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The Manassas City School Board once again declined to set any dates for a return to in-person learning for most students Tuesday night, citing concerns over increasing COVID-19 cases in the region and across the country.

At its last meeting in November, division staff presented a detailed plan for a phased return of most kindergarten and 12th grade students without any potential dates attached. On Tuesday night, staff provided the school board two plans with dates attached, but the board chose to wait and reassess the situation at their next meeting in January. Instead, the board allowed staff to slightly roll back in-person learning for the 72 special education students and English-language learners who are currently getting limited classroom instruction, granting a two-week pause following winter break for those students.

Having been directed by the board to present possible dates for a return, Manassas City school staff provided two timelines for the start of in-person learning for students not already going to classrooms. Melissa Saunders, the school division’s director of student achievement, said the board would only recommend the more delayed timeline, which would bring pre-kindergartners to first-grade students back starting Jan. 4. But no board member had requested that a vote for return to in-person learning be put on the meeting’s action agenda. Instead it was on the discussion agenda, and Chair Sanford Williams said the board might take up a timeline for return at its January meeting.

“There will be no action taken tonight to act on these dates, especially given the precipitous nature of the calamity that’s befallen us with the virus, the fact that cases are going up and worse nationwide and in the area than they were previously,” Williams said.

In her presentation Tuesday night, Saunders started by detailing the most recent numbers regarding COVID-19 spread within the city and region.

With a 14-day average of 432.3 new cases per 100,000 population, she reported, Manassas City is in the Virginia Department of Health’s “highest-risk category” when it comes to school reopenings. According to the VDH, the same goes for the city’s 14-day test positivity rate at 15.8%, though Northern Virginia as a region is in the state’s lowest-risk category in terms of hospital beds occupied.

But any potential dates for the in-person return timeline will have to be presented and potentially voted on when the school board has its next meeting on Jan. 12. There will be two members when that happens, as both Scott Albrecht and Vice Chair Kristen Keifer both declined to seek re-election this year. They will be replaced by Christina Brooks and Carl Hollingsworth Jr.

Board member Tim Demeria summed up the reluctance to vote on potential return dates, saying that the board really wants to get students back in the classroom.

“We have all been trying to figure out a way to open our buildings to our staff and our students. It’s the goal of this board to open this up and get our kids back in the building,” Demeria said. “... I can’t figure it out. I have no inclination right now of voting to put our children and staff back in these buildings the way these numbers are reading and the way the experts are predicting them to go.”

Jared Foretek covers the Manassas area and regional news across Northern Virginia. Reach him at jforetek@insidenova.com

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Jared Foretek covers the Manassas area and regional news across Northern Virginia. Reach him at jforetek@insidenova.com

(8) comments

Halyork

No wonder the school system is one of the worst in the state. Look at the idiots that run the school board. Last election there was such little interest that they had to pick one of the write in candidates to fill a spot.

Hawkeye10

Yep,

Only way id send my kids back to school is maskless and socially un-distant. Id discourage the use of ethyl-alcohol hand sanitizer also, because Im able to think critically for myself, which the public school system actually Does Not want its participants to do. Id bring back (2) recesses a day in elementary school like old times, and teach them how other countries like Israel, Cyprus, France, significantly protect our children's health by eliminating Wi-Fi in nursery and elementary school settings, not out of an abundance of caution, but based on actual scientific evidence. France has even gone the extra step of hard-wiring all of their computer networks in the school systems. In other words, yes its true, France is SMARTER than than the U.S. when it comes to the safety and health of children in the school system. Let that sink in...

But wait a second, its not the children that need to be taught this, its the politicans who brag in another article on here about providing Wi-Fi hot spots to low-income students through government funding! Yep, the government really cares about its childrens future that they want to radiate and manipulate their brains! Bravo! They do care about recycling (another major scam) and the environment though, so Ill give am a pass! As a matter of fact, some of the local governments use Radiofrequencies to track recycling bins now. You cant make this stuff up, although there are many on here that do believe I in fact, "make stuff up!" You know, like One America News Network! Not like CNN! Noooooooooooooo, Project Veritas? Nooooooooo, thats not real! Thats fake news!!!

The irony, its comical. But back to my original point, the kids should have been back to school in August or September, as normal. Believe it or not, most kids actually want to go to school. But I can assure you masking them up, socially distancing them up, sitting them in front of a laptop while in the classroom, its all social engineering. Nothing more, nothing less.

derek005

Halyork and Hawkeye, Why don't you "idiots" run for a school seat since all you have all of the answers?

Hawkeye10

Cant really argue with that, minus the "idiot" part, but only if your my opponent!

[lol]

derek005

Hawkeye, I apologize for calling both you guys idiots. Frustration got the best of me. Once again, sorry.

Hawkeye10

No problem at all. Appreciate it.

Brad

The science shows that kids should be in school. Democrats do not care about science. In this case it's about teachers unions being in charge and lining the pockets of politicians. Follow the money. Meanwhile, Manassas schools continue to decline. Crime continues to increase. Taxes will continue to increase. It's the same pattern in all democrat "led" cities.

Stoptheinsanity

Seems like it was easier to kick the can down the road instead of addressing real problems right now. Pathetic that they would use contractors to teach the children virtually. Is there no teachers capable of doing what they already are. Sound like they are looking for ways to lay off teachers while funding their buddies endeavors. Using tax dollars to do wrong by the teachers and children is exactly what Democrats want. More taxes to fund more corruption. Meanwhile their kids are in private schools where all the real leaders must be.

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