Petersburg superintendent looking at several school reopening options

The Tri-Cities

PETERSBURG, Va. (WRIC) — As the school year approaches, districts in our area are putting together plans for reopening.

Earlier this week, the Virginia Department of Education laid out guidelines for all superintendents and local school leaders in a letter. The guidelines recommend that school systems take on a phased approach like the state did when it reopened.

Petersburg Superintendent Dr. Maria Pitre-Martin said she appreciates the VDOE giving schools a playbook and at this time they’re testing out a few options.

Petersburg Public Schools have started their planning process and are speaking with parents about options for the upcoming school year.

“Many of them are open to a totally virtual school option, so we’re considering that as well. And then maybe even a hybrid approach,” Superintendent Pitre-Martin tells 8News. “Where a few days a week they’re in school face-to-face, then the other days of the week they are doing remote learning.”

Petersburg Superintendent Dr. Maria Pitre-Martin told 8News the school system is weighing several options for reopening. (Photo: 8News Reporter Nick Conigliaro)

Phase one of the plan is mainly remote learning with special education and child care programs allowed to resume. Phase two lets preschoolers and kindergarten through the third-grade return to the buildings. Lastly, phase three brings in all students with social distancing.

Superintendent Pitre-Martin said no matter what they do the ‘three W’s’ will be the most important aspect for them.

“Wearing your facial covering, the washing of your hands and the waiting a certain distance from person-to-person. So, we’re going to continue to promote those three W’s as we enter into the school year,” she said.

With part of the guidelines involving remote learning Superintendent Pitre-Martin tells us they’ve brought in 500 extra hot spots and are working to obtain even more.

“Because we knew early on that broadband internet access was not necessarily affordable for all of our families. So, that is something we’re working on and as we look to any virtual options we will have to plan for devices, as well as, internet access.”

Petersburg High School (Photo: 8News)

In addition, the school is looking at consistent cleaning of areas and incorporating a few deep cleaning days each week.

This past year was also Superintendent Pitre-Martin’s first in Petersburg. And although COVID-19 interrupted things, she said it was welcoming.

“We’ve had a fantastic school year up until March 13, which is the day we closed our school’s for Covid-19,” said Superintendent Pitre-Martin. “It was unexpected, but it certainly gave us all as leaders to be flexible and work through any recommended changes as we saw fit.”

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