A look inside local private schools during the COVID-19 pandemic

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ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — With the 2020-2021 school year in full effect, private schools in southwest Virginia are adjusting to new coronavirus health and safety procedures.

After a successful response to virtual learning this past March, school leaders at North Cross School in Roanoke were excited for what the fall semester would bring.

“It kind of gave us a positive feeling as we went into the summer, and early on we realized that we’re probably going to have to be doing everything we possibly could to be able to open in person, which was the ultimate goal,” said Dr. Christian Proctor, Head of School.

An inside look at a science lab at North Cross School.

Hallways and classroom spaces were immediately transformed for all 530 students. Safety features include plexiglass at combining desks, sanitizing stations, and keeping windows open for adequate air flow.

“It’s really impacted everything that we’ve done,” Dr. Proctor said.

Similar protocols were enacted less than two hours away at James River Day School in Lynchburg. The private school has a population of 240 students.

Courtesy: James River Day School

“Classrooms – you want lots of air flow and you saw, we have the doors open as much as we can and we have lots of space outside,” said Peter York, Head of School.

As COVID-19 cases continue to rise in public schools throughout the country, private schools are reporting fewer cases.

North Cross School and James River Day School have seen one positive case involving an asymptomatic person since reopening in August. School officials say one of the biggest factors to fewer cases, are known advantages like testing regimens and smaller class sizes.

“If our class size is 12 to 14 anyway, it’s easy enough to keep those kids separated,” York said.

Despite the benefits, all schools – whether private or public – are already facing concerns about the upcoming winter months and the positive cases that may follow.

Both private schools are planning to continue to follow their health and safety procedures in preparation.

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