School districts across southwest, central Virginia offer various learning models to keep schools safe amid pandemic

(WFXR) — Amid concerns about a post-holiday coronavirus surge, students across southwest and central Virginia are heading back to school in ways that school officials and families believe will keep them safe.

The following school districts have announced specific plans within the last two months with regard to students’ model of learning amid the coronavirus pandemic:

Alleghany County

Due to a rising number of coronavirus cases amid the holiday season, as well as guidance from the Virginia Department of Health (VDH), Alleghany County Public Schools extended the online learning plan for one more week, from Monday, Jan. 4 through Friday, Jan. 8.

During this remote learning period, school officials say they will revisit the current plan for athletic participation.

In addition, all schools will reportedly continue to undergo extensive cleaning while students continue to receive food service.

More specifically, during this remote learning week, grab-n-go meals will be available at various pickup locations from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for all kids up through age 18, according to Alleghany County Public Schools.

However, school officials say they have tentatively scheduled in-person learning to resume in a hybrid/blended manner on Monday, Jan. 11.

You can read the full statement — including the meal delivery schedule — from Alleghany County Public Schools by clicking here.

Amherst County

Even though Monday, Jan. 4, is a virtual learning day for all students, in-person learning will resume at Amherst County Public Schools on Tuesday, Jan. 5.

In addition, the school district says all school cafeterias will be open for student meal pickup, regardless of which Amherst County public school the student attends. More specifically, the elementary schools will have meals available from 10 to 11 a.m. while the middle and high schools will have meals available from 11 a.m. to noon.

Appomattox County

According to the Appomattox County Public Schools website, winter break will be extended through Monday, Jan. 4, in order to allow more time to thoroughly evaluate the effect of COVID-19 on the school population.

You can check out the school district’s schedule for in-person versus virtual instruction days by following this link.

In addition, starting Tuesday, Jan. 5, the dismissal time for students will reportedly shift to 2 p.m. each day. School officials also say the end of the second nine weeks of the school year has been rescheduled to Jan. 22.

Bath County

Bath County school officials decided to revert to virtual learning starting at the end of November with hopes of resuming hybrid learning by mid-January.

According to Bath County Public Schools announcement on Nov. 17, 2020, the county was in the high-risk category with regard to percent positivity and burden.

While Bath County has not seen any virus spread at schools due to the established mitigation strategies, school officials learned of the district’s first positive faculty case on Nov. 16, 2020. Not only did this positive case result in five members of the faculty and staff being quarantined, but it reportedly limited the pool of substitutes.

Bath County school officials say they are aiming to return to their hybrid learning model — which allows 85 percent of students to be in the classroom four days a week — by the week of Jan. 18, However, remote learning may reportedly be extended beyond that depending on the status of the virus in the community, as well as potential new Executive Orders from Gov. Ralph Northam.

Bedford County

Bedford County Public Schools says students will not start the second semester of the 2020-21 school year until Jan. 21, in order to allow more time for teachers to prepare the various learning models.

According to school officials, this delay will provide two extra instructional collaboration days on Jan. 19 and Jan. 20.

In addition, according to the school district, delaying the start of the semester will give teachers more time to get ready for the approximately 664 students who chose to shift to in-person, hybrid, or remote learning options during the second half of the school year.

You can check out the updated Bedford County Public Schools calendar by following this link.

Bland County

According to Bland County Public Schools, teachers will return to work at their home schools on Monday, Jan. 4. Meanwhile, students will continue virtual learning from Tuesday, Jan. 5, through Friday, Jan. 8.

However, Bland County school officials say their goal is to resume in-person learning four days a week beginning Monday, Jan. 11, but that will be determined based on the availability of staff.

For more information about transfers between remote and face-to-face instruction, you can read the full letter from Bland County Public Schools Superintendent Scott Meade here.

Botetourt County

Botetourt County Public Schools published an update on the second semester calendar on Nov. 20, 2020, indicating Group A days, Group B days, and remote learning days in order to allow students to attend classes on a hybrid learning schedule.

Click here to read the full statement from Botetourt County Public Schools Superintendent Jonathan Russ about the A/B schedule for the second semester.

Buena Vista

Buena Vista City Public Schools students are set to return to school remotely on Monday, Jan. 4, and proceed with that learning format until at least Monday, Jan. 11.

In the meantime, the school district says breakfast and lunch will be available for pickup at Enderly Elementary School.

Carroll County

Dr. Mark Burnette, Superintendent of Carroll County Public Schools, announced that all schools in the Carroll County division will change to all-virtual instruction beginning on Dec. 9, 2020.

In a letter released to the community — which you can read in its entirety by clicking here — Burnette says that students will finish out the semester with distance learning which will continue until Jan. 15.

