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Newport News Public Schools Superintendent to update 'Return-to-Learn' plan

Superintendent Doctor George Parker said students won't return to in-person learning, until after the holidays.

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — As some Hampton Roads school divisions send students and staff back to virtual instruction, the Newport News Public School division is making plans for its next steps for in-person learning.

NNPS Division’s Superintendent, Doctor George Parker, said he wants to lay out the return to in-person learning plans for the division during Tuesday night's school board meeting.

So far, that includes keeping students at home, at least until January 1.

“We will have a better assessment at the beginning of the year, new year, as to the safety of our students and our staff, before moving students back to school for in-person instruction,” said Doctor Parker.

However, this week marks the first week that instructional staff returned to the buildings, two days a week.

“Our staff have to acclimate themselves to the culture of this pandemic,” said Parker.

Now those teachers are speaking with us independently.

Teacher Mary Vause said she’s seen how other school divisions recently sent students and staff back home due to the spike in coronavirus cases.

“I appreciate how Newport News is at least waiting until January. That’s better than Virginia Beach, Chesapeake,” said Vause. She said, “Reopening schools is not going to make things go back to normal.”

“It’s setting them up for failure. We are going to do to them what we did last year, to all of us,” said teacher, Chris True.

True said he feels like the superintendent has listened to their requests, so far.

“We have been given the privilege that a lot of other school systems haven’t,” said True.

Yet, teacher, Chanel Hurt said she hopes the community understands, many teachers want to end virtual learning, too... just once it's safe for everyone to return.

Hurt said, “Do you think people who don’t care would be doing this?”

While there are no Return-to-Learn “action items” on the Newport News School Board agenda, the School Board already voted to give the Superintendent the authority to implement the plan as he sees fit.

The school board meeting begins at 6:30 Tuesday.