School Board meeting

Albemarle County School Board members discuss school resource officers during a virtual meeting Thursday.

Albemarle County Public Schools likely will not be making any changes to its school resource officer program until at least July 9.

During a meeting Thursday, the county School Board heard about an informational review of the school resource officer program, which will be presented to the board on June 26.

The review will include reports on discipline, crime and violence; climate surveys; ACPS threat assessment reports; principal input; and student survey data, among other items.

“We were going to present you all of the information on June 26, and then on July 9, you can provide staff with next steps or where you would like to go from here,” said Jamie Gellner, the division program evaluator.

After weeks of protests locally and nationally about policing, Charlottesville City Schools decided to end its current school resource officer program, with a goal to have a new model in place before school starts. Richmond Public Schools has decided that it will do a 90-day review to examine its relationship with local police.

Albemarle schools Superintendent Matt Haas said that based on input from the board, school division staff could work on a resolution that spells out the reasons for any changes and the specifics of what would be different.

“We’re hoping that by July 9, through the direction of the board, we’ll be able to present a resolution to you, that can be put in front of you by the chair, and then looking for a motion to support that resolution for the change,” he said. “To me, it’s like a bread crumb trail that you’re laying out into your decision.”

The student survey will be sent out Friday to those in grades six through 12 and will ask about their level of comfort with school resource officers and their experiences.

The county has five school resource officers, one each at Albemarle High School and Monticello High School, one that covers the middle and elementary schools in the northern feeder pattern, one that covers the middle and elementary schools in the southern feeder pattern and one that covers the entire western feeder pattern.

The board will spend about two hours during its retreat Friday talking about SROs, and another two hours talking about the division’s return-to-school plan. The retreat starts at 9 a.m. and will be livestreamed on k12albemarle.org.

On June 26, the board also will select a school start date. A survey received almost 5,000 responses from parents, students, employees and community members, and about 52% thought that a late start would be beneficial. About 55% said they were satisfied with a Sept. 8 start date.

The survey was conducted online and over the phone for households that have been identified as having no internet.

Deputy Superintendent Debora Collins said that based on the information the division has from the state, its own Return to School Planning Guide, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Thomas Jefferson Health District, the division is looking toward starting the school year with a hybrid learning model.

“By that we mean that one portion of the student body will take classes on campus for a period of time while another portion may learn remotely,” she said.

The division also will offer a fully virtual learning option that will parallel what’s happening in the regular classroom, she said.

Another survey will go out to parents next week in which they will be asked about the school transportation needs they anticipate for their children, as well as their preferences for either in-person or virtual instruction, or a combination of both.

“There’s still a lot of inputs to making decisions about how often we can have how many children in school buildings,” Collins said.

The county’s goals are to finalize student schedules by July 9 and to submit its instructional plan to the state by July 15.

“We’re going to need more data from our parents around transportation, if they are going to transport their children, and if they’re going to come to school, because all that information allows us to determine how many students we can transport at a time,” Collins said. “...We’re determined to get more data and push ourselves to have more options for students and parents.”

Next week, the division will finalize its Return to School Planning Guide. The guide was created by the Return to School Task Force, which included more than 80 representatives from the division’s schools and departments.

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