LYNCHBURG, Va. (WFXR) — Johnathan Willis is a father of three Lynchburg City School students. He works the second shift as a counselor at a Lynchburg hospital.
“Homeschooling all day, and then you work all night, get up, and you do it again. Nonstop.”
Willis says it’s been a hard year, but spending more time with his kids has had its up sides.
“It’s been really cool teaching my first grader, kindergartener last year, how to read.”
When he found out his youngest would soon be back in school four days a week…
“I’m pretty happy about it,” he said, laughing. “I’m not going to lie, I’m pretty happy about it!”
“It’s just really good for them to socialize and to learn, but also learn from each other,” he said. “I think that’s really important, and I think a lot of kids are missing that right now, that interaction with others.”
Lynchburg City Schools is preparing to bring their youngest learners back into the classroom four days a week. You can read the full plan released by the school division on Wednesday, March 3 here:
- Pre-K through second graders, as well as special education students and English language learners, will go up from two days a week to four days a week on April 13, with Mondays set aside as remote learning days. Parents do have the option of continuing with an all-virtual option if they wish.
- Third through fifth graders in the hybrid learning program will stay in their cohorts where they attend in-person classes two days a week for the time being. However, school officials are planning to bring hybrid students in grades three through five back to the classroom four days a week later in the fourth quarter, but that date is undetermined at this time.
- Sixth through 12th graders will continue with the hybrid and remote learning schedules currently in place.
Deputy Superintendent Amy Pugh says more students in schools at the same time means having to loosen up the six feet of distancing measures.
“We will have to consider three feet of social distancing as acceptable in order to get more students in for four days of in-person learning.”
She referenced the Virginia chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics in making that determination.
“It’s not the first time we’ve seen sort of a shift in their target or the data that they were using to make decisions,” said Karl Loos, President of the Lynchburg Education Association.
Loos isn’t convinced that three feet is safe enough.
“We just have not seen that number from the CDC. We have not seen it from VDH and the Governor’s office and things like that, so I’m a little skeptical.”
But he says if they can keep everyone safe and help the most vulnerable learners, it’s a step in the right direction.
The district is planning for all grade levels to be in school five days a week in the fall.
In a press conference on Wednesday, Pugh said 70 percent of LCS staff members expressed interest in getting the vaccine. Of them, 61 percent have received at least the first dose. She said about 280 staff members so far have received the second dose of the vaccine.
She also said that 99 percent of elementary school staffers who said they want the vaccine have received at least the first dose. She said elementary school staffers were one of the first subsets of LCS employees who were prioritized to receive the vaccine, after bus drivers and nursing staff.
WFXR News reached out to Lynchburg City School parents ahead of the press conference. We asked a question to Superintendent Dr. Crystal Edwards on behalf of a mom: