Hopewell City Public Schools will welcome students back Aug. 10, but which COVID-19 restrictions will be in place remains an open question.
The Hopewell School Board unanimously approved the new 2020-2021 academic calendar during last Thursday’s meeting, but did not discuss a plan for returning students.
“We didn’t discuss how to do it, just when,” said Linda Hyslop, vice chairwoman of the Hopewell School Board, on Monday. “Further details of what it will look like will come out later. It’s still now all in the planning stage.”
Hopewell schools formally announced the calendar change Monday morning, nearly a week after Gov. Ralph Northam laid out highly anticipated guidance on how Virginia schools will be able to reopen. Northam announced a three-phase approach, with the final phase allowing all students to return to their schools with social distancing measures in place.
Northam’s recommendations allowed individual school systems to add teeth to restrictions.
A committee made up of Hopewell school administrators and the School Board office began hammering out the details for the August start date on Monday.
Decisions should be made in the coming weeks, according to Byron Davis, supervisor of balanced calendar implementation.
The August start date is the district’s “reaction” to having to rethink its year-round schooling, or “balanced calendar,” kickoff because of coronavirus impacts, Davis said.
Last month, Hopewell schools announced a delay in its inaugural year-round school year until at least January 2021, scrapping the July 27 state date.
“[The updated calendar] is that delay,” Davis said. “We are passionate with what we are doing with the balanced calendar.”
Hopewell’s year-round schooling is designed for 45-day segments, with 15-day breaks in between. During the breaks, students can participate in intersessions to continue learning. The previously planned fall intersessions are canceled, but Davis said there are “high hopes for second semester [sessions].”
The 2021 opportunities are scheduled for March 22 through April 2 and June 14 through July 2.
Pending board approval, the 2021-2022 academic year is slated to begin July 26, 2021, with each following school year to begin at the end of July.