Bedford delays school start, just days before students were supposed to return

All students will now come back sometime after Labor Day
Published: Aug. 13, 2020 at 11:16 PM EDT
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BEDFORD, Va. (WDBJ) - In a last minute move Thursday night, the Bedford County School Board pushed back the start of fall classes. The first day of school, for all students, will now fall sometime after Labor Day.

The decision comes just six days before Pre-K through 6th Grade students were supposed to return to class, August 19.

“Indications have been that staff would like more time for preparation, so we gave them more time,” said board chair Martin Leamy.

Leamy was one of four board members who voted for the move. Three voted against it.

The board didn’t set a new first day of school. Officials said all grades would now start the week of September 7, but left exact dates up in the air for now.

During the meeting, school officials said some parents had been reaching out, asking for a delay, and that some teachers have been coming forward to say they need more training on Canvas, the district’s new online learning software.

“Canvas is new to a lot of teachers, so anything we can do with training to support them we’ll continue to do,” said District Superintendent Dr. Doug Schuch.

Shuch said the new start date will give the district time to address those issues, and finalize transportation and childcare plans that are still under development.

During Thursday’s meeting, the school board also extended the sign-up period for the district’s online academy, Bedford Connects. That means all 351 students now on the wait-list will be admitted, and others have until August 17 to sign up. The board also authorized the district to use CARES Act funding to hire more online instructors.

One other change made Thursday: face masks will now be required for students on the bus, inside, where social distancing isn’t possible, and at a teacher’s discretion in a classroom.

“I think anything we can do to prevent that spread [of coronavirus] is a step in the positive direction,” said Dr. Schuch.

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