Mayor Stoney confirms Richmond Behavioral Authority as an emergency child care partner

Updated: Sep. 2, 2020 at 6:24 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - In a press conference Wednesday, Mayor Levar Stoney announced the Richmond Behavioral Health Authority is the first partner for the emergency child care services the city is providing for Richmond students.

Mayor Stoney says the RBHA is a long-time partner of RPS and the City of Richmond.

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Posted by NBC12 on Wednesday, September 2, 2020

RBHA will be operating child care with virtual learning support for children with special needs at one of the school sites.

On Monday following a school board vote, it was announced that MLK Middle, Holton, Huguenot, Miles Jones and Blackwell will open their doors for some 500 students who have nowhere else to go when virtual instruction kicks off.

Mayor Stoney says conversations are continuing with city attorneys to determine other organizations that can receive funds from the City of Richmond to provide care for children.

“It is important to recognize that our school administration has a huge burden on their shoulders right now - ’Reopen with Love’ is their top priority, as it should be, in this most critical time,” said Stoney. “However, the return to virtual learning and the need for supportive child care go hand-in-hand.”

The starting date is pending and will depend on RPS letting the city know when the school buildings can open.

Stoney says schools participating in emergency child care services will be adhering to CDC guidelines and not be held at full capacity. The mayor says the capacity will be ’drastically reduced,’ allowing for proper social distancing

“We wouldn’t be pursuing this solution if it wasn’t possible to do without absolutely ensuring the safety of all Richmond’s kids, bottom line, hard stop - my administration, alongside RPS, look forward to meeting these expectations,” explained Stoney.

Superintendent Jason Kamras says he is “thrilled” that RBHA will be partnering with the City of Richmond and RPS.

With virtual school starting Tuesday, Kamras says the expectation is to be “on screen by 9:15,” the time was chosen in order for meals to be delivered to more than 1,000 bus stops. Meals will be delivered from 7-9 a.m. daily.

“We want them to have a full belly when they start the day. Every family is eligible,” said Kamras.

Students will be provided with breakfast and lunch for the day.

Kamras says the theme of the first week of school is “low stress, high grace.”

“We have put in place some guidelines for the first week - there will be no graded assignments during the first week of school, no formal tests or assessments,” he explained. “I have instructed principals and teachers to begin the implementation of the new curricula during the second week of school.”

Kamras says the decision to not have tests or graded assignments during the first week is in order to “provide space and grace to work through the inevitable hiccups,” of learning virtually.

On Thursday, RPS will begin distributing “Reopen with Love” academic learning kits, they will be filled with supplies including headphones with a microphone so students can hear and be heard clearly.

To find the list of locations and pick up times click here.

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