Board approves plan for students to resume in-person learning soon

Young students learn at Julius Sprauve School on St. John in September. The V.I. Board of Education has announced that all students will return to in-person classes in December.

Citing recent rollbacks of COVID-19 restrictions, and a drop in active cases, members of the V.I. Board of Education has approved a plan to return public school students to in-person learning.

The decision was announced at an emergency board meeting Friday.

“The governor himself has made very affirmative steps in reducing restrictions, so it’s very practical and forward thinking to accelerate the return of students to school,” board member Shawna Richards said during meeting discussions.

Under the plan, developed by the board’s School Plans and Facility Committee, high school students will report to classes on Dec. 6; and junior high students on Dec. 13. School-based personnel will return to their respective campuses on Nov. 29 in order to prepare.

Gov. Albert Bryan Jr., speaking at a press briefing from Denver, Colo., on Tuesday, indicated that in-person learning would resume no later than Jan. 10, but noted the possibility of a quicker return.

“I don’t think we should wait until January, if there are any problems and concerns that students have, we can address them,” board member Winona Hendricks said prior to the announcement.

Emmanuella Perez-Cassisus, who noted that the board is open to changes in scheduling as it provides support to the Education Department through the process, said members attended a National School Boards Conference where they participated in a professional development exercise that involved creating a plan to resume in-person classes.

Following the emergency meeting, the board in a released statement said the plan for returning students to classrooms was created after evaluating best practices of school jurisdictions across the country that have successfully navigated the return to in-person learning.

Board Chairman Kyza Callwood indicated the timing was right for the proposal.

“With a lower rate of infection, opportunities for school-aged children to become vaccinated and public health protocols in place, I am confident that the time is right for our students, families and teachers to return to the classroom environment,” he said.

— Contact Sara Kirkpatrick at 340-714- 9109 or email skirkpatrick@dailynews.vi.