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Chesapeake Public Schools outlines plan to bring high school teachers back to school buildings

Teachers at the high school level who teach option 1 and option 2 students concurrently from home will be required to return to campus to provide in-person teaching.

CHESAPEAKE, Va. — This week some 4th, 5th, and 6th-grade students returned to in-person learning in Chesapeake Public Schools. 7th graders will go back on October 26, and now we’re learning more about the demands the division has for high school teachers in November.

Sheli Porter is the Director of Secondary Teaching and Learning for Chesapeake Public Schools. She said they’re dealing with the ever-changing needs of a lot of different people during this pandemic.

That includes students who chose to gradually return to in-person learning and teachers who opted to instruct virtually for the full semester... and the numbers don't match up.

“You can’t double your staff because of these circumstances,” said Porter. 

She said with the increasing number of teachers with medical exemptions, out on quarantine or sick, division leaders realized it's necessary for all high school teachers -- except for those with medical exemptions -- to return to campus.

Porter said, “OK, we know that these folks cannot come in because of their medical situation. We have others that hoped that they could stay home, but we have kids that need them in school.”

Division officials said that "scheduling complexities at the high school level prevented us from offering courses that are composed of option 2 students alone. In most cases, courses have a mix of option 1 and option 2 students (dual-rostered)."

Norine Lee said she is one of the teachers who originally choose to teach virtually for the full semester before the school year started. Then, last week, she got an email saying otherwise. 

“They said, 'I’m sorry, this is unexpected, I’m sure you’re sad and upset, but you’ll be returning back to the building,'” said Lee.

Lee said she’s going through several steps to get an exemption.

"Frustrated, nervous, scared. I’m scared I’m going to go into the building, and I will be exposed to it and come back home, and I could it could lead to my father’s death," said Lee.

Her dad is 80-years-old.

School leaders said they need staff to supervise the students returning to campus and "in most cases, teachers at the elementary and middle school levels who teach option 2 students from home will not need to make a change for this semester."

For a link to the division's return to school plan, click here.