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School leaders in Virginia Beach outline back-to-school plan

Division leaders want to assure families that pandemic precautions are among their top priorities.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Thousands of students and teachers in Virginia Beach City Public Schools (VBCPS) return to classrooms in person on a full-time basis, starting September 8.

In a webinar to families Thursday night, schools administrators emphasized indoor mask-wearing and six feet of distance when possible will be key to preventing the spread of COVID-19.

"We're in the high transmission in the City of Virginia Beach. That's why we're starting off with a substantial layer of mitigations in place to begin the school year," said VBCPS Chief Operations Officer Jack Freeman. 

COVID vaccines also are encouraged for teachers and eligible students. School and health department leaders are planning more clinics.

"We continue to partner on vaccinations," said Freeman. That's as school administrators anticipate Pfizer will get approval for kids ages 5 to 11 sometime this fall.

When it comes to contact tracing, students or staff identified as close contacts to a positive case won't need to quarantine if they wore a mask properly and distanced at least three feet apart.

Close contacts who are fully vaccinated won't need to isolate either, as long as they're not showing symptoms.

If a student is quarantined, teachers will send daily assignments online.

"The teacher will provide work electronically, say through Schoology or email. The student will access, complete, and submit it daily," said VBCPS Chief Schools Officer Dr. Eugene Soltner. 

And every morning, it'll be up to parents to screen their children.

"It's extremely important students and families are vigilant about screening for illness before coming to school," said Soltner. A child showing symptoms should stay home.

School leaders in Virginia Beach recognize the stakes in this back-to-school season. The pandemic wears on and so does their safety plan. 

Freeman added "the ultimate goal is to get all of our kids back into in-person learning," and hopefully keep them there. 

And like with any rule, there are exceptions. Beach school leaders will take medical exemptions to the indoor mask requirement. The documents submitted require a doctor's signature.

TO VIEW THE FULL WEBINAR: A recording will be made available soon on this webpage

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