Tazewell County school bus

TAZEWELL, Va. — About 35 percent of Tazewell County’s more than 5,300 students have signed up for learning online when the school system reopens for class next week, the county school superintendent said Tuesday.

The situation regarding the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic keeps changing daily, but Tazewell County Schools currently remain scheduled to resume classes on Aug. 17, Superintendent Christopher Stacy stated. A large number of students will be receiving their education over the internet.

“We have probably – it changes daily – about 1,700 students, about 35 percent of our population,” he said when asked how many students would be going to school online. “We have about 5,350 kids.”

There was a deadline for signing students for online learning, but it is still possible to select that option, Stacy said.

“Absolutely. We asked people to commit by Aug. 3, last Monday; but like I said, as things keep changing and if folks are feeling uneasy, if they want to keep their children at home the next six weeks, they can change their minds now,” he stated

Students can use their own laptops and other devices to follow their lessons online, but the school system is in the process of issuing Chromebooks, Stacy said. The school system has purchased some internet hotspots, but Tazewell County has some areas where internet service is not available even if a hotspot is accessible. The plan in these cases is to preload Chromebooks weekly with lessons.

Stacy said he is contact with the Tazewell County Health Department “a couple of times a week,” and the school system is following standards for social distancing and other precautions against COVID-19 recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“As they (precautions) change, we’ll tweak our policies,” he said.

Tazewell County schools will be open on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 8 a.m. to 1:30 or 1:40 p.m. and schools will be closed on Wednesdays for disinfecting. On Wednesdays, all students will receive remote instruction.

Plans call for schools to be cleaned and disinfected on Saturdays. 

Each school employee and student will be provided at least one washable mask when the school year begins, according to information posted on the school system’s website. Employees and students may wear their own masks as long as it doesn’t contain images, slogans or words that violate the school system’s dress code. All students riding a school bus will be required to wear a mask.  Whether a student must wear a mask in school will “vary from age group to age group and take into account underlying health factors. Virginia Department of Health guidance is that when people come closer than 6 feet masks/coverings must be worn.”

— Contact Greg Jordan at gjordan@bdtonline.com

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