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Loudoun County parents protest proposed school reopening plan

The plan would offer students two days of in-person instruction a week, mixed with three days of distance learning. It is contingent on several factors.

LEESBURG, Va. — A proposal in Loudoun County on how to reopen schools this fall is running into opposition from some local parents.

Loudoun County Public Schools Superintendent Eric Williams previously laid out three scenarios for returning to class: 

  1. Reopen schools with 100% in-person learning: In-person learning in this scenario would occur without physical distancing or other public health mitigation strategies.
  2. Reopen schools with a combination of in-person and distance learning: In-person learning would occur with physical distancing and other public health mitigation strategies.
  3. Extend distance learning without in-person learning: Distance learning would be extended with a revised approach, building on the strengths of the current distance learning approach and making good use of opportunities for improvement.

Dozens of parents gathered outside the Loudoun County School Administration Building Monday afternoon to protest an idea that would offer students two days of in-person instruction a week, mixed with three days of distance learning, when classes resume August 27. 

The proposal will only go into effect if Virginia were in Phase 3 in August, and it still needs the approval of the Loudoun County School Board. The body is expected to discuss when to hold a final vote on the issue Tuesday night.

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Loudoun County parent Erin Roselle Poe organized Monday’s protest. She said parents should make the final decision as to whether their students return to school buildings full-time.

“If they want to send their child to school, 100%, so be it,” she said. “If parents or family members feel it is a risk, they should have the choice to keep their family members home.”

Another parent, Jean-Paul Bergeaux, said he was worried about the implications staying at home could have on students’ social development in the future.

“Part of going to school is learning how to interact, how to do conflict resolution, how to have hard times, how to create friendships, how to do those things,” he said. “How do you do that if you’re not able to go to school?”

In a statement, Loudoun County Public Schools said it would like to have in-person learning for its students in August, but it added it first must keep them safe by following local and state health officials' recommendations.

“Local health conditions and the phase of recovery we are in at the time will determine our plan, based on the state’s guidance that we comply with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention physical-distancing precautions and other measures to protect the health of students, staff members and families,” the statement reads.

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Local teacher Andrea Weiskopf held a solo, counter-protest next to the school administration building Monday. She said she is still worried students and staff could get sick inside schools this fall.

“We need to listen to the science,” she said.

The school system says it is encouraging parents to answer a survey it launched on Thursday regarding reopening. It adds input in writing and through public comment from parents at virtual school board meetings is welcome as well.

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