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Local parents and teachers say they’re close to breaking point with school reopening

Roanoke County is one of the few divisions across the state using a hybrid plan

ROANOKE COUNTY, Va. – Our students, parents and teachers are about a month into the new school year and it’s becoming very clear what works, and what doesn’t.

On Thursday night, parents and teachers in Roanoke County expressed their frustrations with the current re-opening plan.

Hope Pritchard came to the meeting with a passionate plea. As both a teacher and a parent, she said she’s spending every last minute she can doing her job and in her opinion, the hybrid plan isn’t working.

“I miss my own kids,” Pritchard said before breaking down in tears. “Whether we all come back together five days a week, or whether we go one hundred percent virtual, the in-between is just too much, the half here, half there."

Parents voiced concern about the plan not working as well as they believed it would and fear of students falling behind.

“On virtual instruction days there is no instruction, rather my son has assignments to complete which take him less than an hour some days, the remaining time he spends playing video games," parent Tom Smigielski said.

Chief among the concerns are issues with the virtual learning software, Blackboard. The speakers said it’s unreliable, tough to navigate, and making the overall process difficult. The board has heard the issues over a few weeks back, but now said it’s clear there are consistent patterns of what’s working and what’s not.

“The emotional toll that this pandemic is obviously taking on not only students but parents and teachers is just heart wrenching," school board member David Linden said.

The division has maxed out its in-person capacity right now and said they can’t move forward with more in-person learning until COVID19 cases drop.

But chairman Mike Wray said there’s a lot they can to between now and then,

“We’ve got to make things better if there’s problems, there’s causes and these situations that need to be, we need to address those," Wray said.

He also added there were many parents and teachers they didn’t hear from Thursday night, which leads him to believe the current setup is working for others.