City decides on online-only start to the school year, County includes some in-person instruction
“We are not at all thinking that online is going to be easy; it will not be easy,” said Charlottesville Schools Superintendent Dr. Rosa Atkins
Now, at least, parents know what they have to plan for.
Both the Albemarle County and Charlottesville school systems have decided how they are going to open this year. Both School Boards voted for the plans that had been recommended by their respective Superintendents. For the first 9 weeks of school, the County is going mostly virtual [90%] with some in-person [10%], what’s being called Stage 2, and the City is going all virtual, which is being called Plan C. Schools in both the City and County will open September 8. Students and teachers under the County plan will participate in any in-person instruction on a volunteer basis.
According to a recent City survey that was presented, about 45% of families wanted online-only instruction, and a majority of school teachers and staff wanted that option as well. The survey indicated that a desire for online-only has been going up over the summer. “You need to trust your teachers, empower your teachers....they know what's best for themselves and their students,” said one person during the public comment period of the City meeting.
Both Boards found the the decision difficult. A vote for the County’s Stage 2 proposal originally failed 3-4, but after a 10-minute break and new motion, it was passed 4-3. The Stage 2 plan is not all virtual, as is Stage 1, as some Board members wanted. After a grueling 6-hour discussion Thursday night, including guidance from TJHD health director Dr. Denise Bonds [“our own personal Dr, Fauci,” one public comment said], the City School Board voted unanimously to approve an online-only plan. Nearly 500 people were watching the City Board meeting on Zoom at one time, and there were 725 comments under the live stream on Facebook. Local reporter Brielle Entzminger provided an epic tweet thread on the meeting. Both school systems said plans could change depending on community health conditions due to the pandemic, even before the start of school on September 8.
“We are not at all thinking that online is going to be easy; it will not be easy,” said Charlottesville Schools Superintendent Dr. Rosa Atkins . “It will take everyone’s cooperation and us working together in order to make this a successful experience for our students.”