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9,200 Virginia Beach City Public Schools students return to school buildings

On the heels of a positive COVID-19 case at Birdneck Elementary, thousands of students returned to the classrooms in Virginia Beach.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Tuesday marked the first day for in-person instruction for some Virginia Beach City Public Schools students.

Special education students began face-to-face learning last Tuesday.

Today, 9,200 Pre-K through second-grade students returned to classrooms.

Those students' parents opted not to stick with online instruction for the whole semester.

Superintendent Doctor Aaron Spence said today's return to in-person learning went well.

“It’s really exceeded my expectations,” said Dr. Spence. “I would attribute that to the hard work of teachers. The hard work of our principals and the trust that our community and parents are placing in us.”

Spence said to help cultivate that trust, they’ve put precautions in place. For example, inside Cooke Elementary, physical distancing markers tell everyone to spread out.

Plexiglass separates desks and during class, students spread three feet apart, while wearing masks.

So far, W.T. Cooke Elementary Principal Casey Conger said about 79% of the school is back and so far, students are listening to the new procedures.

“They assimilated they wear their masks,” said Conger.

She said it feels like the first day of school for teachers and students. “They couldn’t wait. They like bounded out of the cars,” said Conger.

Even with the excitement, concerns remain about COVID-19. Still, Conger felt that returning to in-person instruction is the right decision.

“So we are going to take every precaution that we can, but we are also here to educate kids," Principal Conger explained.

This moment comes on the heels of a positive coronavirus case announced at Birdneck Elementary School.

“We have never said that we can guarantee that the virus won’t be in our buildings, but we will do everything we can to mitigate that in our buildings and we will communicate it to those who need to know about it when it happens,” Dr. Spence said.

Parents tell 13News Now that they still feel good about sending their children back to school.

“I say a prayer every morning that everybody is safe you know and everybody makes it through the day,” parent Nisa Daniels-George said.

“100% safe. I’m just glad to have them out of the house,” added another parent, Mike Webster.

The next group of students to come back to class will be third, fourth, and fifth-graders on October 6.