The Manassas City School Board is mulling a plan to get most students back to some level of in-person learning, but so far no dates have been set and some board members are expressing skepticism as COVID-19 cases rise across the region. 

On Monday, a survey regarding in-person learning went out to the division’s parents, asking whether they would be comfortable with their children returning to physical classrooms. 

Melissa Saunders, the executive director of student achievement, said responses will be collected at the student level until the end of the month. She told InsideNoVa that the division needs specific information on each student’s plans for busing and other logistics. But the division staff will build in room to adjust if things change. 

“We recognize that situations change, circumstances change, and by the time that we do actually get to an in-person experience for their child, there will likely be parents whose minds change,” Saunders added. 

About 76 of the division’s “school-dependent learners,” which includes English-learners and special education students, are already receiving some level of in-person instruction. But at last week’s board meeting, Saunders presented a rough outline for the process of getting the rest of the system’s students into classrooms, without any proposed start date.

“I spoke with [Superintendent Kevin] Newman and I thought it was best that we see what the phases would look like without the dates,” Board Chair Sanford Williams said. “Because as soon as a date is thrown out there, I think that folks would look at the date and it would overwhelm everything else.”

First to return to classrooms would be students in pre-kindergarten through first grade, for whom Mondays would remain virtual learning days, followed by in-person instruction from Tuesdays to Fridays. Some career and technical education programs would begin in-person again along with those youngest students in what staff is calling “Phase 2.” 

Two to three weeks after Phase 2 begins, Phase 3 would bring second- through fourth-graders back for the same Tuesday-Friday in-person schedule. Two weeks after the start of Phase 2, middle and high school staff would return four days per week. One week later, grades five, seven and nine would return. And after another two weeks, the rest of the grades would be back.

Saunders said the idea is to allow students who are in whole new buildings some time to adjust, similar to what would have been an orientation schedule. 

“When we started to look at our secondary students … we realized that we wanted to get [those students] in first, because they’ve never actually been in their building… some haven’t experienced changing classes,” Saunders said. 

From start to finish, according to the division’s plan, grades six, eight, 10, 11 and 12 would be back in classrooms seven to eight weeks after the youngest children return. 

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


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

(7) comments

Jennifer Barlet

I am so glad we moved out of Manassas City. We lived there for 14 years and actually really loved the community. My 3rd grader has now been in hybrid in his new district since October. We moved because there was just no improvement in the school district and it seemed like they were going in the wrong direction. He has had a case of covid in his classroom but they kept going with no shutdown and everything has been fine.


You better have had you’re mask on while you were typing those responses.


It’s a cold virus dude with a 99.97% survival rate. You’ll be OKAY! These people are pathetic representations of human beings in general. How sad it is they represent segments of the populace.

Jimi Weaver

It’s not a cold, but is a deadly virus that has already killed over 250,000 of your fellow Americans

According to Johns Hopkins the current fatality rate in the USA is a little over 2.2%, so I’m not sure where your wildly inaccurate 99.97% survival rate guesstimate comes from.

So tell us @Halyork which 2.2 people per 100 should be sacrificed so you and yours can deny the deadliness of this pandemic.

I agree that all children must be back in school as soon as possible but it must be accomplished as safely as possible for all students, teachers and staff. Lastly to quote Chris Wallace from Fox News “Just where the damn mask”


You’re a hero Jimi. Never forget it. Imagine those great stories you’ll be able to tell your grandchildren about putting on your mask before going into the post office, and spending $30 a week on hand sanitizer and toilet paper. You’re a national hero Jimi!

Jimi Weaver

Insults and personal attacks are the last resort of insecure people with a crumbling position trying to appear confident while losing a debate.

John Dutko

At least he will be able to have grandchildren.

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