Alexandria, VA

Alexandria City Public Schools are planning on slowly reopening their doors to students and teachers next month.

On Thursday, Superintendent Gregory Hutchings, Jr. formally unveiled his phased approach to reopening the city’s public school system. Desks will be outfitted with sneeze guards and students and teachers will have to wear face masks and maintain distancing.

“Everything that we present today, there could be changes a month from now, two months from now,” Hutchings told the Board. “Not just here in Alexandria City Public Schools, but within the City of Alexandria, within the region, and also across the nation. We just have to be prepared to be able to pivot when needed, and to be flexible throughout this process.”

The pandemic forced Alexandria City Public Schools to send students home in March. Under the proposal the school system would open its doors to the city’s most vulnerable students starting in November. There are more than 400 students needing specialized instruction that would be phased into the school Between Nov. 5 and Nov. 30.

“There is a lot that will go into this and it’s not going to be easy,” said Board Member Meagan Alderton.

Per the draft plan, students with disabilities would go to Jefferson-Houston PreK-8 International Baccalaureate School, starting with kindergarten to second grade students on November 5. Third-fifth grade students would then be phased into the school in January.

Staffing remains an issue. A recent survey found that 56% of staff would be very or somewhat likely to go back to school in the event of facilities reopening with COVID restrictions.

Hutchings will also ask the Board to support the development of a virtual school learning option for PreK-12 families “choosing not to return to in-person learning for the foreseeable future.”

Starting in January, ACPS would also develop “Teaching and Learning Centers” for students in kindergarten through fifth grade at middle schools in the West and East Ends of the city.

The School Board is scheduled to vote on the proposal on Wednesday, October 21.

Photo via ACPS/Facebook

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