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Remote Learning Through Watauga Virtual Academy Will Continue as Schools Plan Return to the Classroom

By Nathan Ham

After Monday’s unanimous school board vote that will send kindergarten through fifth grade students back to the classroom four days a week starting in March, families wanting to keep their kids enrolled in remote learning will have that opportunity for the foreseeable future.

Students in kindergarten, first and second grade will return to in-person learning four days a week beginning on March 8. Third, fourth and fifth graders will return to in-person learning four days a week beginning on March 22. All students will continue remote learning on Wednesdays each week. No changes have been made for middle school and high school students as they will continue operating on the 2×3 Flex Plan with two days in school and three days of remote learning.

For the parents and guardians that feel safer with their students learning from home, the Watauga Virtual Academy will keep operating to provide the best education possible.

“Our teachers who teach in the Watauga Virtual Academy do teach one grade level or focus area. For students who attend school in person two days a week, they will have their regular schedule two days and have three days of remote flex assignments,” said Garrett Price, the Director of Communications for Watauga County Schools. “There might be some circumstances where a remote student would tune into and watch a seated class being taught in person, but that’s uncommon.”

Price continued, saying “students enrolled in the WVA (Watauga Virtual Academy) will continue to receive remote instruction for the rest of the school year. We are actually working on continuing the WVA into the next school year as an online option for families who prefer it.”

While the return to the classroom on more of a full-time basis will initially start out at four days a week, Watauga County Superintendent Dr. Scott Elliott said during Monday’s meeting that if the four-day plan is successful without any major COVID-19 clusters or positive tests, a move to a traditional five-day plan would be on the table at some point this spring as well.