Students at Manassas City Public Schools are returning to the classroom for the first time since March.
Special Education students returned to the classroom on November 4. In December, the city School Board is set to vote on when to return the remainder of the school division’s nearly 8,000 students to the classroom, up to three days per week.
However, some students may return to find a key element of the classroom experience missing: A teacher at the front of the classroom.
During a special meeting of the City School Board on November 11, Dr. Melissa Saunders, director of the student achievement at the city school division, said some teachers might opt to remain at home and teach virtually. Those teachers would be given the option to work remotely.
“We don’t speak for other divisions, but as for [Manassas City Public Schools], we do not know how many teachers [the return to in-person learning plan] will impact yet, as they will need to go through the process of obtaining documentation for their doctor,” said schools spokeswoman Al Raford penned in an email to PLN. “The goal is to keep consistency for students. If a teacher has the proper documentation for teleworking, and we can find coverage for the classroom, we will explore this idea.”
A classroom monitor would sit with children while teachers provided virtual instructions from home. It would be a newly created position within the school division, which has yet to be advertised on the school division’s employment website, Radford added.
Many will have students in their classroom and children who are participating in the discussion at home for teachers who do return to teach in person. The in-person teacher will use a computer monitor and a microphone to see and interact with the at-home students.
The school division planned to send a survey to parents on November 16, asking whether they wanted their children back in the classroom for in-person learning.
A similar survey was sent to parents over the summer, and the majority of respondents opted to send their children back to the classroom. Only 31% of respondents said they would opt to keep their child at home, while 49% of teachers surveyed said they were comfortable returning to the classroom.
The school system started classes on August 31, with all students learning from laptops at home.
If the city School Board in December selects a date for students to return to the classroom, students will continue to be on their own, from home, for “asynchronous” learning on Mondays and alternate in-person days Tuesday through Friday.
Pre-kindergarten through first-grade students will be the first to go back. Two to three weeks later, grades two through four will return, followed by the remaining grade levels three weeks afterward.
All teachers are slated to return to the classroom three days before the start of school to familiarize themselves with the new technology set up in the classroom, as many will be teaching students sitting in desks in the classroom, as well as students who are learning from home, at the same time.