A Radical Proposal: Abolish Virtual Classes

by Kerry Dougherty

Since “following the science” is in vogue, there should be no debate now that ALL schools should be open for in-person classes.

Every damn one of them. Five days a week.

The science is clear and has been since last spring: COVID poses very little risk to children. And infected children rarely infect adults.

Parochial and private schools have been in-person five days a week since August in most places with very few problems.

There is no need to rehash the cornucopia of problems facing public school children, from mental illness to suicides to simply disconnecting from school altogether.

Yet this week in Portsmouth — a city with what the newspaper euphemistically calls “underperforming” schools — three members of the school board voted to keep kids out of class through the end of the year.

Luckily, for elementary school children, six others voted yes and they get to return to class.

On April 12th. For two days a week. After a year off.


A bold plan to include middle school students in the reopening was defeated by a school board that clearly doesn’t care about kids or science. As a result, Portsmouth students are doomed. They will fall even farther behind their cohorts around the commonwealth thanks to the bad decisions of government officials.

This has to stop.

We simply cannot allow fearful, superstitious people, who refuse to look at data or science, to keep children out of the classroom any longer.

If school leaders had any guts — and they’ve demonstrated over and over that they don’t — they would abolish the virtual option next fall. It’s cumbersome and cheats children who need to be in class with their friends.

Since when do the overblown fears of parents require the taxpayers to provide their kids with a remote option?

Ask teachers how hard it is to conduct in-person classes while also teaching virtually. The ones I’ve talked to hate it. The kids in the classroom lose out and the kids at home, well, we know what’s happening with them.


In the past, children who were ill or incapacitated in some way were given homebound instruction. But the notion that parents who simply watch too much MSNBC get to demand that schools provide remote instruction for their offspring is wacky.

If parents do not want their kids in the classroom, fine. Let them homeschool.

Professional teachers need to be able to teach. In class, to the children sitting in front of them.

It’s time to end the madness of virtual instruction before it becomes a habit and parents demand remote classes when there’s an outbreak of athlete’s foot or the seasonal flu.

Remote learning was a failed experiment. Follow the science. Scrap it.

This column is republished with permission from Kerry: Unemployed & Unedited.

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23 responses to “A Radical Proposal: Abolish Virtual Classes”

  1. vicnicholls Avatar


  2. LarrytheG Avatar

    I know this is from WaPo but it had an interesting spin :

    ” As schools reopen, Asian American students are missing from classrooms

    As school buildings start to reopen, Asian and Asian American families are choosing to keep their children learning from home at disproportionately high rates. They say they are worried about elderly parents in cramped, multigenerational households, distrustful of promised safety measures and afraid their children will face racist harassment at school. On the flip side, some are pleased with online learning and see no reason to risk the health of their family.”


    1. Stephen Haner Avatar
      Stephen Haner

      Yeah, but those tiger parents would make education a high priority no matter how the classes are conducted. That’s the secret sauce nobody wants to talk about, parental (or some other adult mentor) involvement. That’s what so many children are missing if not in the classroom with live teachers.

      1. Nancy Naive Avatar
        Nancy Naive

        Remember the infrastructure discussion? Watch and tell me that you kept a straight face…


    2. Nancy Naive Avatar
      Nancy Naive

      That and the skyrocketing anti-Asian racism…

      1. James C. Sherlock Avatar
        James C. Sherlock

        See the Fairfax County School Board and the “too many Asian kids” change to the TJ high school admissions. No tests.

        1. Nancy Naive Avatar
          Nancy Naive

          I was referring to the increasing violent attacks on Asians since COVID.

  3. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
    Dick Hall-Sizemore

    This is one of the times that I agree with Kerry.

  4. Hi James,
    I agree with you 100% (that was an A+ when I went to school) about reopening the schools. But I would caution about throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Teachers unions and structured, one size fits all, teaching have contributed to our failing children and falling school performance metrics.

    We have an opportunity to, for parents who are willing and able, to circumvent this outdated system. With 5G on the horizon and a Zoom et. al. infrastructure for meetings/classrooms etc. we could leap out of the ‘American Bureau’ model that, while it has served moderately well since the 60’s, is an anachronistic, big government, structure that imposes top down solutions to try to deal with classroom and individual student issues issues.

    My wife has taken on the role of neighborhood class administrator for a few parents whose children have been excluded from learning due to the WuFlu debacle. There are several classroom infrastructures that are available online that ‘school at home parents’ can utilize to teach children. The current online government programs that the school administer, are sketchy at best and completely useless in some cases. Too much for working parents to deal with. There are classes available for K-12 Pearson and Acellus Academy are the top two search results and Hillsdale College and Dr. Duke Pesta are the two I have experience with. If parents were able to take their tax dollars with them these programs are made affordable to everyone. They are accredited and could be made accountable for learning progress although I would hate to let Giant Government back into the education system that has failed so dismally in recent decades.

