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Botetourt County School Board approves back-to-school plan

Published: Jul. 21, 2020 at 11:44 AM EDT
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BOTETOURT COUNTY, Va. (WDBJ) - In Botetourt County, the school year is being pushed back by two weeks and students will be getting more in-person instruction following a new back-to-school plan approved Tuesday.

“The main message for everyone involved is that we have to stay flexible and adaptable,” School Board Chair Michelle Crook said.

The new plan comes after families and teachers across the district voiced their opinions about the original hybrid model approved June 29.

Now, there is more in-person education for students. Pre-K through second graders will be in classrooms four days a week.

Third through twelfth graders will go back for in-person instruction two days a week with remote learning the other three days.

“I’m all for kids going back, but at the same time it has to be safe,” Stacey Collins, a mother in the district said.

Collins has two sons, a rising third grader and a rising freshman. She said her main concerns are about whether the school district has enough resources to welcome back students after recent COVID related budget cuts.

“Where is this money coming from? How are they going to social distance? Are we paying our teachers more? Do we have the money to hire more people?” Collins asked.

The schools’ superintendent, Jonathan Russ, said they are finding solutions to keep everyone safe with this new model.

“Our principals have done a great job of creating extra space or changing schedules. We now may be using at rooms, band rooms, to put more students in,” Russ said.

By mid-October, if COVID numbers are improving, the district would add even more in-person instruction for students.

Pre-K through second graders would be in the classroom five days a week and the older students would have three in-person and two remote learning days. The third through twelfth graders will be assigned to an A or B team and would rotate who had in-person instruction each Wednesday.

Those changes would start October 21 at the beginning of the second marking period.

“The key has to be keeping our students safe and keeping our faculty and staff safe,” Russ said.

January 5, the district will reassess numbers again, and if things are improving all students could go back to full in-person learning.

If cases start to rise or the Governor mandates new changes, the district could fall back to 100 percent remote learning.

A few calendar changes to the district are as follows: The first day of school has been pushed back from August 10 to August 24, and the last day of school has been pushed back from May 26 to May 28.

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