At that time, the school board will re-evaluate COVID-19-related data.

In addition, the school district says free meal deliveries and free meal pickup will resume for all children up to age 18 on Tuesday, Jan. 5.

Buses will start delivering meals at 9 a.m. each morning and free bagged meals will be available at each school from noon to 1 p.m.

Charlotte County

As Charlotte County’s coronavirus cases surge and several public school employees enter a mandatory quarantine period, the school district announced plans to start the spring semester in a fully remote fashion.

According to Charlotte County Public Schools’ statement from Dec. 31, 2020. the current plan is for students to start classes virtually on Wednesday, Jan. 6.

However, school officials aim to resume hybrid, in-person learning on Jan. 19.

School staff will reportedly be available to communicate with parents via phone or email when they return to work on Monday, Jan. 4, 2021.

Meanwhile, the school district says you can pick up meals at any Charlotte County Public Schools school kitchen from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 7; Tuesday, Jan. 12; and Thursday, Jan. 14.


Even though Covington City Public Schools intended to return to in-person learning on Nov. 30, 2020, the school district instead decided to continue virtual learning due to coronavirus concerns.

However, Covington school officials say they are aiming to resume in-person learning on Jan. 19.

Craig County

The Craig County Public Schools website says all in-person elementary students will go to school five days a week starting the week of Jan. 4. Meanwhile, students in grades six through 12 are set to continue with their current schedule.

For information about the Craig County reopening plan, click here.


According to Danville Public Schools, based on the data from the health department from Dec. 30, 2020, preschoolers through third graders who chose face-to-face learning for the first semester will return to the classroom on Tuesday, Jan. 5.

In addition, the Office of Special Education and Adult Education has contacted the self-contained special education and adult education students who will return to the classroom on Tuesday.

However, school officials say all other students will learn remotely starting Tuesday.

“We will wait until the next report from the health department to determine next steps for students in grades 4-12 who selected face-to-face instruction,” Danville Public Schools said in a statement on Saturday, Jan. 2. “We will keep you updated throughout the process.”

Franklin County

Starting Jan. 26, Franklin County Public Schools says all PreK through 12th grade students are set return to school four days a week for the second semester, with Wednesdays continuing to serve as a virtual learning day.

You can learn more about this back to school plan for the second semester by checking out the school district’s Facebook live sessions in the coming weeks.


According to a Facebook post from Galax City Public Schools, the district will remain in the remote learning setting from Monday, Jan. 4, through Friday, Jan. 15.

In addition, school officials say daily meal delivery will start up again on Monday.

Giles County

Giles County Public Schools says PreK through third grade will attend in-person classes four days a week while fourth through 12th grade are set to resume their hybrid schedule on Monday, Jan. 4.

Meanwhile, starting Tuesday, Jan. 5, the school district will only make food deliveries once a week to the same locations at the same times.

Halifax County

Starting Monday, Jan. 4, virtual sessions — as well as normal meal deliveries and pickup — are set to resume for Halifax County Public Schools.

Henry County

According to school officials, due to the continued increase in community COVID-19 cases impacting schools, Henry County Public Schools decided to return to virtual learning from Nov. 9, 2020, until Jan. 19, 2021.

Highland County

The entirely remote learning model is set to remain in place for the rest of the first semester — until Jan. 22 — at Highland County Public Schools due to rising coronavirus cases among parents and students, as well as rising community exposures.

In addition, during this virtual learning period, food pickup will reportedly take place every Tuesday from 3 to 6 p.m.


Amid an increase in coronavirus cases and concerns about holiday travel and gatherings over the holiday season, Lexington school officials decided to return to 100 percent remote learning from the end of November until the middle of January.

The school district says K-8 students will return to entirely virtual learning from Nov. 30, 2020 through Friday, Jan. 15, excluding winter break.

Members of the Lexington City Schools community are encouraged to follow steps to stay healthy and prevent the spread of COVID-19 during the holiday season in order to allow students to return to in-person learning on Jan. 19.

You can read the full letter from Lexington City Schools about the virtual learning shift here:


Lynchburg City Schools announced on Dec. 17, 2020, that online learning would be extended for all students through Friday, Jan. 8 due to coronavirus concerns. Meanwhile, students who engaged in hybrid learning during the first semester are set to return to in-person learning on Monday, Jan. 11.

You can read the full statement released by Lynchburg City Schools in December here:

Montgomery County

With Montgomery County Public Schools set to operate at Phase 3, Level 1, students in PreK through sixth grade may attend school on the same schedule they had in December while most seventh through 12th graders will receive remote instruction.

