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Portsmouth School Board approves plan to return elementary students to in-person learning

By a 6-3 vote, students in pre-kindergarten through sixth grade can return for in-person instruction on a hybrid schedule beginning Monday, April 12

PORTSMOUTH, Va. — Portsmouth's school board has voted on a school reopening plan. 

By a 6-3 vote, students in pre-kindergarten through sixth grade can return for in-person instruction on a hybrid schedule (two days in person, three days virtual), beginning Monday, April 12. 

Ahead of the students' return, all Portsmouth Public Schools staff will return to schools and buildings on Monday, March 29.

All middle and high school students will remain in virtual instruction for the rest of the year.

Also under the approved plan, special education and English Language Learners (EL) students in all grades would be able to return to in-person instruction on a four-day schedule.

Thursday's vote comes as new case numbers fall across Virginia, and Governor Ralph Northam calling on all school districts in the state to offer in-person options by March 15.

The school division previously said a reopening plan wouldn't be considered until positivity rates in the city remained below the 10 percent mark for at least 10 days. Right now, the city is at 11 percent, while the statewide positivity rate is at six percent.

The approved plan also includes measures for mitigation in the classroom, including social distancing, masks, and seating and highlights efforts for school buses.

The school division said its School Reopening Page will be updated with more details on the approved plan, including frequently asked questions and the hybrid schedules as they are finalized.