About 1,000 more Roanoke middle and high school students will be able to participate in small group instruction beginning in December, Roanoke City Public Schools Superintedent Verletta White announced Tuesday.
Students will attend a half-day on Mondays through Thursdays starting Dec. 7 through the end of the second nine weeks in late January. Families of students who have been identified to participate based on their need will be notified this week, said John P. Fishwick Middle School Principal Cindy Delp.
“I believe that I can speak for many in saying that the pandemic has forever changed the look of public education,” said Delp, who presented the plan alongside William Fleming Principal Archie Freeman. “While we have many students who are thriving in our virtual environment, we do have some that are experiencing quite a few challenges.”
About 500 middle school and 500 high school students will be able to participate in the expanded small groups based on transportation availability, White said, “and maybe a few more” if they walk to school or transport themselves. At school, students will receive intensive remediation and interventions that suit their academic and social and emotional needs, according to the presentation.
Middle school students will attend from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and will receive breakfast and lunch. Small group middle school instruction will include students who experience homelessness, are English Learners, have multiple identified needs, are considered truant, are enrolled in high school credit courses and are not making adequate progress, and who are identified by school staff.
High school students will attend from 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. and will receive lunch. High school small groups will include students who experience homelessness, are considered truant, are identified by school staff, were not passing five or more classes by the end of the first nine weeks and who were not passing English 11, English 12 and/or government by the end of the first nine weeks.
School board members said they appreciated staff and administrators’ work to get more students back in the classroom.
“You heard my plea and you worked it out, and I just want to say thank you,” said member Joyce Watkins, who had previously asked about increasing classroom options for secondary students.
While elementary schools students are now in the classroom two days per week, middle and high school students remain virtual, with some exceptions.
Chair Lutheria Smith said she appreciated division staff’s out-of-the-box thinking. “We thank you for looking at ways to get middle and high school students in sooner rather than later — those who most need to be in-person and get that assistance,” she said.
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