Roanoke City School Board approves four days a week of in-person learning for certain students

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(Photo: Courtesy Roanoke City Public Schools)

(Photo: Courtesy Roanoke City Public Schools)

ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — During a special meeting on Wednesday night, members of the Roanoke City School Board voted to approve a proposal that would bring a lot of students — excluding many middle and high schoolers — back to the classroom four days a week.

Roanoke City Public Schools’ administration presented a plan for the rest of the school year to the school board on Tuesday, Feb. 23.

Then, in another special meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 24, the Roanoke School Board listened to citizen input on that plan before discussing it further and voting on it.

You can read the full “Moving Forward RCPS” proposal by following this link, but the recommended changes in the plan are as follows:

  • March 11-12: Asynchronous days for elementary schools to prepare for in-person instruction
  • March 15: Elementary school students will start four days a week of in-person learning; Noel C. Taylor Academy’s middle and high school students will start four days a week of in-person learning
  • March 29 (start of the fourth nine weeks of the school year):
    • Two days a week of in-person learning continues for middle and high school
    • Four days a week of in-person learning starts for designated middle and high school students
    • Four days a week of in-person learning continues for students with disabilities participating in the special education setting more than 50 percent of their day, Level I English Learners, and 4-year-old preschool students
    • Forest Park Academy will continue four days a week of in-person learning with small groups on Fridays

In addition, school officials say Virtual Academy would still continue at all levels with this plan.

Several members of the public showed up to share their thoughts and concerns about the academic and the emotional impact of these learning models on students.

While the members of the school board unanimously approved the motion to return PreK and elementary students to four days a week of in-person learning by March 15, six out of seven approved the motion for the part of the learning plan going into effect March 29.

“I would prefer a plan that at least maxed out our capacity within our schools within the guidelines,” said Laura Rottenborn, the only member of the school board to vote against the plan. “And I don’t think we’ve turned over every stone to do it, and my heart is truly broken for the kids in our district who are truly suffering. It hurts,” she said.

A number of other school board members and community members voiced their disappointment that the school board had not done more.

“We all want more students in person, more days per week,” said Superintendent Verletta White. “We all share that same sentiment.”

However, White says the other options that would have allowed more students to return to the classroom — especially for grades six through 12 — were hindered by social distancing requirements, shortages in staffing, and scheduling issues.

You can watch the full recording of Wednesday’s meeting by clicking here.

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