Students are set to continue with this learning model from Monday, Jan. 4, through the end of the first semester on Jan. 21.

Nelson County

On Dec. 11, 2020, Nelson County Public Schools announced that school board members unanimously voted to proceed with the remote learning model at the start of the second semester, but they are aiming to start a phased approach for hybrid instruction by Feb. 1, 2021.

Meanwhile, small group remediation and tutoring, as well as the modified athletics program, will continue to operate based on the current protocols in place during the virtual learning phase, school officials say.

Staff are scheduled to return to their work assignments on Monday, Jan. 4, before students return to classes on Wednesday, Jan. 6.

The Nelson County School Board is set to meet on Thursday, Jan. 14, in order to review the health metrics from the CDC and the Virginia Department of Health to determine whether the February target date for hybrid learning is still safe, according to the school district.

You can learn more about this current instruction plan by reading the full statement from Nelson County Public Schools.

Pulaski County

Virtual instruction for Pulaski County Public Schools was slated to run from Nov. 23 until Dec. 4, 2020; however, a 50-percent virtual/face-to-face instruction was set to take place between Dec. 7, 2020 until at least Friday, Jan. 8.

According to the letter from Nov. 18, 2020, this change is due to an increase in COVID-19 cases in Pulaski County and a “large number of PCPS employees to have to enter into quarantine which had a detrimental impact on our ability to sufficiently staff our schools.”

The district’s goal is to be able to return to 100-percent in-person instruction on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays as early as possible in 2021.

“We do anticipate that Wednesdays will remain a virtual learning day for the foreseeable future to ensure that all of the processes for full virtual instruction are maintained in the event that additional shut-downs become necessary,” read the letter.

View a copy of the letter, as well as an updated schedule and closing information for schools by following this link.


Radford City Public Schools are set to have asynchronous days or teaching and learning from home on Thursday, Jan. 7, and Friday, Jan. 8.

However, Monday, Jan. 11 marks the first day of the third quarter, as well as the day students are set to return to a hybrid learning platform.

Roanoke City

Roanoke City Public Schools are reopening on Monday, Jan. 4, with students staying on the same schedule as before winter break.

Starting Jan. 25, though, elementary school students will continue on their current schedule and middle and high school students will attend in-person classes two days a week.

However, students will still have the option to remain entirely virtual, if preferred.

Meanwhile, Level 1 English learners and students with disabilities participating in the special education setting for more than 50 percent of their school day will be allowed to continue four days of in-person instruction per week, according to school officials.

You can learn more about the details behind these learning options for the third nine weeks of the school year by clicking here.

Roanoke County

Roanoke County students who are currently online learners who wish to switch to the in-person schedule for the third nine weeks of the school year will have until Friday, Jan. 15, to do so.

In addition, as of Dec. 18, 2020, Roanoke County Public Schools says plans are being developed so more vulnerable fourth through 12th graders can attend four days a week starting in Late January.

Rockbridge County

 Rockbridge County Public Schools’ PreK through 12th grade students were set to take part in a 100 percent virtual learning model five days a week starting Nov. 30., 2020.

The school district’s goal at the time was to resume in-person learning on Jan. 19, but the official return will continue to be evaluated based on incoming information from the VDH, the CDC, and the Virginia Department of Education.

Meanwhile, school buses are set to deliver meals between noon and 1 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays during the entirely remote learning mode, which is set to last through Friday, Jan. 15.

However, once students do return to school, PreK through first graders will return to in-person instruction Monday through Thursday while second through 12th graders will participate in a hybrid AA/BB model Monday through Thursday, according to Rockbridge County Public Schools.

Wythe County

According to Wythe County Public Schools, the 100 percent distance learning plan went into effect Dec. 7, 2020 and will stay in effect until further notice for PreK through 12th grade students.

Students will attend school virtually based on the current 8:15 a.m. to 2 p.m. schedule, but school officials say students may be asked to come to school for assessments, remediation, or other services. Here are the weekly expectations for students, according to the school district:

  • Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday: Students with internet access will attend each class through live meets/call ins and complete their assignments. However, students without internet access need to contact the school to discuss instructions accommodations, or complete all assigned work and maintain frequent communication with teachers.
  • Wednesday: Students will have the chance to attend live-meets in their classes, but assignments for the day need to be completed as assigned by teachers.

While Wythe County Public Schools is operating on an entirely remote learning plan, school officials say there will be no extracurricular activities, sports, or athletic workouts.

In addition, meal delivery or pickup will reportedly be available, weather permitting, from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. However, meal delivery — which will follow the Wythe County Public Schools calendar — needs to be ordered in advance, according to the school district.

For more information about this distance learning plan, check out Wythe County Public Schools’ website or Facebook page.

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