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Some Roanoke Valley parents jump ship to private schools offering 5-day, in-person instruction

'A lot of preparations going into place to make sure that we are safely and responsibly opening'

ROANOKE, Va. – Schools across Virginia are scrambling to figure out how often kids can go to school this fall and what classroom instruction will look like. Many public schools in the Roanoke Valley are considering in-person instruction for students just two days a week. Meanwhile, some private schools are planning to have kids attend school in-person five days a week.

Parents trying to juggle work, school schedules and potentially day care are taking notice.

Private schools like Roanoke Catholic School and Faith Christian School said their plans are for things to feel as if almost nothing has changed.

“A lot of preparations going into place to make sure that we are safely and responsibly opening,” said Michael Hemphill, the director of marketing at Roanoke Catholic.

The move is catching the attention of parents. Hemphill said the school’s gotten an uptick in new inquiries from families hoping to enroll: 60 since the start of the summer.

“We are trying our best to make sure that we can accommodate those families, but also at the same time making sure that we are making it safe for our current families,” said Hemphill.

Faith Christian Head of School Peter Baur said the school is still enrolling for the fall, but there’s already a waitlist for some grades.

“Just the two-day-a-week program, particularly dual-income families, I think will find it particularly difficult,” said Baur. “There is an increase in interest because of the uncertainty.”

Roanoke Catholic will have about 400 students on campus. Faith Christian will have about 210 students. The biggest adjustment will be spacing out students at least six feet apart.

Roanoke Catholic will check everyone’s temperatures each morning. Since Faith Christian doesn’t have school buses, socially distant transportation won’t be an issue.

Hemphill said the school is looking ahead to more than just the physical well-being of students and staff.

“There’s an emotional health that comes, and a spiritual health that comes with actually being part of a school community and seeing friends and seeing your teachers,” said Hemphill. “We’re just trying to balance all those issues just like everyone else.”

Both schools told 10 News there is still a lot of planning that has to happen, for example, calculating the exact class size, and figuring out how gym class and lunch will work.

They’re also preparing in case Virginia’s COVID-19 cases increase and they need to go back to remote learning.


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