Staunton school leaders lock in virtual learning for first semester

Staunton school leaders lock in virtual learning for first semester
Staunton School Board meeting at Staunton City Hall (Source: WVIR)

STAUNTON, Va. (WVIR) - Staunton School leaders have locked in a virtual-only learning model for the first semester.

The Staunton School Board met Monday night for an update from Superintendent Dr. Garett Smith on the plan to reopen Staunton Schools.

Smith told the board about a new tool from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention that will help school divisions determine when it’s safe to reopen schools, noting a recent upward trend in COVID-19 cases for the area.

Educators from Dixon Learning Center talked about the successes they’ve had with preschoolers wearing masks and social distancing.

Smith also expressed the desire to survey families about how they’re feeling now when it comes to virtual learning or a blended model that would allow for virtual and in-person learning.

“Our teachers and staff have been outstanding at adapting to a new instructional model. We’re very proud of them in their efforts,” Smith stated. “However, the virtual model isn’t working for many of our families. They’re really struggling. At Staunton High School alone we have nearly a hundred students who are already failing two or more courses.”

School Board members aiming to provide stability and consistency for families voted 5-1 to keep the virtual-only learning model through the semester, then consider the Superintendent’s recommendation for the second semester.

“So that you have stability to help. So you’re still gonna do everything you do but you look at it, yeah virtual’s gonna be for the first semester. But we’re gonna be doing all these checks which you gotta do anyway,” School Board Chair Ken Venable said. “So it gives people a sense of relief.”

Select students will still have in-person learning opportunities.

Superintendent Smith talked about putting teams of teachers and administrators together to visit Augusta County Schools to see how it’s going.

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