You are the owner of this article.
You have permission to edit this article.
Edit
Bedford County Public Schools makes back-to-school plans

Bedford County Public Schools makes back-to-school plans

Only $5 for 5 months

Bedford County Public Schools intends to have its youngest students in school buildings this fall while older students focus on virtual instruction.

The current plan is to have pre-K through third-grade students attend school daily for face-to-face instruction with the number of students in classes reduced to achieve physical distancing requirements.

Students in fourth through sixth grades also will receive daily, face-to-face instruction. Many of the guidelines for this age group will be the same as those for the pre-K through third-grade group, with smaller class sizes, reduced transitions around buildings and changes to meals and other procedures.

Seventh graders, eighth graders and high schoolers will receive primarily virtual instruction in the fall with each student connected to a “learning coach” throughout the school day to provide support.

Bedford County Public Schools’ Superintendent Doug Schuch discussed the plans for fall in a video posted to the division’s Facebook and YouTube accounts this past Friday.

The state closed schools in March because of the coronavirus pandemic. This June the Virginia Department of Education released reopening guidelines and required divisions to submit a plan to the Virginia Department of Education before reopening.

Schuch said around 150 people on nine task forces have been working over the past five weeks to create a return plan that addresses both the need to get students back in schools and the health and safety concerns that come with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Ultimately, we want to do what’s best for students and provide a meaningful learning experience,” Liberty High School Principal Shawn Trosper said.

While students in seventh through 12th grades will receive virtual instruction, Trosper said they will be divided into groups and assigned days when they may come to school to meet with learning coaches or receive individual or small group help from teachers.

A 100% remote learning option also will be available for those with concerns about returning to in-person learning, and the division will be discussing options for families without access to reliable internet, said Ed Hoisington, director of technology for the division.

As of July 1, Schuch said, the division received nearly 4,000 responses to a survey it conducted regarding returning to school. According to the Virginia Department of Education, Bedford County had 9,555 full-time students enrolled during the 2019-20 school year. Division spokesperson Ryan Edwards said the nearly 4,000 responses represents 64% of the division's households.

“It’s clear that most families would like us to offer in-person learning to as many students as possible,” Schuch said.

The survey responses show about 77% of parents indicated they would send their children to school in the fall, with about 4% indicating they would not send their children back and about 15% indicating they had not yet decided.

Of those who indicated they would not send their children back to school in the fall, about 75% indicated they would be interested in a 100% remote learning option.

With transportation being one of the largest barriers to getting Lynchburg-area students back to school buildings in the fall, Bedford County school officials asked parents if they could transport their students to school. Of the just over 3,000 responses to that question, nearly 17% indicated they would not be able to provide transportation for their students.

Another factor area school divisions are considering as they form reopening plans is internet access. Schuch said in the nearly 4,000 responses, about 75% of Bedford families indicated they have reliable internet access, with about 25% indicating they do not.

Mac Duis, chief operations officer for Bedford County Public Schools, said the division will implement several new procedures when schools reopen, such as increasing hand sanitizer stations throughout buildings, limiting the number of outside visitors, increasing school disinfecting measures and encouraging students to wear masks when social distancing is not possible.

According to Friday’s announcement, pre-K through sixth-grade students are set to return to school Aug. 12 as originally scheduled, while seventh through 12th-graders will return Aug. 17. Leaders said changes to the length of the school day are being discussed.

The Bedford County School Board is slated to meet Thursday at 5 p.m. and will further discuss the division’s reopening plan.

Jamey Cross covers education. Reach her at (434) 385-5532.

Jamey Cross covers education. Reach her at (434) 385-5532.

Concerned about COVID-19?

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Related to this story

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.

Topics

Breaking News

News Alert