Bedford County school leaders vote to delay first day, require masks at times

Board voted against requiring temperature checks for students

Students won't see the inside of a Bedford County classroom until September.

BEDFORD COUNTY, Va. – Students in Bedford County won’t see the inside of a classroom until sometime during the week of Labor Day.

The school board voted on Thursday night 4-3 in favor of delaying the start of school again to the week of Sept. 7. It’s not clear yet when the exact first day of school will be. Board chair Martin Leamy was part of the majority.

“Indications have been that staff would like more time for preparation so we gave them  more time,” Leamy said.

Students are in three groups; elementary, middle and high school, and fully online. Each group will have a different start date, exactly which day is yet to be approved.

It wasn’t superintendent Doug Schuch’s first choice.

“I was on the record tonight saying I thought for our in-person students and with our younger kids, we should have stuck to our original schedule. But at the end of the day the board has made a decision and we’re going to support that,” Schuch said.

School leaders voted in favor of requiring face coverings for students when they can’t maintain six feet of distance. They voted against requiring temperature checks for students, citing student privacy concerns.

“Our original plan had an (mask) encouragement and there would have been a strong training element and we’ll still encourage that but now there’s a requirement and at this point we just have to understand the nuances of that.”

Students and families still have the option to enroll in Bedford Connects, which is the 100% remote option for Bedford County students. On Thursday the board extended the enrollment deadline for Bedford Connects to Monday at 5 p.m. As of the meeting, more than 2,000 students had already enrolled and about 350 were on the waiting list. The board will allow those 350 and anyone else who signs up to be virtual.

They said the deadline was needed to ensure there are enough staff to teach virtually. The school system will be using CARES Act funding to hire any additional staff needed to teach virtually.

Leamy said he felt confident returning kids to the classroom as other area divisions turn toward fully online.

10 News asked him why he felt that way.

“Preparation,” he said.

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