More in-person learning coming for many Roanoke City Students

The district released a new proposed reopening plan Tuesday - but officials are waiting on parent input to move forward
Published: Feb. 24, 2021 at 12:47 AM EST
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - Roanoke City students may soon have a lot more time in the classroom. A new reopening plan, unveiled Tuesday night, calls for four days a week of in-person learning for many.

The district is still limited in the number of middle and high schoolers it can bring back because of staffing limits, scheduling issues and other concerns. Still, this proposal could impact elementary schoolers, plus hundreds of kids grades 6 through 12.

The plan calls for all elementary school students who want it to be back in class four days a week.

Four days would also be offered to middle and high schoolers who fall into certain categories, including those who are disabled or who lack permanent housing, and seniors at risk of losing credit.

“We believe we can bring in a significant number of students who are in these categories,” said Superintendent Verletta White during Tuesday’s School Board Work Session.

According to White, this plan is the next reasonable step for the district, where most students currently have two days a week of in-person learning available.

“This plan will keep us in alignment with all of the safety protocols, and will help us with distancing and space,” she said.

In class, students’ desks would still be spaced between three and six feet at all times. But maintaining that distance gets difficult, or impossible, on the school bus.

“We need help getting kids to school,” said Roanoke City Schools’ Chief Operating Officer Chris Perkins. “Because some of our routes, based on the numbers that we’re going to increase to, some of our routes would require more than one student per seat.”

That means kids would be under the three-foot minimum social distancing recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

“I need everybody to acknowledge that there’s risk,” said Perkins.

The board took no vote on the reopening plan Tuesday. Instead, they set a special called meeting for Wednesday at William Fleming High School. The meeting will start at 5:30 p.m. Parents will have an opportunity to weigh in on the new reopening plan before the board takes a vote.

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