By CHARLES OWENS

Bluefield Daily Telegraph

TAZEWELL, Va. — School officials in Tazewell County have announced a return date for students.

The county school board has set August 17 as the first day of school for students for the 2020-2021 academic school year, according to Lindsey Akers, director of public relations for the school system.

Akers said August 14 will be a teacher work day.

There will be 190 days of instruction, according to School Superintendent Dr. Christopher B. Stacy.

“We have added 10 instructional days to our calendar in an attempt to bridge any achievement gaps created by the sudden closure of school on March 13, 2020,” Stacy said in a press release. “These extra days will be a means to kick start the new year by reviewing material from the end of the previous year and making a transition to new material, new courses, and new grade levels.”

Akers said school officials will announce their specific plans at the July 13 school board meeting on how to reopen schools safely with COVID-19 precautions in place. That meeting begins at 5 p.m. at the Tazewell Middle School auditorium.

The specifics of the back-to-school plan is still a work in progress, but the school board intends to have a plan in place by the July 13th meeting, Akers said.

When Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced the state's plan for getting students back in school last month, the suggestions outlined by Northam included the possibility of both remote learning and in-classroom instruction.

Akers said remote learning is still one area of consideration, adding that teachers have already been trained in Goole classroom.

June 1 was announced as the last day of school for students. The last work day for teachers for the 2020-2021 school year will be June 2.

It was also announced Wednesday that the school board had approved a $67 million budget that included funding for a one step raise for all teachers, five new school buses, a school psychologist, roof repairs, a new garbage truck and backhoe and Virginia Retirement System benefits for bus drivers, custodial staff and food service staff.

— Contact Charles Owens at cowens@bdtonline.com. Follow him @BDTOwens

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