Chesterfield Public Schools began this school year virtually as did most school systems in Central Virginia. But, as COVID-19 cases have yet to really rise, the school district is prepared to send the first cohort of special needs students back into the building.

If this is successful and COVID numbers remain low, Chesterfield is planning to send more students back to in-person learning in the coming weeks starting with the youngest students first.

Chesterfield’s Superintendent, Merv Daugherty sent the following message to Chesterfield parents explaining the process moving forward.

“My leadership team and our school-based teams have continued to work diligently with the School Board to prepare to welcome students back for in-person learning opportunities. We are ready to greet certain Level 2 special education students previously identified as eligible to return on Sept. 29. Pending Health Committee recommendations, we are excited about the prospect of welcoming other students back in the near future. 

When students in Cohort Nos. 2-4 are eligible to return, they will do so in a hybrid format with learning occurring in person, virtually and asynchronously. After hearing concerns from parents, the School Board recently asked my leadership team to provide clarifications about cohort expectations within the hybrid learning plan, which was first shared with families in July. 

These clarifications highlight that students in the hybrid plan will have the ability to join their in-person classmates at various times during the day while learning from home. (Wednesday would remain a day when all students would learn from home; however, all students will have access to a teacher through a Morning Meeting at the elementary school level or through the Advisory Period at the middle and high school levels. Teachers also will offer targeted remediation, individual check-in with students, small-group instruction and expectations for professional development on Wednesdays.) 

Click here for elementary school information about asynchronous learning days and here for middle/high school information about asynchronous learning days. 

School-based leaders will provide an opportunity for families to share this week if they wish to make any adjustment to their prior selection of options for their student(s), as families make a final decision about whether students will return for in-person instruction or continue with virtual learning. Families have until Oct. 1 to decide; this deadline is needed to allow schools to determine final staffing assignments for in-person and virtual learning. With this decision, families are making a commitment with their choice for the  vv (ending Jan. 29), as schools make adjustments to ensure state-mandated class sizes are in place. Families who do not make a decision automatically will be placed in an in-person class.

Important updates

  • Normal operating times: As we reintroduce Cohort No. 2 to in-person instruction, all Chesterfield County schools will return to their normal operating times. (This includes students who have chosen to remain virtual learners.)
  • Third graders: To better align with Virginia Department of Education and Virginia Department of Health recommendations, Cohort No. 2 now will be expanded to include Grade 3. That means Cohort No. 2 would include students prekindergarten through third grade whenever it is cleared to re-enter schools.
  • Career and Technical Centers: The Virginia Department of Health says that special education students and our youngest learners should be able return to school during moderate or substantial community transmission. The Health Committee’s most recent review of this data indicates this will result in a delay in bringing back CTC students. These students now are a part of Cohort No. 3.


  • As we shared last week, Cohort No. 1 has been cleared and is eligible to return to school starting Tuesday, Sept. 29. Cohort No. 1 includes select K-12 Level 2 special education students with disabilities as determined by individualized education plans (IEPs). 
  • As students return, we will continue to follow health and safety guidelines recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Virginia Department of Health. Face coverings will be required for all students and staff, and each school will take steps to monitor expectations associated with social distancing guidelines.

Thank you for your continued support of our students!

Dr. Merv Daugherty

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By vascope