Politics

Virginia County Ponders Plan Allowing Students Learning English To Go Back To School First

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Mary Margaret Olohan Social Issues Reporter
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A northern Virginia county may prioritize English learning students when making decisions about when students go back to school in the fall.

As schools weigh calls to reopen in the fall against fears that there will be a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, Fairfax County Public Schools has come up with three possible solutions: a virtual start, reopening with social distance protocols in effect, or online learning by need. (RELATED: GOP Bill Would Withhold Funding From Schools That Don’t Reopen By September)

The second option would allow students to return to school at limited capacity with health and safety protocols and would prioritize English language learners, special education students, and K-2 students for in classroom instruction, calling these groups “high needs populations.”

“In-school instruction may be prioritized for high needs populations such as special education students, English language learners, or students in grades K-2 while serving the majority of students virtually,” the suggested plan says. (RELATED: Evidence Suggests Kids Are Extremely Low Risk For Coronavirus)

“Under these plans, Fridays would be set aside as in-person support days for students with IEPs, English Language Learners or other selected students in need of additional support.”

Director of News and Information at Fairfax County Public Schools Lucy H. Caldwell told the Daily Caller News Foundation that “no final decisions regarding reopening of FCPS in the fall have been made yet.” She did not immediately respond to further requests for comment, but a press release notes that the Fairfax County School Board hopes to reach an agreed-upon reopening plan by June 26.

Children pick up free lunch at Kenmore Middle School in Arlington, Virginia. (ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images)

“We had to ensure safe learning and working environments for students and staff members,” said FCPS Superintendent Scott S. Brabrand in a statement, “that students received instruction that meets state and federal standards; that students have access to technology and connectivity along with social-emotional wellness and health supports, supports to meet the needs of special populations, and support for student transitions and building new relationships.”

Several Republican lawmakers, including Republican Reps. Jim Banks of Indiana and Tom Tiffany of Wisconsin, introduced a bill Thursday meant to incentivize schools to reopen from coronavirus closures by September 5.

The Reopen Our Schools Act would withhold federal funding from schools that don’t open in the fall for in-person learning – a move that comes as educators and lawmakers discuss plans to slowly reopen the United States after several months of shutdowns due to the coronavirus pandemic

“There are too many negative consequences for our children, their teachers and parents if we fail to reopen our schools in the fall,” Banks told the DCNF. “Schools must come up with a plan to safely reopen, and this bill is designed to push them to do it.”

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