“LCPS has been engaging in an extensive planning effort to prepare for our return to school later this year,” Williams wrote. “We know these are challenging times and we are working to develop a solution that offers the best possible experience for every student.”
He encouraged parents to review the plan and offer feedback, and he noted that the school system will adjust its plans depending on the state of the pandemic and what staffers and families say. Already, there are indications that some parents disapprove: Families that would like to see more in-person instruction are planning to protest outside the school system’s administrative building Monday.
Although not yet finalized, the guidelines for the district of 84,000 — which span seven pages and are available on a new Web page dedicated to reopening — offer the first detailed insight into what public school might look like in certain sections of the state.
Students would sit in three- or four-foot circles of empty space in classrooms, according to the guidance, although the circles would be “hypothetical . . . [not] delineated by markings on the floor.” School employees would be required to don cloth face coverings if they approach within six feet of students or colleagues, according to the guidance.
Students 10 and older would probably be asked to wear cloth face coverings when six feet of separation from peers and educators is impossible. The school system is “assessing the possibility” of urging parents of students younger than 10 to ask their children to wear masks at school, too.
In addition, the school system may adopt daily health screenings for some students and employees. These would involve no-touch temperature checks for a random sample of people each day, as well as mandating that staffers check and report their own temperatures every morning before arriving at work.
Taking the bus to school would look different, too. Under the suggested rules, students would sit one per seat and in every other row, whenever possible, although siblings from the same household would be permitted to sit together. This would significantly reduce bus capacity, the guidelines note: Following this plan, a formerly 77-passenger bus could accommodate just 13 students.
To compensate for this, the school system is considering adjusting the start and end times for school and launching “double runs,” in which one bus brings two separate groups of students to and from school each day. It is also pondering allowing students to sit one per row in every row and asking riders to wear masks.
Although most students would abide by the schedule of two days of in-person learning, students with disabilities and English-language learners may attend brick-and-mortar school more often than their peers, the rules state.
The school system is hopeful it may offer 100 percent in-person education, Williams wrote.
“Daily in-person instruction for all students may be possible after Phase 3,” he wrote. “LCPS will adjust its approach at any given time based on the phase that Northern Virginia is in at the time.”
The school board is scheduled to meet Tuesday. The day before that, dozens of disgruntled parents are planning to gather outside the school system’s administrative building in Ashburn to speak out against the suggested guidelines.
Some of these parents say school should be 100 percent in person, with the option of distance learning for families who do not wish to take the risk, according to posts on Facebook. During the protest, families plan to stand with signs, six feet apart and wearing masks. As of Sunday morning, roughly 100 people indicated on Facebook they plan to attend.