Roanoke city school leaders optimistic for in-person learning despite virtual start

School year starts virtually on Aug. 31

ROANOKE, Va. – Students in Roanoke City Public Schools will start the year with 100% remote learning.

“This isn’t the program we all wanted to provide; this is the best program we can provide now,” Roanoke City School Board Chair Lutheria Smith said.

The school board voted 6-1 on Tuesday night in favor of a plan that features virtual learning for the first nine weeks.

“We’re on this nine week path and we hope that if the data supports it and our community transmission has declined and we can start to bring children back in nine weeks, we’re looking forward to doing that,” Smith said.

According to the Virginia Department of Health, community transmission is on the verge of becoming substantial in Roanoke. School division leaders said they don’t want to take any risks, but they’re also optimistic that the change is only temporary.

“We’re not abandoning our original plan. We are hopeful that we’re going to get to our original plan, but we do have to take into account where we are as a city in terms of substantial community transmission,” Superintendent Verletta White said.

Students with disabilities or language barriers will have the chance to attend school in person. With less than three weeks until the first day of classes, school leaders said there are still lots of plans to be addressed.

“To make sure that our teachers know not only know how to use the system as far as Canvas is concerned, but how to set up a classroom in the virtual environment, how to welcome students back, all the behavioral expectations setting up grades and grading practices in the virtual format as well,” White said.

The school year is set to begin August 31.

Here’s a look at the full reopening plan:

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