On Wednesday, February 17, 2021, the administration of Norfolk Public Schools presented to the School Board an update to the division’s plan for a return to in-person learning. School Board members approved the plan unanimously.

The implementation of our plan begins on Monday, March 1, 2021, as all teachers and staff return to their respective work locations. March 1-3, 2021, will serve as asynchronous learning days for students while teachers and staff make final preparations to begin safely phasing in students on Monday, March 15, 2021. The three-phase process for students is expected to be completed by Monday, April 26, 2021. During and after the phase-in process, teachers will use a hybrid instructional model each day to teach their lessons. (Both the phase-in process and hybrid instruction model graphs are below for your reference.)

Concurrent & Hybrid Learning Models: Webcams have been added to every classroom to support four days of live instruction for all students, whether they are in person or virtual. Note: Self-contained students with disabilities will have four days per week of in-person learning, and all students will continue with asynchronous lessons on Wednesdays from home.

Parents/Guardians have the option of keeping their children in the current virtual learning format through our Virtual Scholars Academy (VSA). If a student is already enrolled in the VSA, parents and guardians do not need to do anything further, and students do not need to report in person to their respective school buildings for the rest of the academic year. Details are forthcoming for parents/guardians of students who have not officially enrolled in the VSA and would now like to do so. In the meantime, more information on the VSA can be found on the division’s website here: npsk12.com/site/Default.aspx?PageID=16065.

Childcare and School Nutrition: With our approved plan there has been much consideration for operational needs and resources to fully support the community with safely transitioning students and staff back to school for in-person instruction. These considerations include childcare needs, school nutrition, and transportation. Norfolk Public Schools is continuing to work with providers across the City to offer programs for students who may need childcare on Mondays through Wednesdays or on Wednesdays through Fridays. Since the closure of schools last March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the staff of the NPS Department of School Nutrition has served more than 2 million grab n’ go meals at thirty-four (34) schools to accommodate virtual learners. This program will continue along with the return to a more traditional breakfast and lunch service that will operate in accordance with health mitigation guidelines for students who return in person.

Transportation: In order to ensure the ability to transport all students to and from school, ridership on school buses will be increased up to 40 students where necessary.  Children who live in the same household must share a seat.  School start and end times will be staggered to ensure that transportation staff can sanitize all seating areas between routes. Other health mitigation strategies such as wearing masks at all times and opening windows as weather permits will also be followed. Please note the change of start times for each stagger below. These changes will go into effect beginning March 4, 2021: 

As always, the health and safety of our students and staff remains a top priority. It is important to note that even when a school carefully plans and prepares, cases of COVID-19 may still occur. Thus, adherence to mitigation strategies is essential to slowing the spread in schools. Procedures are in place to adapt to schools’ schedules, program needs, building set up, and movement and/or location of occupants throughout the facilities, including limiting nonessential visitors, volunteers, and activities. Wearing masks, physical distancing, hand washing, disinfecting, and contact tracing are all part of Norfolk Public Schools’ key mitigation plan:

  • Masks will be a requirement for all students and staff while at the bus stop, on the bus, and in school when not eating or drinking.
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) will be available for teachers and staff.
  • Desks in classrooms will be set up at least 6 feet apart, and movement in hallways will be structured to assist students with appropriately practicing physical distancing. 
  • Hand washing and use of hand sanitizer will be taught to younger students and strongly encouraged with older students. 
  • Buildings will be cleaned and sanitized on a regular basis.

Protocol for Reports of Positive Cases: Parents/Guardians are reminded to monitor their child’s(ren’s) health to watch for symptoms prior to arrival at school each day. Upon the report of a positive COVID-19 case or exposure in a building, existing protocols for contact tracing and sanitization will be immediately implemented. In the instance that a classroom, section(s) of a school and/or an entire school needs to be closed temporarily to control any type of an outbreak, parents will be notified, and students will return to the virtual learning setting until the sanitization and contact-tracing processes are complete.  Additionally, plans are in place at each school to have an isolation room for students who are showing symptoms of COVID-19 to remain until they can be picked up from school. 

Education has always been a collaborative effort, and our strong partnership with our families has certainly sustained us during this time. We sincerely appreciate our students and families for continuing to adapt and remain flexible as we navigated these unchartered waters together. Please rest assured that we have heard your feedback, and our administration will continue to monitor health metrics to provide a safe and healthy learning and work environment for our students, teachers, and staff.

For more details about the NPS Return to In-Person Plan, visit our new webpage as a resource for the most up-to-date information as we make this transition: npsk12.com/Page/17555.

Together, we will close out this school year with equity and excellence for all!

Sincerely,

Dr. Sharon I. Byrdsong

Superintendent of Schools

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