Bacon Bits: COVID and School Choice Edition

Chesterfield “sick-out” pretty anemic. A “sick-out” by Chesterfield public school teachers fizzled Monday as the last cohort of students returned to in-person classes, reports the Virginia Star. Students in grades 6-12 entered a hybrid program in which students attended in-person classes two days a week to socially distanced classrooms. “Thank you for giving our children a CHOICE,” wrote parent Julie Watson. “Some kids are having a really hard time mentally and socially being isolated for so long.” According to the Chesterfield Education Association, the vast majority of teachers responding to a survey indicated feeling unsafe or unprepared. Although a few teachers stayed home, a threatened sick-out never gained momentum.

Meanwhile in Fauquier County… Roughly 7,000 children returned to Fauquier County public schools for in-person instruction Monday, reports the Washington Post, even as neighboring Northern Virginia school systems continue to operate online-only or are retreating from reopening plans. The cohort represents 70% of Fauquier’s student population of 11,000. Another 30% of families chose the option of a hybrid experience or staying home for online instruction amounted. Providing families an option — wow, what a novel concept! Rural Fauquier County managed to overcome logistical hurdles such as installing cameras in more than 900 classrooms and reinventing bus transportation schedules to make it happen. Kudos to Fauquier!

And in Fairfax County… In Fairfax County, parents’ main option is dropping out of the school system. Parents of 8,959 students have pulled out of Fairfax County schools this year. Eighty-seven percent were elementary school students, and almost 25% were kindergarteners, reports Reston Now. The exodus reflected students transferring to private schools or switching to homeschooling. Nearly 1,900 left to be homeschooled, up from 264 last year; 1,100 left for a private religious school, up from 296; and 713 departed for a non-religious private school, up from 237.