Transitioning Elementary School Students to Face-to-Face Learning Four Days a Week

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Published On: March 19th, 2021

With layered health and safety mitigation strategies in place, schools are ready for the next step in the phased transition to full-time in-person learning for students. Beginning Monday, April 19, elementary school students will attend school in-person four days a week (M-Th). Middle and high school students will remain on the hybrid schedule with live, real-time instruction using classroom technology (M-Th). Fridays will continue to be a remote learning day for all grade levels. The schedule change follows a WJCC Schools Health Advisory Group presentation on updated CDC, health department, and VDOE guidance and social distancing recommendations. Watch the presentation and read about what the adjustments mean for your children.

Beginning Monday, April 19, elementary school students will attend school in-person four days a week (M-Th). Student desks equipped with barrier shields will be arranged in “learning pods” in classrooms with high enrollment as needed. An arrangement similar to the one shown below will provide 3’-6′ of social distancing between pods.

Classroom Learning Pod Diagram showing how groups of children remain 3 feet apart

Middle and high school students will remain on the hybrid schedule with live, real-time instruction using classroom technology (M-Th). Fridays will continue to be a remote learning day for all grade levels.

Why is the change happening now?

Over the last several weeks, schools have successfully phased in students at all grade levels and started to expand operations to open (at reduced capacity) some common areas of buildings. Additionally, recent research from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) shows that when multiple mitigation strategies are in use, social distancing may be reduced to 3 feet without significantly increasing illness risk.

Swiss cheese diagram showing multiple levels of protection

What does this mean for elementary school students?

  • All K-5 students (blue and green group) will attend school in person M-Th. Remote learning will continue on Fridays. Students will be grouped in learning pods within each classroom to limit close contacts.
  • Bright Beginnings will continue to follow their current schedule.
  • Social distancing will range from 3-6 feet based on the number of students enrolled in the class. In large classes, student desks with barrier shields may be grouped in small learning pods as shown above.
  • Everyone must wear a face covering on the bus and at school unless they are eating a meal.
  • Classrooms will use air purifiers or enhanced HVAC filters, and desks will be cleaned throughout the day.
  • Frequent handwashing will be encouraged with time built into the school day.
  • Classrooms and common areas will be disinfected daily.
  • Students will continue eating meals in their classrooms and schools will begin exploring opportunities for eating in the cafeteria while following social distancing guidelines.
  • Centers teachers will provide live instruction for students and continue posting asynchronous work for all virtual academy students.

Why Are Middle and High Schools Staying on the Hybrid Schedule?

  • Using classroom panoramic cameras, middle and high school students are already receiving live, teacher-led instruction Monday-Thursday on the hybrid schedule. That technology is not widely available at elementary schools and does not ideally support flexible, small group instruction for reading and math.
  • Social distancing of at least 3′ cannot be maintained if all 6-12 grade students return to the building simultaneously.
  • Maintaining the hybrid schedule allows schools to host academic boot camps, tutoring, and small group support programs for students at risk of failing.
  • While students are learning remotely on Fridays, SOL testing, AP paper testing, remediation activities, and other academic support meetings will take place in buildings.
  • As a reminder, everyone must wear a face covering on the bus and at school unless they are eating a meal.
  • Classrooms will use air purifiers or enhanced HVAC filters, and desks will be cleaned throughout the day.
  • Frequent handwashing will be encouraged.
  • Classrooms and common areas will continue to be disinfected daily.

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