Salem City Schools to reopen in upcoming school year

Local News

SALEM, Va. (WFXR) — The Salem City School Board approved their reopening plan for the 2020-2021 school year Tuesday night.

In the plan, students in grades 3-12 will attend school in-person twice a week on staggered days. Students will be divided into four groups — A, B, C, and D — with groups A and C attending school on Mondays and Thursdays while groups B and D attend school on Tuesdays and Fridays. As for the remaining days, students will do online coursework.

For grades PK-2, students will attend in-person class for the full school week. However, students will be spread out through more classrooms to assist with socially distancing, and Salem Schools will bring on additional staff to accommodate the extra classrooms.

While this is the current plan, Salem City Schools has plans for whatever scenario falls on the school district amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“If things get better, we hope to transition to 100 percent of students in school every day. If things get worse, we can drop back to 25 percent, or in a worst-case scenario, we can go back to a zero percent or a 100 percent online learning,” said Assistant Superintendent, Curtis Hicks.

Hicks says the staggered approach between in-person and remote learning for grades 3-12 is a safe approach in this current time.

Hicks said, “When the students are coming in school twice a week, I think it’s going to be a lot easier for teachers to kind of keep tabs on where they are and kind of where they need to go.”

For online learning, Hicks mentioned that Salem City Schools is partnering with the Virginia Department of Education (VDE) and Virtual Virginia.

“All of our teachers will be using the Canvas learning system. All of our teachers are also going to be providing content through Virtual Virginia, so that’s just going to create a more consistent platform, a one stop shop, for students and parents.”

Grades PK-2 being 100 percent in-person is good news for parents like Kristen King, whose son, a rising kindergartner, was affected by having his year cut short in March.

“We saw behavior changes just within a few months because he was lacking that socialization, that structure, that daily routine from the school standpoint,” King said.

“We feel like that alleviates some of the childcare issues created by students not being in school every day,” Hicks added.

One of the key parts about this plan is it gives parents the option to choose in-person or complete remote learning. Grades PK-2 will also receive Google Chromebooks this year.

“They’re taking into consideration different peoples’ comfort levels with what’s going on and allowing the parent to have that flexibility in where their child learns,” said King.

For grades 3-12, families are going to be factored into the grouping of students, meaning siblings will be lumped together.

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