NewsBack to School


Richmond School Board votes for a fully-virtual second semester

Posted at 11:42 PM, Dec 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-08 08:49:34-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- The Richmond City School Board voted Monday night in favor of a plan that will keep public schools fully virtual for the entire second semester.

The votes comes on the heels of a proposal last week by Superintendent Jason Kamras to remain virtual and a recent survey that showed 63% of RPS families wanted to remain virtual, while 80% of staff indicated the same desire.

"We're seeing daily reports of infections in the RPS family and I don't think it will get any better if we are back in schools," argued school board member Scott Barlow.

The impact that full school closures are having on students, including Richmond's special needs population, prompted school board member Jonathan Young to make a proposal over the weekend to open 13 schools in March to support in-person learning for special needs students.

The plan would have been contingent on the support from participating teachers.

"It's often heartbreaking to be rather blunt about it," Young said. "Too many times at someone's doorstep over the last several months, someone has shared with me how their son or daughter is experiencing real pain and anguish and often the common equation pertains to students with learning disabilities."

The proposal was quickly rejected by fellow school board members, although some voiced support of revisiting the idea in February or March.

Young's proposal did not receive a second motion for a vote.

School Board member Kenya Gibson argued that logistics would make carrying out a plan for in-person learning difficult for the 2020-21 school year.

"They are the most vulnerable students but their health and safety matters just like everyone else's," Gibson said.

After the meeting, Young told CBS 6 that it was unlikely he would make the same proposal to the new school board in January but said he would continue the fight for equitable education for all students.

"We're going to turn upside down and move heaven and earth to make sure our students with learning disabilities can be afforded access to the same quality of education, and once more, that they're provided the social and emotional support that they so desperately need and rightly deserve," he said.

Richmond is the only school district in the region that has decided to remain virtual throughout the entire school year.

Chesterfield and Henrico school districts plan to revisit plans for in-person learning at a later date, while Hanover County has continued to allow students to attend school in person since September.