Fauquier County School Board unanimously voted on Monday to expand its hybrid learning plan to four days of in-person learning.
The school board started it’s hybrid plan, which includes two days a week of in-person learning, last November. Some classes had as few as four kids, others up to 13 and the rest learned online at home.
“There was a little bit of a learning curve to it at first, but we've gotten to see some really great work from the kids,” English teacher Kelsey Howald said.
But big changes are ahead.
Superintendent David Jeck said he pushed for four days a week for the benefit of the students.
“No matter how good the virtual model you have in a place is, there is no substitute for that face-to-face interaction with kids,” Jeck said.
About 70% of parents said they will now send their kids four day a week, but the superintendent cautions there will be trade-offs. With more kids in school, the six-foot distance between desks is no longer possible.
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“We’ll have to adhere to a three-foot model with masks, with mitigation,” Jeck said. “We need to be real transparent about that with parents. That’s something they are going to have to factor in as they make this decision.”
For parents who choose to keep their kids at home for virtual learning, Jeck said they will still be able to “watch” the class, but may get less attention on the in-person days.
"It will be harder to provide a really robust virtual program. It will be difficult. And we try to be upfront with parents about that fact," he said.
Many students have shared their approval of coming back for four days a week.
High school freshman Steve Greeley said he’ll be in school for all four days while freshman Priya Kommu said she likes being in person because of the learning and being able to interact with others.
Parent and cancer survivor Natalie Erdossy said she will continue to keep her four children learning at home as safety is her top concern. She said the latest proposal could hurt the kids who stick with virtual learning.
“This is an inequitable situation created by the school board and Dr. Jeck,” Erdossy said.
Teachers also worry about the inequity of students in person versus students at home.
“We’re not going to settle for giving virtual students less of an education. We know it's going to be more work,” one teacher said.
With the plan now approved, pre-K through fifth grade students will start moving to four days on March 15 with secondary students set to follow in early April.