When and How Are We Returning to School? The School Board is Currently Weighing Their Options


Caldwell Boyles

A Virtual School Board meeting that took pace over Zoom, October 1st

Caldwell Boyles, Sports Section Editor


Dr. Irizarry, principal at Charlottesville High School, says that “the high school should be ready to open back up within the next couple of weeks.” He also says that the biggest problem is not from the safety of the school standpoint, it is from the willingness of students and teachers to actually come back to in-person school. 

On Thursday, October 1st, the Charlottesville City School Board held a board meeting to discuss things from racial inequity to getting our kids back in schools as quickly and safely as possible. The School Board has had their meetings live-streamed on Facebook the past few weeks for everybody to see and can be found on the Charlottesville City Schools Facebook page. 

 The meeting started off with community members sharing their opinions on different issues that they found important, while the school board members listened to what the speakers had to say. The meeting then slowly rolled into more focus on when and how Charlottesville City Schools will be returning to in-person classes. Dr. Beth Baptist, who is the coordinator of Career and Technical Education, was one of the first members to present about the issues with COVID-19. She is one of the leaders of the COVID Committee, and her presentation went into depth about what the guidelines and statistics look like when it refers to Charlottesville and COVID. Her statistics and graphs provided the community with insight into what the COVID Committee looks at when it develops its strategies and plans.  (See the Zoom meeting on Facebook to look at her graphs. Timestamp: 2:09:29)

The COVID Committee is a group of over 80 members, who have multiple purposes when it comes to reopening Charlottesville’s city schools. They are the ones who receive and analyze data from the CDC, VDH, and TJHD about COVID-19. The committee members are also the ones who discuss the potential options of coming back to school in-person. They will continue to provide recommendations to the superintendent until schools are reopened full-time to students and staff. 

Dr. Baptist started her presentation off with, “We do not have a recommendation yet, but we are working together as a committee.” The COVID committee has not yet released a plan on when to return to school, but they are currently working relentlessly to do so. The next COVID committee meeting will be held on October 14th, which should include more direct plans and recommendations on when students and faculty will return.

After Dr. Baptist completed her presentation on the COVID committee, Ms. Kim Powell went through her own presentation on separate details that were related to safety within the schools. This included mitigation strategies, plans for signs/stickers to decongest hallways and stairwells, Plexi-barriers, bus seating, and many other safety/health issues. Ms. Powell also stated that she was personally going to each school to make sure every school was completing the COVID Operations Building Prep Checklist. This checklist goes step-by-step through what each school needs in order to open up safely. 

Like said previously, there is no current plan for students to return to school, but there are a few standards set now that will more than likely be used when the time comes to go back to school face-to-face. Dr. Irizarry also stated that there will very likely be two groups of students who go back to school on different days. So, it would include something like a Group A on certain days and a Group B on the day’s Group A does not. The classes will more than likely be all block days, which would limit the number of transitions between classes. So, there are definitely plans being made for when we return, but they are just not ready to be finalized yet. 

Overall, there are no current set dates for when students and faculty will return to school. The COVID Committee and Charlottesville City School Board will continue to do their best to get students back to school in-person as soon as possible.