Norton school board approves reopening plan


Norton schools are set to reopen to students Aug. 5.

The school board Monday approved a reopening plan “which allows students the choice to receive in-person instruction four days a week (Monday-Thursday) with Friday being a virtual day/deep clean of facilities, or an alternative for those students not wishing to receive in- person instruction is for the student to choose an all-virtual option,” Chair Cody McElroy explained in a Thursday email.

According to a survey sent to families, 80 percent prefer in-person, with 20 percent choosing virtual instruction, McElroy noted.

The school system created a COVID-19 planning team with multiple advisory committees. The contact persons are school nurse Jennifer Hughes (679-0971, and Burton High Assistant Principal Brandon Stidham (679-2554,

School nurses will report any suspected COVID-19 cases to the school principal and the superintendent, who will contact the health department, according to meeting agenda documents.

Faculty and staff will receive virus mitigation training, the reopening plan states. Safety and hygiene videos and SafeSchools training materials will be provided to students, staff and families before schools reopen. Hygiene supplies will be provided at schools.

Distancing guidelines will be followed in classrooms, communal areas and buses “to the greatest extent possible,” it states. Meals will be provided in classrooms. No gatherings of more than 250 will be permitted until Virginia’s Phase Three restrictions have been lifted.

Staff and students will receive health screenings before the start of each school day. Parents will be asked to check their child’s temperature before coming to a bus stop, and to stay on hand until school staff screen the child.

Students with a temperature of 100 or higher will not be allowed on a school bus. Those not allowed on a bus will be required, “health allowing,” to use remote learning for the following 72 hours if those are school days. Remote learning materials will be made available for pickup or delivery.

Students who drive themselves or ride in a private vehicle will be screened when they enter the school.

Only essential visitors will be allowed on school premises and visits will require a scheduled appointment. Families coming to check in or check out a student will need to call ahead and wait outside the building. They should stay in their vehicles while waiting.