After teacher outcry, Franklin County changes school plan

District leaders acknowledge the new plan will still go against VDH and CDC guidelines
Published: Jan. 19, 2021 at 3:56 AM EST
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - During an emergency meeting Monday night, the Franklin County School board approved a new reopening plan. The new plan comes just eight days before the start of the second semester.

Under the new plan, grades 8-12 will be all virtual starting January 26. If the percent positivity of COVID-19 cases in Franklin County goes down two weeks after that, those students could come back to class.

Pre-K through 7th grade will still attend four days a week.

Teachers had raised concerns about the old plan for weeks, calling it “reckless.” The old plan called for all grades to offer in-person instruction four days a week. Three-foot social distancing would only have been maintained “where feasible” and many students would have had masks off in class twice a day for meals.

While the new plan does address those concerns for grades 8-12, social distancing requirements will remain three feet “when possible.” District leaders acknowledge that goes against CDC and VDH guidance.

During Monday’s school board meeting, members were split. Some continued to insist students need to be in school as much as possible. Others noted the increase in COVID cases since the original reopening plan was approved in November has made a change necessary.

In the end, the board approved the new plan 6-2. Penny Blue and P. D. Hambrick were the two ‘no’ votes.

District staff will make the decision on whether to bring 8-12th graders back after two weeks. While staff will be looking for a “decline” in cases, it’s unclear how much percent positivity would need to drop to bring students back.

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