Petersburg schools will go virtual, superintendent recommends reevaluation after first 9 weeks

The Tri-Cities

PETERSBURG, Va (WRIC) — Petersburg students will head back to school this fall under a fully virtual platform: “Petersburg Virtual Academy.” The decision was unanimously voted on by the school board. School starts Sept. 8. 

Part of the virtual plan includes getting all students a device to learn if they don’t already have one. Additionally, the district will analyze the number of families without a broadband connection to close the ‘digital divide.’ Wi-Fi hotspots will be made available and the district will apparently look for more funding to purchase more. 

The district’s decision on a virtual start to the school year comes after officials presented three reopening strategies Wednesday night. Options did not include a full five-day in-person return, however.

Options considered by school board members included five days of instruction, with one day for “student support,” an opportunity for more one-on-one instruction online. Two of the three reopening options include two days of in-person learning and three days of learning online, with a fully virtual option for parents to choose.

‘Plan A’ separates in-person instruction into two groups:

  • Group A’ and ‘Group B’–Group A would learn in-person Monday and Tuesday, and learn online the remainder of the week, with Wednesday reserved as a ‘student support day.’
  • Group B would learn in-person Thursday and Friday, and learn online Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday; the ‘student support day.’

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Wednesday would be reserved for ‘deep cleaning’ of schools according to guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, though Superintendent Maria Pitre-Martin said schools are disinfected daily.

A fully virtual learning option was included in ‘Plan A,’ for parents who choose to enroll their students, known as “Petersburg Virtual Academy.”

‘Plan B’ also separates in-person instruction into two groups, but in-person instruction would occur on different days than ‘Plan A’

  • Group A would learn in-person Monday and Tuesday, and learn online the remainder of the week; with Friday reserved for the ‘student support day.’
  • Group B would learn in-person Wednesday and Thursday, and learn online Monday, Tuesday and Friday; which is reserved for ‘student support day.

Friday would be a ‘deep cleaning’ day.

A fully virtual option for parents to choose was also available.

‘Plan C’ was a fully virtual learning plan, with Fridays reserved for ‘student support day.’

Pitre-Martin said the school’s opening strategy may be “re-evaluated” at the end of the first nine weeks of schooling and can be changed by a school board vote.

In her presentation, Pitre-Martin’s said the majority of respondents to the district’s reopening ‘survey’ preferred a fully virtual return to class – 51.2 percent of respondents.

The expected return date for Petersburg students is September 8.

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