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Botetourt “reopening the discussion” on school plan after parent outcry

Changes could be made to the current two-days-a-week plan
Published: Jul. 10, 2020 at 12:38 AM EDT
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FINCASTLE, Va. (WDBJ) - Back in June, the Botetourt School Board approved its fall reopening plan unanimously. Students from Pre-K through 12th grade would be in class two days a week, and learning remotely the other three.

Little did the board know that plan would be the beginning, not the end, of the debate over how to restart school in the county.

Officials were flooded with calls and emails from parents. That led board chair Michelle Crook to declare Thursday the board would be “reopening the discussion.”

Officials say they’re not scrapping the original school plan. Instead, they’ll be taking the next week to listen to parents, and decide if any modifications need to be made.

In addition to receiving hundreds of emails over the last two weeks, 23 parents, teachers and administrators took the podium during Thursday’s school board meeting to share their opinions.

“How do you expect parents who work full time to home-school our kids?” asked one parent.

The majority of parents who spoke were opposed to the current plan. Several said lack of access to not only childcare but internet is a major unresolved issue.

“A lot of families ... have no laptops, nothing of that sort. What’s the county going to do to provide for that?” said another.

Teachers, on the other hand, said almost unanimously the board needs to be as cautious as it can.

“I don’t want any of my students to have to deal with the death of a family member, and I also don’t want to deal with that myself either,” said high school teacher Eric Rader.

Board members, including new Superintendent Dr. Jonathan Russ, say they’ll now consider making changes to the plan

“It possibly could change some,” said Russ.

But Russ cautions CDC and VDH guidance will determine the future for Botetourt County schools.

Any changes will have to be approved by the board. There are no immediate plans to take such a vote.

Copyright 2020 WDBJ. All rights reserved.

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