Hopewell schools to delay year-round schedule until 2021

The Tri-Cities

HOPEWELL, Va. (WRIC) — Hopewell schools will delay plans to adopt a year-round schedule until January 2021 due to changes brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

The decision was made by the city’s school board after leaders from the school district recommended the delay Thursday night. The board voted last May to make way for the balanced calendar plan.

“After several difficult weeks trying to make sense of our current situation while navigating the Covid-19 CORONAVIRUS,” Hopewell City Public Schools Superintendent Melody Hackney wrote in a message to families, “our leadership team made the recommendation to our School Board last night to delay the implementation of our balanced instructional calendar until we complete first semester of next school year.”

READ MORE: Hopewell schools may start up again in July — and that’s stressing parents out

Last week, 8News spoke with parents who felt uneasy about the transition amid concerns over the virus.

“I am grateful for the board’s understanding and support of this decision,” Hackney continued.

Hackney’s full letter to parents can be read below:

Dear Families and Friends of Hopewell City Public Schools:

After several difficult weeks trying to make sense of our current situation while navigating the Covid-19 CORONAVIRUS, our leadership team made the recommendation to our School Board last night to delay the implementation of our balanced instructional calendar until we complete first semester of next school year.  I am grateful for the board’s understanding and support of this decision.

While there are still so many unknowns as we seek to make good solid decisions around “schooling” as we all know it, we are hopeful that by the end of the calendar year, we will have a better grasp on whether or not we will be allowed to return to school in the traditional sense in our school buildings and classrooms.  WE WILL ALWAYS PUT THE SAFETY OF OUR STUDENTS AND STAFF FIRST.  It was never our intention to return to school buildings earlier than it was determined safe by the experts at the Virginia Department of Health, the Center for Disease Control, the Governor’s Office and the Virginia Department of Education.  Our initial thinking was that we would most likely be still delivering instruction virtually, and therefore, the actual earlier proposed start date would not in any way put anyone at risk.  Students would still be at home, but able to get a jumpstart on the new year and the next grade’s content.  After much thought and analysis, we believe that for the balanced calendar to be implemented fully as designed and with integrity, we must delay this transition until we are cleared to actually go back to school buildings in some way.  We are awaiting more guidance in the next few weeks to further guide our planning efforts moving forward.  As always, we will keep you fully informed every step of the way. 

We will be meeting as early as Monday afternoon to begin revisions to our published 20-21 instructional calendar.  We will post as soon as possible, our first draft of the plan to maintain a relatively traditional schedule for the fall, with the potential for a balanced calendar with intersessions built in beginning after the winter break.  This will be, of course, subject to change for the second semester until we get closer to that time and further into our journey with this pandemic and its continued impact on resuming on-site school operations. 

I am grateful for your understanding, flexibility, patience and support.  We are all in this together, and I sincerely believe, we will be stronger and better when these difficult days are over and we can be reunited again safely.  Until then, you are all in my thoughts and prayers.  Be safe and well.  I miss you more than words can say. 

Melody Hackney, Superintendent of Schools

Stay with 8News for updates to this developing story.

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