The News & Record
South Boston News & Record
and Mecklenburg Sun
Home   •   News   •   Sports   •   Classifieds   •   Community   •   Health   •   Entertainment   •   Obituaries   •   Opinions   •   Weather
Advertising | Contact | Register
Advanced Search
News

Halifax Council updated on water repairs, restaurant

Free covid testing set Friday at fairgrounds

Mecklenburg County’s older students to stay at home, for now

Trustees accept recommendation to continue remote learning for secondary grades as COVID-19 strikes at several schools

Sports

Jeffress in running as NL top reliever

Comet alum is one of three finalists for NL Reliever of the Year honors after his first year in bullpen with Chicago Cubs

Community


Opinion


A&E

News

Halifax County trustees to renew talks on return to school

SoVaNow.com / September 24, 2020
The Halifax County School Board will meet Monday for a special called meeting to continue talks on when to send students back to class — after deciding two weeks ago to stick with an at-home educational model to start the new school year.

The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. at the Halifax County Middle School cafeteria to review Superintendent of School Mark Lineburg’s “Return To School” plan, which recommends a phased return of students to classrooms, starting with the group of special education students deemed in greatest need of in-school learning.

That group consists of some 169 special education learners with acute conditions that require support services such as physical, occupational and speech therapy. At the Sept. 14 regular meeting of the school board, trustees heard from a number of parents who pleaded for a return to the classroom for their children, who are struggling at home and unable to learn remotely due to autism and other developmental disorders.

On a 4-4 vote, trustees opted instead to keep all students at home out of concern for their safety with the coronavirus pandemic. Previously, the school board voted to begin the school year with students learning remotely for the first nine-week grading period.

Monday’s meeting will be the latest opportunity for board members to take stock of the public health situation, and decide where Halifax County Public Schools should go from here.

Lineburg said Wednesday he has “tremendous respect” for the seriousness that trustees have brought on both sides of the debate.

“The argument is real. It’s over safety and getting kids to school,” he said.

“It’s an incredible challenge right now, and we appreciate everyone’s patience as we try to get there,” Lineburg said.

Lineburg said the Central Office is continuing to receive information from the Virginia Department of Education to guide the assessment on when — and under what conditions — it will be safe to bring students back to school for face-to-face learning. Trustees must consider not only student health, but also the potential risks to teachers and other school staff.

The spread of COVID-19 in Halifax County has moderated somewhat in the past week, with 22 new cases reported by the Virginia Department of Health over the past seven days through Wednesday. Over the prior seven-day period, Halifax saw 40 additional positive test results for COVID-19. The overall number of infections since the pandemic hit Halifax County in March is 332, according to VDH.

Lineburg noted Wednesday that the state education department will provide updated guidance on Thursday, based on the latest CDC information, and “we have a new health matrix we’re working through” in preparation for the Monday meeting of the School Board.

However, Lineburg said Halifax and surrounding areas have not been able to control the spread of COVID-19 on par with other parts of Virginia.

“The Central Region is still in what’s known as substantial spread. As it is now, I think the Central Region is the only region in the state in substantial spread,” Lineburg said.

Even with students kept away from school buildings, “a very small number of folks” in the school employee workforce have tested positive for the virus, said Lineburg.

“We will have an employee health update on Monday” for the trustees’ special meeting, he said.

“The greatest challenge is gaining confidence in our health matrix. That’s the challenge. Everybody wants to go back to school — we have to find the path that gets us there,” Lineburg said.

The Return To School plan presented at the Sept. 14 board meeting laid out a timetable for bringing students back to the classroom on a staggered basis. Following the highest priority group of acute need SPED learners, the plan called for the return of homeless and English learner students, followed one month later by students in grades pre-K through five. The plan called for these elementary students to attend school on an A/B, two-day hybrid school-and-home weekly schedule.

The remaining steps were slated to unfold in November and December, when the elementary students would return to a four-day weekly calendar, and students in the middle school and high school would start to return to school.

“By and large, that’s the calendar we like,” said Lineburg. “We think it’s sound, we think it’s operational, and we think it’s functional.”

The Monday special meeting is open to the public, but unlike regular School Board meetings, there is no time set aside on the agenda for public comment. Along with the Return to School plan, trustees are expected to discuss transportation arrangements and plans for the high school writing test.



Tell-a-Friend | Submit a Comment

36

Comments

The only thing that is spreading is the B.S. with the State agencies not separating fact from fiction. Mecklenburg scholols are back but not Halifax. Makes NO sense. I guess we won't have a flu season since its all gonna be "Rona" according to State. In a time of deceit, Truth is revolutionary.


Advertising Flyer

Find out how you can reach more customers by advertising with The News & Record and The Mecklenburg Sun -- in print and online.