plus daily throughout the Virginia Department of Health’s Central Region, of which Chesterfield County is a member. The regional spike, a review of data under consideration for publication on an upcoming VDH website that shows Chesterfield County as in substantial community transmission (red category), and a projected increase in cases around the Labor Day holiday gave the committee pause. The committee also expressed concern that contact tracing and access to quick COVID tests results were not immediately available in Chesterfield.

As a result, the committee will reconvene on Sept. 14 to review another two weeks’ worth of data.

At its Sept. 14 work session, if the data continues to remain stable or trends downward and there is positive movement in terms of contact tracing and testing, the School Board could move forward with reintroducing Cohort 1 students back into schools for in-person instruction.

The School Board will continue to receive updates every two weeks, with the intent of continuing to bring back additional cohorts of students every two weeks.

Cohorts for re-entry

Students have been grouped in cohorts for an eventual return to face-to-face instruction.

  • Cohort 1: Select Special Education Level 2 students as determined by IEPs (Grades K-12)
  • Cohort 2: All students in Cohort 1 and all students in PreK to second grade; Career and Technical Center students
  • Cohort 3: All students in Cohorts 1 and 2 and all students in Grades 3-5
  • Cohort 4: All students in Cohorts 1, 2, and 3 and students in Grades 6-12 (this combines the previous 4 and 4a cohorts discussed at the Aug. 11 School Board retreat)

Cohort 1 students would attend school four days a week (Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays).  Wednesday would be a virtual learning day. All services will be provided in the self-contained (special education setting) as determined to be appropriate by the IEP team and with parental consent.

As Cohorts 2-4 are reintroduced, they will attend two days a week and learn asynchronously three days a week. Group 1 (last names A-K) would come to school on Mondays and Tuesdays, and Group 2 (last names L-Z) would attend Thursdays and Fridays. Wednesdays would be a cleaning day with virtual learning for all. (Level 2 Special education students would continue to attend four days a week as Cohorts 2-4 are reintroduced.)

Potential timeline for student re-entry

If data improves, the next decision point is Sept. 14.  The earliest possible return dates would be:

  • Cohort 1: Returns to in-person instruction (4 days) on Sept. 29
  • Cohort 2: Returns to hybrid in-person instruction (2 days) on Oct. 12
  • Cohort 3: Returns to hybrid in-person instruction (2 days) on Oct. 26
  • Cohort 4: Returns to hybrid in-person instruction  (2 days) on Nov. 9

Other information coming your way prior to the return to virtual learning

During the next two weeks, the school division will share information about what the return to school (virtual and in-person) will look like. This will include information from the school and division levels.

Division-level information will include: access to a weekly call center, assistance with Chromebooks, tutorials on our student learning management system (Canvas), a new Parent Hub with tons of useful information for families, information about the federal free lunch program, school supplies, bus routes, etc.

School-level information will include: a welcome from the school principal, direct communication from a teacher to make sure the student knows how to engage on Sept. 8, a review of the grade level and classroom’s schedule, expectations for virtual learning, etc.

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