Governor Northam and State Superintendent James Lane informed the public today that schools will have the option of reopening in phases under guidelines provided by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Virginia Department of Health (VDH). The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) has created a guidance document for reopening: Recover, Redesign, Restart 2020.

According to the guidance, in-person instruction and bus transportation will require 6-foot social distancing. Page 28 of the guidance document states: “In order to adhere to the social distancing requirements, schools will need to consider alternative and innovative schedules for their school buildings…While students and staff are in the building, schedules should be arranged to minimize contact between groups…In all scenarios, schools are expected to provide remote or virtual learning in addition to in-person instruction to ensure students are covering all necessary content, regardless of the number of hours they receive in-person instruction.”

These ideas can only be accomplished through alternative schedules that could include alternating days, split days, or alternating weeks.  While we are afforded such guidance please remember that implementation plans rely on logistical considerations that are different from school division to school division.

The Orange County Public Schools Recovery Task Force is meeting Wednesday morning to entertain the magnitude of the logistics. Also, to be considered are the mandatory cleaning protocols and daily health screenings and temperature checks of students and employees.

We are fortunate that we have been forward in our thinking in Orange County where remote learning and a robust learning management system are concerned. As you realize, opening school in a traditional sense is filled with challenges; however, this year’s opening on August 10, 2020 will surely be historical. We are OC Strong, and we will honor our students under these guidelines by continuing their instruction and keeping them safe. It will take all of us without hesitation to be our best selves every hour of every day.