Covid Update – Feb. 11, 2021

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Team Chesterfield families,

Below are several highlights from last night’s School Board meeting related to the return of middle and high school students to in-person learning opportunities:

  • The School Board approved a plan that will provide middle and high school students the opportunity to return to in-person learning opportunities on Tuesday, March 9.
  • Families uncomfortable sending children back to school in person have the option for their students to remain in a virtual learning environment with currently assigned teachers.
  • A family’s final decision about the preferred learning environment is due to their child’s school on Wednesday, Feb. 17. Schools will notify families how this information will be collected.
  • If a student selects a virtual learning environment, they must remain virtual to allow for a consistent classroom configuration for contact-tracing purposes.
  • Monday, March 8 will be a virtual asynchronous learning day for all middle and high school students (including those secondary students in Cohort No. 1), so that staff can finalize classroom preparations. (Elementary school students will continue with their normal instructional model that day.)

Chesterfield County Public Schools has taken what some might consider to be a more deliberate approach to give medical experts and public health providers time to learn more about the virus. Medical research continues to acknowledge that schools are not superspreaders as long as proper mitigation strategies and infection control measures are in place. We successfully demonstrated that these mitigation strategies worked in the fall when students first returned to in-person learning.

As we bring middle and high school students back into classrooms next month, we will continue to enforce the wearing of masks, appropriate use of staff personal protective equipment, frequent use of hand sanitizer, time for hand washing, etc. Schools will continue to work to provide 6 feet social distancing opportunities in classrooms. However, at this time, in areas of the school where 6 feet could not be accomplished, the school division will require that students wear school division-provided face shields (in addition to a face mask) as an additional exercise in precaution. No students would be closer than 3 feet.

Why require a face shield in addition to a face mask for our young adults? We reviewed previous guidance that required adult staff members to wear face shields in addition to face masks when they were inside of areas where the 6 feet desired distance was not able to be maintained. We have opted to follow that guidance for young adults in our secondary schools, given that there is no definitive guidance regarding spacing needs for older students as exists for younger students. Let’s consider the face shield an extra layer of support, much like a car rider has a seat belt and an airbag.

In the coming days, our middle and high schools will share more information about the steps they will take to continue to keep our students safe while they are in school. We look forward to continuing to create and provide safe, supportive and nurturing environments where students can learn how to create a better tomorrow. Thank you for your continued support!