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Prince Edward eases students back into the classroom

The Prince Edward School Board voted unanimously Wednesday, Nov. 4, to allow students to return to in-person instruction.

The move to classrooms will happen quickly, but only certain grade levels will see any time inside the school buildings before winter break.

At Wednesday night’s board meeting, members approved the recommended Option 7 model for reopening.

Under Option 7, students in pre-K through fifth grade only will be split into A and B groups, with group A attending in-person classes Mondays and Tuesdays and group B attending in person on Thursdays and Fridays. Students sixth grade and above will continue remote virtual learning.

Option 7 will utilize Wednesday as a cleaning day in which all students work remotely. Only select high school students who will be taking SOLs will begin to attend school for testing beginning the last week of November.

Transportation will be provided for students that need it, and meals will be “grab and go” style. The daily schedule for in-person instruction will be 7:45 a.m. to 3:10 p.m.

Due to the limited number of weeks until winter break, the school is not utilizing a phase-in model. Instead, Tuesday, Nov. 10, and Thursday, Nov. 12, will be used as orientation days for A and B students, respectively, in order for children to become accustomed to in-school operations. Official classes will begin the week of Nov. 15.

Officials said Wednesday night classrooms are expected to average approximately nine students in order to allow for social distancing.

School Superintendent Dr. Barbara Johnson was not present at the Wednesday night meeting, but speaking on her behalf was Assistant Superintendent Dr. Michelle Wallace.

At last month’s meeting, Johnson presented health data to the board that suggested coronavirus spread was on the rise in the county, leading the board to vote in favor of remaining remote.

Wednesday night, Nov. 4, Wallace addressed health data concerns by stating she and Johnson had spoken with Piedmont Health District Director Dr. H. Robert Nash.

“He did state that right now Prince Edward has been going down in cases where the rest of the state is going up,” she said. “We would have to continue to monitor the health data, and if we were to see a spike then we may have to make changes.”

Families will have the option to continue remote learning if desired. A plan for the second semester of school will be presented at the December School Board meeting.