Masked and socially distanced, pre-K and kindergarten students in Fairfax County were set to begin in-class learning on Tuesday for a first day of school unlike any other.
Fairfax County opted to open back up for its youngest students earlier than most elementary, middle and high school students. More groups of special education students were also set to return Tuesday.
“These kids have never been in school before,” Principal Lauren Badini said. “Having them come in first and giving them the opportunity to feel comfortable then phasing in the next group is part of that measured, strategic plan.”
The classrooms are set to run under a concurrent model: Twelve students will come on Tuesday and Wednesday while another dozen watch from home, then the groups switch for the other two days.
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Fairfax County Public Schools has implemented safety plans to minimize the risk of students and staff ]getting COVID-19 as waves of students go back to classrooms.
Desks are placed six feet apart and many schools have placed stickers in hallways reminding kids to keep their distance. One classroom surrounded desks with blue and yellow tape to help kids know where to go — but have a little freedom within the safe zone.
Kids should bring face masks, a reusable water bottle and their own school supplies labeled with their full names. Parents can also consider sending sanitizing wipes, personal tissues and hand sanitizer.
Full virtual learning is still running for families who request it and classrooms are set up so the kids learning from home don’t miss out and can still ask questions.
As additional grade levels return to schools, Fairfax County is using a concurrent instruction model in which students receive two days of teacher-led instruction in the school building and two days of instruction at home.
Four groups returned last week and the rest of the groups are scheduled to return to classrooms in phases each Tuesday through March 16.
But WTOP reported one parent was concerned after it took four days for them to be notified of a potential virus exposure.
A student at Sleepy Hollow Elementary was exposed by a school employee who tested positive on Wednesday, WTOP reported.
Fairfax County Public Schools says it learned of the positive test on Saturday and then notified the community on Sunday.