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Virtual learning in Franklin schools to continue for semester’s remainder

FRANKLIN

The Franklin City Public School Board on Thursday decided to continue virtual learning through the entire first semester, which ends Jan. 28, 2021. This past August, the members unanimously voted to start classes at 100% virtual learning for the first nine weeks, which ends Nov. 5, and agreed to later review about returning to classes in person.

The vote earlier this evening follows a week after FCPS Superintendent Dr. Tamara Sterling led a webinar about returning to school on a hybrid model. During that program, Western Tidewater Health Director Dr. Todd Wagner updated the viewers on the COVID-19 pandemic situation in Franklin. Afterward, participants were able to complete a survey about whether they’re OK with students in grades Pre-K through 2nd grade returning to in-person instruction Mondays through Thursdays.

FCPS spokeswoman Cleo-Symone Scott stated in an announcement to media that of the 122 community members who responded to the survey, 70% said they did not recommend the Board approve returning to school for Pre-K to second grade. That same percent also said they would not send their children back to school even if the Board decided on reopening. For the Pre-K-2nd grade staff survey, 16 employees responded, and 88% said they would prefer to work from home if that option was extended to them.

Wagner was also at the Thursday meeting to make sure all involved had accurate information on the COVID-19 pandemic in order to make a decision.

Sterling recommended the aforementioned continuance of virtual learning based on the survey results, school calendar, COVID-19 situation in Franklin and surroundings. The cold and flu season, building ventilation and high-risk employees and students are other factors.

During its work session on Jan. 29, the board will re-evaluate the idea of re-opening for in-person instruction.

Carrie Johnson, member At-Large, said how stellar the virtual teaching has been thus far.

“From first-hand experience at the high school level, these classes that I have seen mirror that of any online learning that I have taken in higher education from universities that are accredited for online learning,” said Johnson.

FCPS Board Chairwoman Amy Phillips said, “Teachers have been very diligent working with students. They have been very understanding.”

She continued, “Communication is key to making this process work. Reach out if you or your child need help.”