MARTINSVILLE, Va. – Students of Martinsville City Public Schools are headed back to the classroom on Monday for the first time since last March.
Martinsville City and Halifax County Public Schools are the last districts in our region to bring students back. Not all students are returning yet.
Only pre-k, kindergarten, students with special needs and students who are learning English as a second language will start in-person learning on Monday. Superintendent Dr. Zebedee Talley said those are the kids who are the most challenged by virtual learning.
While a year seems like a very long time without in-person learning, Dr. Talley said it was all to keep not just students and staff safe but their families too.
“We have a significant amount of young people whose grandparents are raising them so the transmission is also a concern but of course we’re excited to see them return because we haven’t seen them since the fall, actually a year ago,” said Dr. Talley.
Buses will pick and drop students off but certain seats will be blocked off for social distancing. The buses will be disinfected after every ride. When students get off, they will have a temperature check before they enter their school.
The district also covered water fountains, moved desks six feet apart, put stickers down to mark the direction students should walk in a hallway, everyone has to wear masks and Dr. Talley said they are working on air filtration systems.
Last week many educators in the district got their second dose of the vaccine. Dr. Talley said at this point 2/3 of staff have been vaccinated. He said they are excited to see students but don’t want to add to the community spread.
With only two staff members leaving within the year, the superintendent said it is proof how much the district is prioritizing health and safety.
“Our staff returned because we’ve been consistent. We’ve been virtual all year, our parents already knew what to expect, we have not been in and out, in and out. We’re being consistent but the number one thing we’ve been consistent about is safety,” said Dr. Talley.
The plan is to continue to bring back students in stages as it becomes safe to do so.
Dr. Talley said the district will not hesitate to go back to all remote learning if numbers spike again.
For more information about changes made to keep students safe in the building, click here.