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Asheville City Schools to stay with virtual learning

Asheville City Schools to stay with virtual learning
Asheville City Schools will remain all virtual for at least another three to four weeks. (Photo credit: WLOS staff)

Asheville City Schools will remain all virtual for at least another three to four weeks.

Superintendent Gene Freeman said safety is still a top priority for staff and students.

"The academics they’re going to be behind, but if the one thing we can say is that nobody died getting out of this," Freeman said.

Freeman told the school oard he couldn't recommend bringing students back with the way COVID-19 numbers look right now.

"The numbers across Europe are going up. We’re getting into flu season, which means there’s going to be some confusion about what’s COVID and what’s flu," Freeman said.

The district has been all virtual since the start of the school year.

Monday night's decision was not what everyone wanted.

"I understand that there are risks involved, but, having said that, our experience with remote learning hasn’t been that positive," Chad Stickforth said.

Stickforth, a dad of three, spoke for bringing students back during public comment.

"If we had found that remote learning had provided the same, or even 80 percent of the same, experience from an educational standpoint at home, then I wouldn’t probably be in the same position," he said.

School officials and board members agreed there are problems.

"We have some kids that have got to have some help, kids with special needs and kids that are flunking more than one course," Freeman said.

He said they will work on plans to help students who are struggling.

Freeman said they will continue to use their PODS, safe and free spaces for students to complete remote learning work.

Asheville City Schools statement:

"Good Evening Students, Staff and Families. This is Dr. Gene with a return to learn update.
As you know, my original intention was to make a recommendation regarding the second quarter during tonight’s meeting of the Asheville City Board of Education.
I know and understand that families were hoping to hear a more solidified response; however, the safety of our students and staff is my number one priority. At this time, I simply do not feel comfortable bringing back a large number of students for in-person learning.
Therefore, Asheville City Schools will remain with remote learning, at least through the next three to four weeks. During this time, we will continue to collaborate with Buncombe County Health and Human Services and monitor our local COVID-19 metrics.
After three to four weeks, I will make a new recommendation to the Board of Education regarding the remainder of the second quarter and our return to learn plans."

-- Superintendent Gene Freeman

Gov. Roy Cooper has given elementary schools the option of returning to full-time in person learning, starting Oct. 5.

ASHEVILLE CITY SCHOOLS ASKS PARENTS FOR FEEDBACK ABOUT RETURNING TO IN-PERSON LEARNING

In September, a survey was sent to each parent and guardian to get feedback on their feelings about students returning to the classroom.

Prior to Monday's meeting, Asheville City Association of Educators released a statement on the school system's potential reopening plans, including a list of demands for educators.

The lists includes N-95 masks for all staff, adequate ventilation and filtration, and transparent communication about cases, among several other demands.

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