Wythe Co. Schools delays start, will begin virtually

Published: Aug. 19, 2020 at 10:01 PM EDT
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WYTHE COUNTY, Va. (WDBJ) - In Wythe County, the start of school has been pushed back, and students will now begin the year all virtually. After a unanimous vote last Thursday, the start of school also got delayed until Sept. 8.

It was a tough decision for Wythe County Public Schools to go 100-percent virtual, but this Thursday parents and students will have a better understanding of what that new school day will look like. The district plans to send out information to the community.

“It’s been a perpetual plan,” said Superintendent Scott Jefferies. “This is the best course of action right now, but we’re optimistic, we’re hopeful much sooner than later we’ll be able to get students back into the building.”

Jefferies said after monitoring data from the health department and surveying employees, a virtual start was needed.

“The feedback we received from teachers and staff, it was widespread concern about coming back into the classroom in person, even if it was in a hybrid manner,” Jefferies said.

He said the county is anticipating a peak in COVID-19 cases by mid-September, causing them to vote unanimously to change their plan.

“It wasn’t a decision that was made lightly,” Jefferies said. “I think as the beginning of the school year was rapidly approaching, mindsets change, I think attitudes change.”

For now, buildings are off limits to visitors, including us, as teachers slowly re-integrate back to the classroom. The largest employer in the county hasn’t been open since March 13. Jefferies said it’s been 159 days since the last time kids were in the buildings.

“It is very alarming to us and very concerning, so when we start this 100-percent virtual model in a couple of weeks, our biggest focus is going to be, even in a virtual manner, is to reconnect with kids,” he said.

The district is planning to schedule individual sessions to get to know each student as the district re-brands the way it provides instruction.

“We’ll be ready for it whenever we are blessed enough to get our students back into our buildings,” Jefferies said.

School will be held virtually until at least October 26. Whenever students do go back into the buildings they will have to do daily health screenings, including temperature checks.

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