As the entire country continues to grapple with the question of how to best educate students in the midst of a continuing global pandemic, the Goochland County School Board has unanimously approved a plan to bring students back into the classroom.
But while the plan adopted during the board’s monthly meeting on July 7 offers a path forward — bringing those students who opt not to continue with online learning back to school for two days per week — the classroom experience for all students will still look very different than it did prior to the day all county schools were shuttered as a precaution to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
For those families who choose the in-person learning model, students in preschool, kindergarten, and high school will attend in-person learning two days per week, with roughly half attending on Mondays and Tuesday and the other half attending Thursdays and Fridays. Students in grades 1 through 8 will attend in-person learning 4 days per week, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. Wednesday will be reserved for deep cleaning, staff planning, and individual work with students remotely and potentially in-person at a later date.
“There is no perfect plan,” admitted Goochland County School Superintendent Dr. Jeremy Raley, explaining that Goochland’s path forward is one based on input from local health officials, school staff and members of the community.
“Ultimately this is the best plan at this point in time to meet the unique needs of this community,” Raley said, adding that he was proud of the work that went into crafting the new guidelines. “We’re here to listen to your concerns, and we are here to work together, because ultimately we want to provide the best experience for our students.”
According to Raley, the new plan is flexible and allows adjustment should conditions associated with the current pandemic improve or deteriorate. This plan prioritizes the safety of students and staff, while at the same time providing opportunities for half of the student body to receive face to face instruction four days a week.
Key features of the plan include:
Required health screenings for students and staff,
An emphasis on maintaining a physical distance of six feet among individuals within school facilities,
Required face coverings, for all students and staff, as is medically and developmentally appropriate, to protect all occupants on the bus and in the building,
Additional protections and mitigation measures for staff and children at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
The plan for reopening schools for in-person instruction is tied directly to the division’s health plan, Raley said.
As noted in the plan, students who ride school buses will be required to wear a face covering and will be seated one to a seat.
To further accommodate transportation needs, school hours for 2020-2021 will be adjusted as follows:
All Elementary Schools: 8:35 a.m. to 3:25 p.m.
Goochland Middle and High Schools: 8:15 a.m. to 3:10 p.m.
Families are asked to contact their child’s principal or central office staff at 804-556-5630 with any questions or concerns and to again provide their feedback about their preferences for their children and their experience using this survey .