Roanoke County Public Schools looks to expand in-person learning

Roanoke Valley News

ROANOKE COUNTY, Va. (WFXR) — Roanoke County Public Schools is looking to expand in-person learning very soon.

The topic was discussed during a school board meeting on Thursday, Feb. 25.

Roanoke County is one of several school districts in southwest Virginia that has been providing in-person learning for students and their families since the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year.

The notion stems from the school district’s expandable schedule plan, which was approved by board members last July. The plan is designed to maximize in-person learning, while providing safety measures for students and staff during the coronavirus pandemic.

Students within the school system have gotten more in-person learning since August than most other school districts in the region and state, according to a presentation conducted by Dr. Jessica McClung, the Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources and Pupil Personnel Services.

Data from multiple agencies like the Virginia Department of Health (VDH), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), and the Virginia Department of Education has played a big role.

In the third nine weeks, the plan was expanded as follows:

  • All students in PreK through fourth grade began in-person learning five days per week
  • Designated teachers worked with students in kindergarten through fourth grade opting for all-online instruction 
  • All students in grades five through 12 continued in-person learning on a hybrid schedule two days per week
  • Instruction provided by classroom teachers for students in grades five through 12 opting for all-online instruction
  • Identified at-risk students with daily IEP and EL services or failing classes began attending four days per week in grades five through 12 (an additional 1,300 students, approximately)

With an updated expansion plan, school officials are hoping to bring back even more students come this spring.

“[We’re] working diligently with our principals to try to look through each individual building to see how we can explore expanded opportunities for the spring and also supplement with any optional summer programs that might be useful for select identified students,” said Dr. McClung.

School officials say mitigation efforts has been the key to bringing back more students for in-person learning.

During the school board meeting, Chairman Don Butzer acknowledged that Thursday was the first day since the school district opened its doors back up in August, that there have been no new COVID-19 exposures and COVID-19 cases within the district.

Staff members are expected to present a full report and plan during the school board work session on March 2.

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