Roanoke City Schools hosts town hall, as return to classrooms looms

Published: Sep. 30, 2020 at 11:27 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - Wednesday evening, parents and students got a chance to press school officials on their reopening plan. It comes just weeks before many kids are set to return to the classroom.

The town hall was one of several Roanoke City Public Schools has held since the summer. Superintendent Verletta White hosted, directing questions to staff members.

The event comes roughly a month before most elementary schoolers will resume some in-person classes. Under the current reopening plan, elementary schoolers will start a hybrid schedule November 2, the first day of the second quarter. Wednesday’s town hall was a chance for parents and students to get their questions out in the open before that transition happens.

“We’re going to go over what’s working well, and what’s not working so well,” said Superintendent White at the start of the event.

One of the primary questions parents had was why the district can’t bring students back in person sooner. White pointed out the primary issue is that “in the city, we still have high levels of community transmission.”

Parents also raised a number of concerns around student safety, including what happens when a student tests positive.

“The positive cases are addressed on a case-by-case basis,” said Executive Director of Student Services Tim Hahn, “in collaboration with our student and employee health, and our local health department.”

Officials also stressed the schools have a deep cleaning plan in place, top notch ventilation systems, and are providing sanitizer as needed.

“Not only have we got hand sanitizing stations in every classroom, and mobile ones throughout the building, we have now placed hand washing stations around all of our schools, and we are adding them at the request of principals,” said Chief of Security Chris Perkins.

The town hall also made it clear the district has a lot of work left to do. Officials are still developing bus routes for the second quarter, and haven’t set start or end times for the school day yet. Graduation for seniors is also up in the air - with officials saying it all hangs on guidance from the state come spring.

Many of those gaps will be filled in once the district knows just how many students plan to return for in-person schooling in the second quarter. A parent intent form will be available online, or physical copies can be filled out at students' schools.

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