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Virginia LEARNS statewide group shares reopening guidance for 2021-2022 school year

The plan prioritized student and teacher social-emotional health, and gave special attention to helping students recover mathematics and language arts skills.

NORFOLK, Va. — Author's note: the above video is on file from Feb. 19, 2021.

A group put together to share guidance for safely bringing children back to school in Virginia after the coronavirus pandemic released a plan Tuesday.

The outline, called Navigating Virginia Education in Uncertain Times, puts together recommendations for how to get students back on track while teaching equitably and keeping student and teacher wellness in mind.

The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) sent out a release, explaining the members of the Virginia LEARNS team talked to parents and educators to come up with these recommendations.

Here are some of the guidelines:

  • Virtual learning isn't the best option for all students
  • Schools should take on extra counselors, social workers and psychologists to help with the social and emotional needs of students returning to class
  • There should be several different options for how a student can seek remediation, and they should be tailored to the student's needs
  • Technology and internet access needs to be available in all communities
  • Safety protocols should be clear and strictly implemented

RELATED: Chesapeake, Newport News school leaders join 'Virginia LEARNS' to develop back-to-school guide

The plan gave special attention to helping students recover lost knowledge of mathematics and language arts.

"The recommendations emphasize the importance of equity in decision-making and prioritizing the needs of the most vulnerable students in assessing and addressing learning losses," wrote a spokesperson for VDOE. "Assessing and supporting the social and emotional health of students are emphasized in all aspects of reopening."

Anthony Swann, 2021 Virginia Teacher of the Year and a board of education and Virginia LEARNS workgroup member, said schools would have to meet basic needs before they continued on with traditional teaching duties.

“We must remember that our students are humans first and should address those needs before tackling learning loss," Swann said.

You can look through the full Virginia LEARNS guidelines online.