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Some Chesterfield Students Returning To In-Person Instruction

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In Chesterfield, Special Education students will attend classes four days a week. Officials say families who don’t want their children to return can continue with virtual learning.  (Photo: Ian Stewart/VPM News)

In Chesterfield County, some Special Education students in grades K through 12 will be heading back to in-person learning on September 29.

The group of students got the OK to be the first to return by the district’s health committee -- which gave their recommendations to the school board Monday.

The committee was formed to give the school board bi-weekly updates on data, in part provided by the Virginia Department of Health. 

“Based on our review and analysis of the current data, the health committee recommends beginning the phased in approach by returning cohort one to in-person learning,” said Nick Oyler, coordinator of Student Health Services for the district.

Oyler told the board that though the current positivity rates are fluctuating, the numbers still are within the range acceptable for in-person classes for some Special Education students, according to guidelines provided by the Virginia Department of Health.

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According to documents obtained from a school board meeting last April, the county has over 8000 students with disabilities. However, exactly how many students will return is still to be determined. Deputy Superintendent Thomas Taylor told the board that parents can still keep their children home. VPM reached out to Taylor to get an exact amount, but has not heard back. 

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The Special Education students will attend classes four days a week. Officials said that families who don’t want their children to return can continue with virtual learning. 

In his address to the supervisors, Taylor said that should metrics change, the district can put a pause button on future students returning or that Superintendent Merv Daugnerty could return all students back to full virtual learning.

After September 29, the district will phase in other students to in-person classes every two weeks based on grade levels, starting with Pre-K through second grade. However, those students will only have face-to-face learning two days a week.