Hanover County School Board approves Return to Learn plan for 2021-22

Hanover County
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HANOVER COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — The Hanover County School Board approved the Return to Learn Plan for the 2021-22 school year at its Tuesday meeting.

Students will be automatically enrolled in face-to-face learning, but virtual instruction options will still be available.

“Our in-person learning will be a reset to pre-pandemic, for the most part,” Hanover County Public Schools Assistant Superintendent for Instructional Leadership Jennifer Greif said. “But there are lessons learned through the pandemic and through the different teaching models we have used. So it will be new and improved, as well as a reset, as we head into the new year.”

For example, Greif said Tuesday that secondary elective options may be limited, due to staffing and scheduling constraints. While she explained that this is not unique to the 2021-22 academic year, Greif said that the school division is looking to provide electives in a synchronous format using Chromebooks through a pilot program. This could be implemented for certain electives where enrollment in a single building is down, but there are enough students expressing interest in the course throughout the school division.

“Some of the logistics will still be developed through the summer and in accordance with state guidance,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Michael Gill said.

Greif and Gill also assured the School Board and members of the public that the school division will not be doing away with advanced coursework in mathematics or other subject matters.

“We never eliminated the acceleration option, but we did have to change the model during the pandemic,” Greif said. “We are looking to go back to the models that existed before the pandemic for providing for that acceleration in math, both at the fourth grade and at the fifth grade [level].”

The Hanover County Online School will still be an option for students during the 2021-22 school year. However, families who opt-in for virtual instruction will be bound to that decision through the first semester.

“We do still want to emphasize that adult support at home, especially for our younger learners, is very important for the success of the student in this learning environment,” Greif said.

According to Tuesday’s presentation of the Return to Learn Plan before the School Board, a parent opt-in form for remote instruction will be available through June 18. Such instruction will mirror the schedules of students engaged in face-to-face learning as closely as possible.

“We will continue to monitor all of the health mitigation strategies that come out of state executive orders or CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] recommendations or our continued collaboration with the Virginia Health Department in order to provide for the best and safest learning environments that we can in the fall,” Greif said.

When it comes to food service during the 2021-22 academic year, that means exploring outdoor options.

Greif said that the school division is also working with its transportation office to create the most efficient routes possible for students and drivers.

“Vacancies are part of our concern right now. We continue to look at our routes and efficiency of those routes. Parents will be given the opportunity to opt-in to transportation,” Greif said. “We’re asking for this information simply to create efficient routes, not to send the message that transportation may be limited.”

Mask mandates for the 2021-22 school year were not discussed at Tuesday’s meeting. however, the Virginia Department of Education released guidance explaining that Governor Ralph Northam’s Executive Order 79, which went into effect on May 28, requires that “all students, teachers, staff and visitors must wear a mask over their nose and mouth while on school property.” The executive order maintain existing exemptions for mask usage, including eating and drinking, exercising, playing an instrument an for those for whom it is unsafe medically.

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