Montgomery County talks about reopening schools, bus concerns

School board, administrators talk through childcare concerns as well

Reopening schools in Virginia

MONTGOMERY CO., Va. – School systems across Virginia are trying to figure out how to re-open safely in the fall for the 1.3 million students.

The Montgomery County School Board talked about challenges Tuesday night.

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Assistant Superintendent of Operations Thomas Kranz says they are looking at two options for bus routes.

Option 1: Bus capacity will be limited to just 13 students in every other seat, in a checkerboard pattern instead of 77 students. Excluding the special education bus runs, Kranz says they would run the normal 74 buses but would need an additional 190 buses to transport students.

Option 2: Bus capacity will be limited to 26 students which would be one student per seat. Students would have to wear face coverings.

Director of Elementary Education Barbara Wickman says they had a survey and meetings to hear from parents, teachers, and administrators over the last couple of months.

Wickman says they’re looking at two options for elementary staggered scheduling. She detailed the following that changes depending on transportation options:

  • Pre-K-second grade attend school 2 full days a week
  • Grades 3-5 attend school one or two full days each week (depending on transportation option)
  • English language learners, students with disabilities and with no cellular access have the option of attending every day
  • Virtual/remote instruction for days they are not physically in school
  • Teachers instruct students how to use Chromebooks, videoconferencing and google classroom

On Wednesdays, schools would be closed for deep cleaning, possible teacher workday or professional development. For students, it would be a workday at home.

There will be a questionnaire sent out to parents next week about whether their child would ride the bus and child care needs.

Teachers with elementary age kids would be allowed to attend school each day to help with childcare concerns.

“We’re going to create equity the best that we can, is it as good as school every day, no it’s not but our hands have been tied by the restrictions that’s what we’re looking at so we’re trying to address equity in many different areas and many different ways,” said Mark Miear, Montgomery County school superintendent.

“We can have a great positive attitude but the reality is we’re not going to be serving students the way we need to be serving students plain and simple,” said Penny Franklin, a school board member who represents District B.

If the district goes with the first transportation option, a max of 25% of middle school students and 25% of high school students will attend one designated class in person on assigned days.

If the district goes with the second transportation option, a max of 50% of middle school students and 50% of high school students will attend one designated class in person on their assigned days.

The school board also talked about how the high schools are on different schedules so that makes it a little difficult to plan.

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