Henrico schools superintendent recommends virtual learning for start of school year

Henrico schools superintendent recommends virtual learning for start of school year
Cashwell’s public announcement comes in advance of the Henrico County School Board’s Thursday meeting to hold a formal vote on the recommendation. (Source: HCPS)

HENRICO, Va. (WWBT) - Henrico County Public Schools Superintendent Amy Cashwell announced the recommendation to go fully virtual at the start of the 2020-2021 school year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cashwell’s public announcement comes in advance of the Henrico County School Board’s Thursday meeting to hold a formal vote on the recommendation.

The school district says the virtual approach will be in place for at least the first nine weeks of the school year, which will begin on Sept. 8.

“As heartbreaking as it would be to not see all our students in person on Sept. 8, it is clear to me that this is the most prudent recommendation at this time, based on evolving health information,” Cashwell said in messages to HCPS employees and student households.

Henrico County Public Schools say they will continue to work with health experts to evaluate pandemic conditions in Virginia and the Richmond region, and regularly assess the feasibility of incorporating in-person attendance for students and staff members.

“For months, we have known that a virtual option would be included for the 2020-2021 school year and our staff members have been working long hours to create a redesigned, developmentally appropriate experience that is rich, structured, robust and graded,” Superintendent Cashwell said.

Cashwell gave more information on her recommendation in a video posted to the district’s Youtube channel and social media.

While HCPS had already decided to make fully virtual attendance one option for the 2020-21 school year, the school division also considered starting the year with pathways that included in-person attendance.

The school division also looked at the feasibility of allowing students to attend school in person five days a week.

A hybrid model would combine some rotating in-person attendance with virtual learning.

Depending on health and safety conditions, in-person options may be incorporated later in the school year.

All would include social distancing and rigorous safety protocols as recommended by health experts.

The School Board will vote on Cashwell’s recommendation at a Thursday in-person meeting, scheduled for noon at New Bridge Learning Center in eastern Henrico County.

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