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Amid virus concerns, administrators face daunting task of figuring out how to open schools

The guidelines are not consistent, politics are getting in the way, and parents are waiting for answers.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — The questions and concerns are coming from all directions in the quest to get schools back open. 

The burden facing local administrators to figure out how to safely get kids in the classroom is massive. And it doesn't help when the guidelines are not consistent... but the coronavirus is.

Virginia Beach Superintendent, Dr. Aaron Spence said the task is both challenging and frustrating. 

"We do get changing guidance and we do get guidance that sometimes is at odds with other guidance," he said.

For example, the CDC is suggesting that students should remain six feet apart in classrooms, while the American Academy of Pediatrics says three feet might be fine if students have face coverings. That makes a big difference when trying to figure out how many kids can be in one classroom.

Another example, according to Spence, is there is no one-size-fits-all model for children and adults. 

"Many people say 'Well, I just want my kid back and it's safe for kids' and they're not remembering that we have 15,000 employees who are adults."

Spence hopes schools and elected leaders can better work together for what's best for students. 

"It shouldn't be a political issue. It's about educating children," he said.

Newport News Public Schools plans to release its plan for reopening schools on July 20.  School Board Chair Gary Hunter said the system is looking at a blend of options. 

"Virtual for some students," Hunter said. "We may have to have staggered days and smaller classroom sizes." 

Hunter said his phone is ringing off the hook and the emails are piling up from parents with questions. He tells them the system is moving forward as if schools will start in September.

Hunter is worried about claims from the Trump Administration that funding will be pulled if schools don't fully reopen and is thankful City Council added $2.5 million to the schools' budget. 

"We will definitely need every bit of those dollars," he said, "It's a lot of funding that will have to go to schools. We need to put more funding in education like never before."

RELATED: Virginia Department of Education releases new guidance for returning to classes this fall

RELATED: Virginia Beach parents rally to have students get back in the classroom full-time

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