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Charlottesville City Schools announced Wednesday evening that the committee tasked to develop plans for in-person instruction has recommended the division to consider continuing virtual only until next year. 

The decision to remain online-only was made in part because the committee is concerned about the flu season, coupled with Charlottesville’s new COVID-19 cases surpassing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s threshold, Superintendent Rosa Atkins wrote in an email to parents. 

According to state records that dates the first local case to Feb. 29, Charlottesville has reported 1,472 COVID-19 cases, 33 hospitalizations and 31 deaths. Albemarle County has reported 1,447 cases, 84 hospitalizations and 22 deaths.

Her email also stressed that the plans are preliminary. A formal presentation will be made to the School Board. It is unclear when board members will take a vote on the new plans. 

 This is a developing story. 

The new plan would allow younger children to attend school first, as discussed in previous meetings, and then proceed to older children. The phasing-in of classroom learning could begin on Jan. 11 and 19 and would be offered to prekindergarten to sixth-grade students, Atkins said. 

“The committee notes that if demand for in-person instruction is high, this four-day per week model might need to shift to a two-day per week model to maintain adequate spacing and staffing in the building,” she said. 

Starting Feb. 1 under the plan, Buford Middle School and Charlottesville High School students would have the opportunity to attend school in person two days per week. Parents would still have the option to keep their children in a virtual-only setting. 

“We know this is challenging. Just because the pandemic is no longer ‘new’ doesn’t make it any easier,” Atkins said.  “Yet even so, I am proud of our community parents, students, teachers, community partners, and more for a willingness to keep learning together.”

In Albemarle, the School Board in a split vote last week voted to expand in-person learning starting Nov. 9 to allow up to 5,000 children in from prekindergarten to third grade.

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Billy Jean Louis

Billy Jean Louis joined Charlottesville Tomorrow as its education reporter in April 2019 and is a graduate of the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications. Born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Jean Louis speaks English, Haitian Creole and French.