Fairfax County School Board to formally vote on returning to classroom Thursday night

The Fairfax County School Board will formally vote on a measure Thursday night that would implement hybrid learning for students in all grades by March 16.

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The board decided to take steps after Virginia lawmakers passed a bill Tuesday mandating that schools make both in-person and virtual learning available to students.

The board is expected to approve the measure after a show of hands revealed they’d reached a consensus on it Tuesday night.

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The plan would begin with phasing in students in first through fourth grade on Feb. 16; followed by pre-K and kindergarten students on Feb. 23.

By March 16, students in all grades would be attending school two days a week.

Virginia schools were closed down last year during the onset of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

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In mid January, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam directed state school officials to change their approach to in person learning, saying the mindset must no longer be that it’s safer to keep schools closed.

Instead, the governor said, schools should operate under according to the mandate that schools need to be open, and that district’s must find a way to do that safely.

School officials in Fairfax County say the plan they’ve put together – which includes social distancing, sanitization, HVAC systems and masks – is sound.

In addition, educators in the county have taken steps to protect themselves.

So far, 90% of the staff said in a survey that they’ve scheduled a vaccine appointment, while 65 percent say they have already received their first vaccination.

They expect to have second doses completed by March.

State officials say that although the vaccine – which is rolling out slowly nationwide – is a significant step, it’s not necessarily a precursor to reopening.