Botetourt Co. Public Schools release Fall 2020 plan

Students will be back in class a max of two days a week.
Published: Jun. 29, 2020 at 5:40 PM EDT
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BOTETOURT COUNTY, Va. (WDBJ) - After months out of the classroom, Botetourt County students will be returning to a very different kind of school August 10.

Under the plan, released during Monday’s School Board meeting, half the student body will attend classes Monday/Thursday, the other half Tuesday/Friday. That means all students will be learning remotely three days a week. Siblings will attend school on the same days, and parents will have the option of keeping their kids at home all week.

“We think we came up with a plan that is the best plan to provide a safe education, a safe environment for our students,” said outgoing interim superintendent Dr. Larry Massie.

Botetourt’s plan was put together after examining VDH and CDC guidance, plus a survey where 91 percent of Botetourt County parents weighed in. “Over 4,000 responses. We feel really good about that,” said Massie.

Massie says the district tried to get students in the classroom as many days as possible, but limited resources hamstrung the district. For instance, Botetourt couldn’t get pre-K through third grade students back full time, as neighboring Roanoke County has.

“If we could come up with a plan to have pre-k through two or three there everyday, we’d certainly look at that. But that would require our hiring of additional staff, and that’s just out of the question,” said Massie.

Massie says transportation was also a major issue. To make even the two-day-a-week schedule work, the county is planning on having more students per school bus than the state recommends.

As a result, masks will be required on buses. They’ll also be required at school, any time students or teachers are closer than 6 feet.

“You know, we really think most students are going to cooperate with that. And in order to go to school, we’re going to have to wear those masks at least part of the day,” said Massie.

The district will be releasing students’ individual schedules later in July. Officials also say they will be fleshing out the school reopening plan throughout the summer, addressing current problem areas, including child care.

Copyright 2020 WDBJ. All rights reserved.

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