As Virginia Public Schools Struggle to Reopen, Thales Academy Sees Strong Start to School Year

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Many public schools in Virginia won’t start until the end of August, but Thales Academy in Glen Allen is already off to a strong start for the 2020-2021 school year.

Thales, which is a private school with campuses in Virginia, North Carolina, and Tennessee, started their school year on July 20.

The Virginia campus, located in Glen Allen, currently enrolls students in kindergarten through second grade.

The institution is named after Thales of Miletus, who is widely regarded as the Father of the Sciences and Western Philosophy.

The schools are structured to offer students an affordable and high-quality education through the use of “Direct Instruction and a Classical Curriculum that embodies traditional American values,” according to Thales Academy’s website.

Thales Academy has instituted numerous precautions to keep students, parents, and teachers safe during the pandemic, including daily temperature checks, social distancing, frequent hand washing, no mass gatherings and more.

Bob Luddy, the founder of Thales Academy, told WRAL last month that the choice to reopen when so many public schools have delayed their first days was a joint decision between parents and teachers.

“I think it’s very safe for children,” said Luddy. “It’s pretty well documented. We did surveys with our parents and teachers. They wanted to come back to school.”

The first day of school at Thales saw happy parents, students, teachers, and staff.

“I was in line the first day of school,” Luddy said, “and I was getting a lot of high fives and cheers.”

“People are really excited to have their children back in school,” Luddy continued.

Thales Academy offered students and parents the option for either in-person learning or virtual classrooms for their first quarter.

The private school’s in-person option was challenged by a positive case of COVID-19 at its Raleigh location. A staff member who visited the Raleigh campus tested positive for the disease during the academy’s first week back.

However, Thales was prepared for potential cases of the coronavirus and handled this instance according to their precautions.

“Having taken all the precautions and with our new ventilation system where we’re pumping a lot of fresh air into the building, our parents dealt with it very well,” said Luddy.

Commenting on many states’ pushes to delay reopenings, Luddy said that Thales Academy had “hundreds of parents calling” and asking about enrollment.

“Students need to be in school learning,” replied Luddy. “It doesn’t make any sense to have millions of kids not in school, and they are safe in school if you take the right precautions.”

Vice President Mike Pence said Thales Academy is at the “forefront of reopening a school here in America” during a visit to the Apex campus on July 29.

This is in contrast to many public schools throughout Virginia; school divisions have been encouraged to rely on remote learning as the “dominant method of instruction,” according to the Virginia Department of Education’s (DOE) Phase Guidance for Virginia Schools.

Most schools, such as those in Fairfax County, have postponed the start of school into September and will only have online instruction available for students.

Parents can register their students for in-person instruction in Fairfax County, but those students will receive instruction virtually for the foreseeable future.

Chesapeake, Gloucester, and others in the Hampton Roads area will echo Fairfax’s model and only offer online learning, at least for the start of the semester.

Not all public schools are keeping their physical campuses closed during this semester, though. Hanover County Public Schools will allow students the option of either face-to-face instruction or online classes when school starts on September 8.

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Sam Medley is a journalist at the Tennessee Star and Star News Network. You can follow Sam at Twitter. Email tips to [email protected]

 

 

 

 

 

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