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School districts feel better prepared for virtual learning

Published: Aug. 11, 2021 at 5:22 PM EDT
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BOTETOURT COUNTY, Va. (WDBJ) - Students at Botetourt and Franklin County Public Schools returned to class Wednesday, some sitting at desks, others working from computers online.

“I think we have learned that some of our families need a different format and different way of attending school. And those needs don’t stop when the pandemic ends. Those needs continue on,” Botetourt County Schools Virtual Learning Coordinator Leah Stephenson said.

Botetourt County has partnered with an online learning platform to launch its Virtual Academy. That platform is called Stride Learning Solutions.

About 70 students have signed up for the program. The platform will provide the teachers for the academy but will follow the Botetourt calendar and expectations.

“Our teachers can concentrate on their in-classroom students and they are not carrying the burden of trying to teach multiple groups at the same time,” Stephenson said.

Meanwhile in Franklin County, students in different grade levels have a choice to sign up for Virtual Virginia or have a blended learning experience.

“I think COVID allowed us some unique opportunities to expand our thinking process and way of doing business,” Franklin County Curriculum Director Brenda Muse said.

Teachers in the district volunteered to provide a blended classroom experience, Muse said.

That means while they are teaching to a class of in-person students, they will also have a web camera streaming for students learning at home.

“They are prepared. Our students will receive excellent instruction as they always have. Families will continue to get the support,” Muse said.

About 175 students are starting the school year virtually in Franklin County. They do have the choice to return in person at any point in the school year.

So while the programs and platforms will look different between districts, the goal is the same: keep students on a path to success.

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