SCCPSS discusses possibility of full return to virtual learning as COVID-19 cases spike

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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Savannah Chatham County Public School officials hinted at the possibility of scaling back hybrid instruction and returning strictly to virtual learning, as parents pleaded to reopen schools five days a week.

During a monthly Board of Education meeting Wednesday, district officials discussed having to readdress plans in the beginning of 2021 if cases of COVID-19 continue to rise.

Some parents at Wednesday’s meeting spoke out against current virtual and hybrid learning options being offered to students.

Amanda Reed has two students in public high school and got emotional describing the difficult decision her family had to make this school year.

“We had made the heartbreaking decision to move our freshman to one of the private schools in Savannah,” said Reed.

She decided to take her child out of Savannah Arts Academy next year and enroll him in a private school so he could have in person instruction every day.

Reed says the decision was hard on her and her child because she always wanted him to have a love for music, the same love she hoped he’d be able to better develop while enrolled at Savannah Arts.

“If you have kids who need that socialization, you need [it] to work,”said Reed. “They just need that face-to-face learning because that’s how they learn best. Then we should have that choice too.”

The school board hopes to continue with hybrid learning in January, where students are on campus a couple days a week, but the recent spike in COVID-19 cases has once again presented them with the difficult decision of returning to virtual learning.

District 1 Board Member Julie Wade posed a question to her colleagues about what exactly the plan should be if COVID-19 cases continue to increase at current rates.

“What happens Monday when we’re in the red in all three [categories]? Do we get a call like a snow day that we’re all virtual,” said Wade. “What’s the plan because we’re going to be there in the next few days I think.”

Meanwhile, parents like Amanda Barnes continue to express their frustrations with hybrid learning, saying it’s not enough for their students and takes a toll on working parents.

“It’s impossible for two working parents,” said Barnes. “Parents are having to put their jobs on the line to make sure their kids are in school and these e-learning camps are not educational facilities that we should fight to keep open.”

Both parents agree the health and safety of students and faculty is paramount, but stress the importance of having more options afforded to parents who don’t feel virtual learning is right for their child.

The board says they’ll monitor case numbers closely over the next two weeks before making a decision about the spring semester.

Documents from Wednesday’s Board of Education Meeting can be found here.

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