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Virginia Beach City Public Schools students head back to classrooms with a fresh start

VBCPS Superintendent, Dr. Aaron Spence, says he and his staff learned a lot of lessons this past year and says they are applying it to this new school year.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Thousands of Virginia Beach City Public Schools students headed back to the classroom Thursday morning. 

A majority of them were in-person; however, the school division says about 1,095 students are enrolled in Virtual Virginia, meaning just fewer than 2% of students started with online classes.

Many students say they are ready to take on another year, especially high school seniors Olivia Schinault and Parks Schmidt, who said their junior year posed a challenge.

"It was hard to adapt to online, and then in-person, and then going back, and back-and-forth," said Schinault.

"It worked out fine for me," said Schmidt, standing outside his classroom. "I know a lot of people kind of struggled without that connection with teachers."

They aren't the only ones who had to overcome challenges. The division's Superintendent, Dr. Aaron Spence, said his faculty and staff also had a big learning curve this past year.

"It was a challenging year and I think what we learned is we can overcome those challenges," said Spence. "As we head into this school year, we understand a little bit about what we're facing."

Spence said all their preparations went into creating a fresh start for the school division, but the semester is just getting started.

"This is the most important academic year any of us will ever face," he said.

He told 13News Now his staff is masking up and preparing for any potential outbreak of COVID-19 within the school system.

"We're working closely with the health departments. Should we begin to see cases in the building, we'll work with the health department to see who needs to quarantine," said Spence. "If we need to close a school or a classroom, we'll do that, but our goal would be to keep everybody else open."

Spence said after seeing his own children struggle with online learning, the last thing he wants is for his students to return to virtual classes. He said this school year will help determine how his teachers and staff handle academics in the future.

The school division said students arrived to school safely Thursday morning. They did face some delays with the bus routes due to the area-wide bus driver shortage. 

Spence said many of the parents decided to drive their children to school for their first day.