Back to Learning: Faculty, staff make last minute preps for virtual start of 2020 school year

Back to Learning: Faculty, staff make last minute preps for virtual start of 2020 school year

HENRICO, Va. (WWBT) - With just four days away from the start of school for some of Central Virginia’s largest public school systems, teachers and faculty are busy with last-minute preparations.

Getting back to learning will look different this year, no matter where you live.

Chesterfield County, Henrico County and Richmond schools will return online Tuesday. Hanover County has some students returning to school buildings next week.

“I think you’re seeing a lot of dress rehearsals across Henrico County right now,” said Henrico County Public School spokesman Andy Jenks.

That entails teachers familiarizing themselves with the keystrokes and online systems they will be utilizing daily.

HCPS also posted “Help Chat” videos on social media to help parents and students navigate the online system.

HCPS Help Chats (6 of 6): Microsoft Teams In our final Help Chats video, we’ll meet the “mute” button and show you some...

Posted by Henrico County Public Schools on Wednesday, September 2, 2020

“School is definitely in session, it’s just looking a lot different than what people are typically accustomed to,” Jenks said.

However, these teachers also face a new challenge and an important one, creating those relationships with their students.

“In this environment where it’s a little more difficult to see someone in that face-to-face format, or it’s certainly not as easy to walk into the building and see who you need to see,” Jenks said. “It’s important to build those relationships from the start.”

Teachers have been finding new ways to meet with their students to make those connections.

“A lot of our schools at all levels are holding meet-and-greets, or ’beep and greets’ as they refer to them, where people can drive through and honk their horns and pick up some instructional supplies,” Jenks said.

However, school leaders realize, online learning may have its hardships, which is why some of the regular resources available in school will also be made available.

“We still have school who will be making contact with students and families,” Jenks said. “We have school resources officers who will be involved in the virtual environment as well, checking in on families and providing lessons throughout the school year.”

Comfort and safety is one of HCPS’s goal for its students.

This weekend new virtual backgrounds will be sent out for middle and high school students to use for online classes.

“It’s been really important for us to create an equitable and safe environment for our students,” Jenks said. “For many of them that might mean some level of discomfort in showing what’s behind them in the home environment or creating an environment that’s simply free from distraction.”

Additionally, HCPS has partnered with local groups to offer limited in-school child care this fall to essential workers and working families who need it when virtual learning starts this fall.

The YMCA of Greater Richmond, the Henrico Education Foundation and Henrico Police Athletic League have reworked their traditional after-school models to meet the needs.

The programs will be limited in scale and serve far fewer children to meet CDC guidelines. Students will be in small groups in dedicated places around the school, which will undergo “frequent intensive cleaning.” Transportation will also need to be provided by families.

For more information on resources available within HCPS, click here.

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