Roanoke City Schools offer four day, in-person week, only if enough kids opt for fully online

School leaders said in person learning can not be more than 70% of students.

ROANOKE, VA. – On Tuesday night Roanoke City school leaders unveiled the back to school plan and it looks different than most other local divisions.

Parents who want their student to have instruction 100% online can have it, and those that want regular in-person classes can get almost that. But the plan hinges on enough families wanting to keep their kids home. It also pushes back the start date of school.

New Roanoke City Public Schools superintendent Verletta White, with just two weeks on the job, presented the plan to the board Tuesday night which was pleased.

“This is the best case scenario in terms of getting the maximum number of days in a healthy and responsible way,” White said.

Families who want kids to stay home will enroll in the virtual academy. And those who want in-person learning will go to school four days a week, with Friday classes online. That gives schools an extra day to deep clean. Both staff and students will be held to strict screening standards.

“It’ll be a process that will screen every individual before they enter any Roanoke city building, we’re going to provide personal protective equipment to all students free of charge,” schools occupation health services director Jeremy Howard said.

The plan hinges on 30% of students enrolling online, which staff believe is a realistic number based on feedback from a parent survey. But only about two thirds of families responded to that survey, and they need to hear from 100% of families before they lock it in.

Either way, online learning will be more robust than before.

“Students will be able to experience it as they wish, but they will have to go in and log on every day, they will be held accountable. It will be very different from what many students experienced in the spring,” schools executive director for improvement Julie Drewry said.

Students will go back to school later than originally scheduled, on August 31. But school leaders said if positive cases start popping up in schools, things will change quickly.

“We may need to have a class go fully virtual, we may have to have a school go fully virtually if we find that we are in that situation,” White said.

Parents received a robocall with the information Tuesday night and should expect to be able to make their choice for in person or online learning starting Monday.

The board will then need to approve the plan, and they set a time after the end of the month to do so.

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