Botetourt County Public Schools releases reopening plan for fall 2020


BOTETOURT COUNTY, Va. (WFXR) — During Monday’s Botetourt County School Board meeting, officials announced that students will split their week between school and home in order to receive an in-person education while also minimizing potential spread of the coronavirus.

Botetourt County Public Schools allowed Dr. Larry Massie, the outgoing interim superintendent, to elaborate on the plan during the school board meeting on Monday, June 29.

According to Massie, officials designed this plan for the fall semester based on recommendations from the CDC, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH), the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE), the Roanoke City and Alleghany Health Districts, the school district’s attorneys and insurance carrier, and Botetourt County public school parents.

Massie says the school district received 4,154 responses — approximately 91 percent of parents with students enrolled in Botetourt County Public Schools — regarding their preferences for how students should return to school amid coronavirus concerns. According to Massie, 85 percent of the responses voiced a preference for a mixture of in-person and remote learning.

“The plan that follows is intended to minimize the risk for our students and staff while meeting the needs of our community,” said Massie.

Using all these recommendations from health experts, education officials, and community members, Massie announced Botetourt County Public Schools would kick off the 2020-2021 school year on Monday, Aug. 10 with students going to school two days a week and attending online classes three days a week.

More specifically, half of the student body will attend classes Mondays and Thursdays while the other half attends classes Tuesdays and Fridays, according to Massie. However, parents are allowed to keep their kid(s) at home for five days of remote learning, but those students will still be considered full-time students with Botetourt County Public Schools.

Meanwhile, students who live in the same household will be allowed to attend in-person classes on the same days and sit together on buses, Massie says. For all other students, though, they will be required to sit in separate seats on the bus.

Masks will reportedly be mandatory while riding the bus — due to the number of students needed to ride on each bus in order to accommodate the in-person classes while simultaneously maintaining physical distancing between students — and any time students or teachers are less than six feet apart. Furthermore, all buses and classrooms will be thoroughly cleaned after each use.

Massie says the school district will return to full-time in-person classes as soon as it is safe and feasible, but Botetourt County Public Schools will also be prepared to shift back to full-time remote classes should circumstances change enough to mandate additional closures.

According to Massie, this reopening plan is specifically designed for the fall semester and will be reevaluated for spring based on recommendations from Virginia’s government and health officials.

Students’ individual schedules are set to be released in July once the school district finalizes the transportation schedule, Massie says.

In addition, officials say they will continue to develop the school reopening plan over the course of the summer, focusing on issues such as transportation and childcare.

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