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Isle of Wight to let parents of elementary, middle school students choose plan; high school to start 100% virtually

The vote ended up in a 3-2 split. Parents of high school students will be given a choice between committing to a semester of virtual learning, or just 9 weeks.

ISLE OF WIGHT, Va. — The Isle of Wight County School Board decided Thursday to give parents some options for sending students back to school in the fall.

A release from the board said elementary and middle school students could either take a 100% virtual route for the first semester, or a blended learning option, where students would come to school two days a week and learn online from IWCS teachers the other two days. 

The students attending in-person classes would be staggered, with one group coming Mondays and Wednesdays, and the others coming Tuesdays and Thursdays.

High school students are locked in to at least 9 weeks of virtual learning at the start of the fall semester - but the school board said parents had choices to make in their education, too.

High school students could commit to a full semester of virtual learning, where some of their instruction might be from Virtual Virginia teachers. If they want to take the first nine weeks virtually and then see what the school board deems safe going forward, students would stay with IWCS teachers.

High school students with intensive support needs could choose the blended learning model available to elementary and middle school students.

Jackie Carr, the chair of the school board felt strongly about giving parents options.

"The best decision may be giving the parents a choice," she said. "Allowing them to make the best choice for their child. With the hybrid model, some children would go back to school Monday and Wednesday and others would go to school Tuesday and Thursday. That will certainly accommodate social distancing and support bus transportation." 

On the other side, Vicky Hulick, school board member representing the Newport District, voted "no" to the possibility of kids returning to the classroom anytime soon.

"At this time, I do feel that students working virtually for the first nine weeks is prudent," Hulick said. "If we're saying that we don't want our high school students to go back because we are concerned, why are the elementary and middle school students okay to go back for those nine weeks?"

The special meeting ended up with this reopening plan after casting a 3-2 vote, with members Hulick and Denise Tynes and dissenting.