Lottery system to decide if some students continue virtual learning at Old Donation School in VB

Virginia News

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) – As coronavirus numbers continue to decline in Hampton Roads, schools are preparing for students to come back to the classroom.

One of the many challenges schools are facing is scheduling.

A school in Virginia Beach is turning to a method that’s causing confusion and frustration among parents.

Old Donation School is using a lottery system that will determine if some students continue learning from home — even if they chose face-to-face learning as their preference.

Just like other VBCPS campuses, families at ODS had to decide if they wanted their student to return in-person or to continue virtual learning once schools reopen — but whether that actually happens may come down to chance.

“This letter that came out yesterday was blindsiding,” said Braden Wicks.

Parents at the school got a letter from the principal on Thursday. It said due to spacing guidelines in classrooms, the school can’t fit every student who chose the face-to-face option. The letter goes on to say some students were randomly identified and switched to continue with remote learning for the rest of the semester. 

“It was just like what? What’s going on, what’s happening?” Wicks said. 

Wicks is the parent of a second-grade student at ODS. Her daughter’s teacher is one who’s named in the letter to remain virtual for the first semester.

Wicks chose the in-person option over the summer.

“All the communication that has come from the school district has been ‘once you make your choice you can’t change it.’ Now we made our choice and now it’s being changed for us,” she said.

VBCPS sent a statement to 10 On Your Side.
We understand the frustration our families are feeling. As a result of the impacts of COVID-19, VBCPS is building two new school divisions from the ground up, which has been an ever-evolving challenge. We are working diligently to create schedules that meet the educational needs of both our Option 1 (in-person instruction) and Option 2 (virtual instruction) families while our community continues to manage a health pandemic. Old Donation School has unique staffing and space issues, and with 75% of all ODS families having requested Option 1 for their children, we are not able to accommodate everyone who requested in-person instruction. We have therefore asked for volunteers to switch from Option 1 to Option 2 for the remainder of the first semester, with families who make that switch granted first priority for an Option 1 placement during the second semester, should their preference remain the same. If there are not enough volunteers, there will be a lottery to randomly assign Option 2 to the students who cannot be accommodated for Option 1 during the first semester. This is the safest and most assured way of delivering the curriculum our ODS families expect.

Parents have to submit a choice by Monday afternoon but Wicks says she has more questions than answers.

“You’re telling me that this is the only school in the whole entire district that faces this problem?” Wicks said. “Not all the pieces fall into place.”

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