Richmond School Board votes to have ‘fully virtual’ learning this fall

Richmond

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The Richmond School Board on Tuesday night voted in favor of having fully-virtual learning when students return in the fall amid ongoing concerns of safety during the coronavirus pandemic.

In an 8-1 vote during Tuesday’s special school board meeting, members adopted the fully virtual option for students, which will be in effect the first semester of the 2020-21 school year. Thus, students will not return to the classroom for the remainder of the year.

“My heart and my mind have been torn in different directions,” RPS Superintendent Jason Kamras said during Tuesday night’s virtual meeting. “I just want to acknowledge how difficult this is.”

At last night’s board meeting, Kamras broke down the elements of virtual instruction. He said the model would be a combination of live instruction and playlist instruction, where students would watch and respond to videos.

The district would also have to purchase an additional five to eight thousand chromebooks, WIFI hotspots and 250 laptops so every teacher and student has access to online learning.

Kamras also said more training would be provided for teachers and staff on how to work in a virtual environment. Attendance will be taken and students will be given report cards.

MORE SCHOOL BOARD VOTES:

A list of five reopening options was provided online Friday, with the Richmond School Board ultimately deciding on Plan E. The discussed options included:

Plan A

  • A fully virtual option PLUS
  • A hybrid option that includes 2 days of in-person instruction and 3 days of virtual instruction each week PLUS
  • 5 days of in-person instruction each week for students with greater academic needs (e.g., certain students with IEPs and certain English Learners)

Plan B

  • A fully virtual option PLUS
  • A fully in-person option

Plan C

  • A fully in-person option for elementary students PLUS
  • A fully virtual option for elementary students PLUS
  • Only a fully virtual option for middle school and secondary students

Plan D

  • A fully in-person option for certain high-need students PLUS
  • Only a fully virtual option for everyone else

Plan E

  • Only a fully virtual option for the first semester

During the nearly four-hour meeting, school board members read letters from parents and staff weighed in on how schools should move forward in the fall.

“There is no one right solution, no matter what path we take it will cause inconvenience or hardship for some group of people,” Kamras said. “I wish that weren’t the case.”

RELATED: Richmond Education Association calls for ‘virtual return’ ahead of RPS new school year

The vote could be heard around the 3:20:00 mark of the RPS School Board meeting, which was live-streamed on the district’s Facebook page.

WATCH THE FULL RPS SCHOOL BOARD MEETING BELOW:

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