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More than half of Albemarle families opt for in-person classes

About 55% of Albemarle County families have said they want their children to go back to school for classes twice a week, and division officials say they have enough teachers to make that work.

The School Board voted Oct. 8 to move to Stage Three of the division’s reopening plan, which opens up in-person classes to preschoolers through third-graders as well as increasing the number of students who can go into schools for online classes.

About 187 teachers, roughly 15% of the division’s teaching workforce, requested to keep teaching remotely, but not all of those requests are expected to be granted, said Clare Keiser, the division’s assistant superintendent of schools for organizational development and human resources leadership, in a media briefing before Thursday’s School Board meeting.

More families with younger students in preschool and kindergarten chose the hybrid model, while 50% of third-grade families chose the option. So far, 98% of families have responded to the division’s intent form.

The demographics of students in the hybrid and virtual models mostly mirrors the division’s overall enrollment, according to data presented at Thursday’s School Board.

“We don’t see any great disparities here in the percent of students who are going to make up the hybrid and virtual cohorts,” said county schools Chief of Strategic Planning Patrick McLaughlin.

Keiser and Deputy Superintendent Debbie Collins are working with principals to determine staffing needs and classroom assignments. Whether a teacher’s request is granted depends on the students’ needs.

The numbers of families that requested the hybrid model vary by school from 44.5% to 73.1%. A school-by-school breakdown was not provided during the meeting, but division staff said they would provide it by the end of the meeting.

Right now, Keiser said officials are expecting about one to three virtual teachers per grade level.

“Our principals feel confident,” Keiser said. “They’re doing a really nice job working with their staff to help them feel comfortable.”

Accommodation requests under the American with Disabilities Act will be granted, Keiser said. The non-ADA requests include those who are considered high-risk for contracting COVID-19 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as those who have childcare needs and are concerned about going back into the buildings.

About 51 of the requests were ADA-related while 136 were not. Three people requested a leave of absence and two people retired.

“At this point, we are looking within schools,” Keiser told board members of how they were looking at the requests.

She added that they are not expecting to shift teachers to other schools.

To grant the other requests, Keiser said they’ll follow the process used for a reduction in force, which takes into account an employee’s seniority, endorsements and certifications.

Source: www.dailyprogress.com

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