More students return to Virginia classrooms, while many still await in-person instruction

Published: Mar. 15, 2021 at 7:59 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - Most of the students in Mrs. Bower’s fourth grade class were already receiving in-person instruction two days a week, so their return to Roanoke’s Round Hill Elementary School wasn’t their first opportunity to share the room with classmates.

But it was an important moment.

Monday, Roanoke City Public Schools began providing in-person instruction four days a week for students in the district’s elementary schools.

Eric Anderson is Roanoke’s assistant superintendent for elementary instruction.

“Even in our students’ eyes you could tell the spark was back,” Anderson said, “because they are so excited that school is kind of resembling the way it was last year when they left.”

In the latest snapshot from the Virginia Department of Education, 37 school districts, including many in western Virginia, are providing at least four days of in-person instruction for all their students.

51 others, including Roanoke, are providing at least four days of in-person instruction for some groups of students.

Governor Northam says more are moving in that direction.

“I’m glad to say that now, all, all of our school divisions have submitted plans for in-person learning options and most have started,” Northam said during a briefing last week.

In Roanoke, Anderson said schools will be working to address any learning loss that occurred over the last year. But he said teachers and administrators have been impressed with their students’ resilience.

“We kind of expected students to be a little resistant this morning,” Anderson said, “but what we found is they are very anxious to get back to learning, to be in classrooms with their peers. And so to walk around you, actually see very similar classrooms with students spread out and with masks on.”

March 15 was the date by which Governor Northam said he wanted all school divisions to be ready to offer some form of in-person learning.

We still have a long way to go before that is fully implemented across the state, but it does appear the state is making progress.

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