Suffolk School Board votes to begin fall semester virtually; some students with special needs could attend in-person


Superintendent suggests student virtual learning- teachers report to schools

SUFFOLK, VA. (WAVY) — The Suffolk School Board decided Thursday night to proceed with a 100-percent virtual return-to-school plan this fall.

The emergency meeting started at 7 p.m. and include a multiple-hour presentation on safety measures, scheduling and other operational needs.

After the presentation, the board voted unanimously to adopt the plan, which puts all students — except some special education students and those with significant disabilities — on a plan for 100-percent virtual learning for the first nine weeks of school.

The students with special needs will be phased-in gradually starting at the beginning of the semester for face-to-face learning. They will not learn in-person for the entire school week, but will be physically in school at least some days of the week.

On Tuesday, ahead of the meeting, Superintendent Dr. John Gordon III shared a letter to families recommending a virtual start for students.

The plan adopted by the board mirrors much of Gordon’s initial recommended plan, but reduces the number of days staff will be in the school buildings from four to two.

Watch the full meeting here.

Gordon believes online classes are the safest decision for students and staff amid the increase in Suffolk and Hampton Roads’ COVID-19 cases.

On Fridays, teachers may telework.

We all wanted our students to be back in school in our traditional face to face model on
September 8, 2020, however it is clear that there are too many risks at this time based on our
evolving health information.

Dr. John B. Gordon III, Suffolk Superintendent

Gordon said having staff come into the buildings will provide a consistent instructional model that includes:

Gordon said teachers with pre-existing conditions, or those who are at high risk for contracting COVID-19, may work with human resources to plan telework options. 

Staff will monitor the health data and possibly move to face-to-face learning gradually after the first nine weeks. That plan is not set in stone yet, but Gordon said this is the best solution considering feedback from parents through surveys, emails and calls.

The Western Tidewater Health District, which includes Suffolk, has one of the highest rates of positive COVID-19 tests in the region, and is one of just a handful seeing a rising percentage. With that, Suffolk’s cases are up dramatically.

Stay with for updates.

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