Parents left confused about changes to Chesterfield Schools plan

Chesterfield County

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — After hearing concerns from parents, Chesterfield County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Merv Daugherty said the School Board asked his leadership team to make some changes to the plan that will begin phasing students back into the classroom.

In a communication sent to families Tuesday, the school district included several documents outlining the learning plan.

“I think that there’s a lot of confusion. The documents that were provided last night were very lengthy,” said Christen Crews, the parent of a CCPS student.

The first group of students, called Cohort 1, made up of a select group of special education students, will return in-person four days a week on Sept. 29. After that, other students will begin phasing in, starting with younger children first.

The learning plan sent out Tuesday separates elementary students, and middle and high school students.

According to the plan for elementary students, one option families can choose is a hybrid model, where children learn in the classroom two days per week depending on the student’s last name, and at home three days per week.

A new change to this hybrid model is that on the days students are learning from home, they will now meet with their class virtually for a morning meeting and at another time during day, as determined by their teacher.

Elementary students can also choose to remain fully online with a virtual teacher, similar to how they have been learning so far this school year. Crews said this is likely the choice she will choose for her third grader, Henry.

“If I had to make a decision today, I would say we would be doing virtual,” she said.

However, according to the documents sent out by the school district, the student’s teacher could change as some teachers will be transitioning to the in-person setting. Crews told 8News that had her 8-year-old in tears. “He was very upset about it because he has grown to know his teacher, they have conquered the first few weeks of the virtual environment together,” said Crews.

Middle and high school students have slightly different options, according to the plan. They can choose from a similar hybrid model, where they will learn in a classroom for two days per week depending on the student’s last name, and at home three days per week.

Similar to elementary students, a new change for this hybrid model is that middle and high school students will log on at the beginning of each class period for a virtual check-in with their teacher. Teachers will then decide how much time the students who are learning at home that day will connect virtually to the in-person class.

If middle and high schoolers want to remain completely virtual, they have two choices. The students will either commit to self-directed learning using the program CCPSOnline, or the student will complete assignments from their teachers at home, with the option to return in person when they are comfortable.

“You’re having to choose between your child’s education and the health of your child and your family,” Crews said.

Another big change to the plan is that third grade students will now be in the second group of students returning to the classroom, called Cohort 2, rather than in Cohort 3. This means third graders, like Henry, will be returning in-person earlier.

In addition, all schools will return to their normal operating times when Cohort 2 is phased back in.

Parents are asked to decide on an option for their child by Oct. 1. Whichever option families choose is binding through the second nine weeks of the school year, which ends Jan. 29.

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