Salem schools looking to expand in-person learning to four days a week come late March

This will apply only to students in grades 3 through 12

SALEM, Va. – Some Salem students could be back in classrooms starting later this month, if the new plan is approved by the school board.

Salem City School officials announced in an email sent to parents on Thursday that they’ve chosen March 22 as a tentative start date for students to switch to a four-day week of in-person learning, pending school board approval.

If approved, officials said students already in hybrid learning classes in grades 3 through 12 will attend school Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, expanding from the current two days per week of in-person learning. Wednesdays will be used for online instruction.

Salem students have been in the classroom in some capacity since Aug. 30, 2020.

Students in Pre-K through second grade have been and will continue to be in-person five days a week.

Salem City School officials said they are confident that they can increase student attendance safely due to the fact that there has been a lower intensity of COVID-19 cases over the past week. There have been 19 new COVID cases in Salem in the last seven days, according to the CDC’s COVID Data Tracker.

[Where are Virginia’s coronavirus cases? The latest from the health department]

Officials claim this means that there have been 75 cases per 100,000 people, making the cases lower than the threshold of 100 between the higher risk and highest risk levels.

The release laid out a plan to implement COVID-19 safety precautions to keep students safe, including:

  • Requiring students to follow the six-foot physical distance guidelines during lunch, while on buses, etc.
  • Requiring students to wear face coverings at all times over their nose and mouth other than while eating lunch
  • Reduced capacity limit on buses, and encouraging parents to take their students to school if they are able to

Guardians have until March 10 to notify their child’s school if they want their students to return to in-person learning. After that date, there might be limited space available for students planning to switch from online instruction to in-person instruction.

There will be no change for pre-K through second-grade students and parents who wish to keep their students fully online still have that option.

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