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Virginia Beach City Public Schools will bring back 15,000 students to classrooms Thursday

School board members signed off on the decision. Now they're facing mixed reactions, as they bring students back to in-person classes, while COVID-19 cases climb.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Some of Virginia Beach City Public Schools' oldest students are going back to in-person learning on Thursday.

That includes 7th, 8th, and 10th through 12th grade students whose parents chose for them to return to class when it's safe.

We heard mixed reactions.

I talked with Superintendent Doctor Aaron Spence, a Virginia Beach mother and the education association president.

The biggest sticking point is that Virginia Beach school board members are choosing to bring more students back while coronavirus cases are on the rise.

All secondary students will be going back to classrooms anyway.

That’s 15,000 additional students in the buildings and it’s triggering mixed reactions.

"So many schools around the country are back in person and that's what I want for my kids,” said parent Leanne Gracia.

Parent Allison Verbanic said she has kids in the school division.

“If you look at the safety of the community and our staff and our students and our schools, it’s time to pull back,” said Verbanic.

Verbanic's biggest concern is everyone going back to the building, with coronavirus numbers trending up.

“I’m a big numbers person and those numbers are screaming that it is not safe," she said.

Superintendent Doctor Aaron Spence said, “We have confidence and we have signals from the health community that now is a good time, it’s perfectly acceptable to bring our students back.”

He said they have had COVID-19 cases at the schools. The division's dashboard shows a total of 83 confirmed cases since the school year started.

However, Spence explained that people are not catching the virus from each other inside school buildings.

“Our mitigations are working,” said Dr. Spence.

He means mitigations like plexiglass, social distancing, and one-way hallways.

Still, the president of the Virginia Beach Education Association, Kelly Walker, said it’s not the right time to bring more students back.

“We are disappointed that the school board and the administration chose to go this route. Knowing that the numbers are increasing that we are having difficulty doing, safely mitigating our schools,” said Walker.

Dr. Spence said parents whose students want to change their return-to-school plans must contact their school principal, and could face a waitlist, because of everyone staying socially distanced.

So, if you pull your child out of in-person learning, the student might have to stay out of the building and continue with virtual learning for the remainder of the time that students are out.