  5. Nancy Naive Avatar
    Nancy Naive

    This was a trial run. Better take this next break to perfect distance learning. The next one mightn’t be so nice.

  6. Stephen Haner Avatar
    Stephen Haner

    Oh, dear, but the front page tells me a Virginia kid under ten has actually died of/with COVID! That will scare ’em off another six months. For all we know the child was on life support for heart failure or renal failure and actually got COVID in the hospital, but the details will not be provided. Just the headline.

  7. Nancy Naive Avatar
    Nancy Naive

    Of course, we could all use our fireplace for heating and cooking too.

    For 40,000 years we had too little information and too few calories. Now? Just the opposite. As organisms, we’ve a lot of adapting to do.

    “Remote learning was a failed experiment. Follow the science. Scrap it.”

    What’s ironic is that here you sit a self-annoited distance-teacher, fingers poised over your electronic portal input device, imparting knowledge (of questionable value and sourcing [all internal in my opinion]) and declaring yourself a failure. Are you going to burn books next? Starting with any of your publications, to be sure.

    1. John Harvie Avatar
      John Harvie

      Do you have a family child struggling with it? I have two both physically healthy.

      A very bright 14 year-old in Tidewater VA who programs in Python and an eight year-old hyper active type in southern CA.

      And no, they are not POC. And yes, they have very diligent parents and family support structures. Each has his own personal laptop and good internet access. Their schools are excellent and in major metro areas.

      It’s just not working in some cases despite the support children receive.

      That’s unfortunately sort of a coast to coast indictment as far as I can see.

      1. Nancy Naive Avatar
        Nancy Naive

        Yes, but not as a learner. She suffered mightily in the shutdown and in-class is back for her. And, yes, in-class is better.

        Distance is not a failure. Distance has its place. A book is distance learning, is it not? Texas Instruments “Speak and Spell” was distance learning for non-readers — “The cow says ‘oink.’”

        It’s Kerry. Everything that is results from a micro-voltage lightning flash between her ears.

        1. John Harvie Avatar
          John Harvie

          “Distance is not a failure. Distance has its place. A book is distance learning, is it not? Texas Instruments “Speak and Spell” was distance learning for non-readers — “The cow says ‘oink.’””

          Sorry, but you lost me with your second paragraph. Zoom learning just is not working very well as a substitute for daily in-classroom work. Hardly anywhere. Is this a new concept to you? Seriously.

          1. Nancy Naive Avatar
            Nancy Naive

            “…not working very well…”


            Were there issues? Yes. But, this was a first mass attempt, emergent technique and done under emergency conditions. How many things work first time, every time?

            I took my first, and only, two-way CCTV class in 1995. The limiting factor at that time was video resolution. It was tough reading the chalkboard with the old 490-line scan, or whatever TV used to be. Again, I was 40, not 4.

          2. James C. Sherlock Avatar
            James C. Sherlock

            Give it up, Nancy, this demeans you.

          3. Nancy Naive Avatar
            Nancy Naive

            Not a technophobe, James. Did we make the Moon on the first shot? Wait, bad example. Maybe not so bad; it took ten years, White, Grissom, and Chaffee.

            As I said later, this was a practice shot. We better get ready for the next time.

          4. WayneS Avatar

            Yes. There’s a reason the successful one had the number eleven on it.

        2. John Harvie Avatar
          John Harvie

          “Distance is not a failure. Distance has its place. A book is distance learning, is it not? Texas Instruments “Speak and Spell” was distance learning for non-readers — “The cow says ‘oink.’””

          Sorry, but you lost me with your second paragraph. Zoom learning just is not working very well as a substitute for daily in-classroom work. Hardly anywhere. Is this a new concept to you? Seriously.

  8. Matt Hurt Avatar
    Matt Hurt

    Virtual Instruction is a genie that we won’t be able to stuff easily back in the bottle. It is not appropriate for many students (those that lack the necessary structure at home), but for some students and families it is a viable option. Region VII in Southwest Virginia just launched a virtual academy because they knew that if they didn’t, some of their families would find that option elsewhere.

  9. Nancy Naive Avatar
    Nancy Naive

    My suggestion, albeit half-baked at this point, would be to establish school-to-school virtual classes. This would make it possible for small school districts to have kids attend elective classes offered at larger schools while ironing out protocols. A class in Wise, Va. could be combined with a class at Thomas Jefferson, example.

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