NORFOLK, Va. - Students in Norfolk will sit the first quarter of the 2020-21 school year at home.
The Norfolk School Board voted Wednesday for 100% virtual instruction. It was not a unanimous vote; one board member out of the six voted “no.”
“The safety of our students, teachers and staff is of utmost importance to us,” said School Board chairperson Adale Martin. “As COVID-19 cases continue to rise in our area, we believe beginning the school year virtually is the most responsible option. Dr. Byrdsong and her staff will continue to monitor local health conditions in consultation with the Norfolk Public Health Department and my school board colleagues to return to in-person instruction when deemed safe.”
The vote comes after Superintendent Dr. Sharon I. Byrdsong and her administration gave informational presentations during the school board’s regular meeting on July 15 and Wednesday's special call meeting. Board members deliberated over four reopening options and requested additional information regarding the impact of virtual education on students of equity and opportunity before making their decision.
“We are pleased with Superintendent Dr. Byrdsong and her administration’s planning to make all students’ virtual educational experiences engaging and relevant this fall,” Martin said. “We are also confident that the administration will continue to offer services to support students’ social, emotional and nutritional well-being.”
The plan is to start with online learning for nine weeks until it is safe for students to go back to school in person.
Special academic groups - including kindergarten to 3rd grade, special education and English language learners - will be given priority to go back into the school buildings when it is safe.
Starting in the fall, students and families will be given grade level-specific, virtual school schedules to include daily interactions between teachers and students, asynchronous activities, art and music sessions and small group and independent learning opportunities using software the division provides. Students’ schedules will also allow for additional instructional time for students of equity and opportunity, as well as after-school support for all students.