Parent shares concerns ahead of virtual start to school

Parent shares concerns ahead of virtual start to school

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - The road to reopening schools hasn’t been an easy one especially for parents who have to work while their children are learning virtually from home like Rachel Armstead.

“It’s either work or stay home and right now I can’t afford to stay home,” said Armstead.

Armstead says her parents have been able to supervise her five school-aged RPS children, two of which have individual education plans while she works more than 12 hours a day. But she says she kept up at night at the thought of how her mother will be able to properly supervise her kids when RPS opens virtually Tuesday.

“It’s a little rough because grandparents cannot teach the kids or help them on these laptops,” said Armstead. “My fear is that hat my kids won’t get the education they need at home doing virtual learning.”

Armstead, like many other parents, was hoping that the recently announced emergency childcare program from RPS would be operational by the time schools virtually opened Tuesday, but Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney says the program is still pending and will not be ready to launch at the start school year.

“There are a number of families facing barriers and obstacles because of the pandemic, because of financial hardship, we have to step up as the city and that’s what we’re going to do,” said Stoney.

The City is using 3 million dollars in cares act funds to begin the program at five modern RPS school sites including MLK Middle, Holton, Huguenot, Miles Jones, and Blackwell which will open its doors for some 500 students who have nowhere else to go when virtual instruction kicks off, with services being free for most families.

RPS created a Facilitated Learning Guide for community partners who will provide this service for our families and announced that it will be hosting a series of training to support them as they get started.

“I still think we are a couple of weeks away from that, but I know the city is moving as fast as they can now that they have the green light,” said RPS Superintendent Jason Kamras.

Mayor Stoney also announced this week that the Richmond Behavioral Authority will be offering support for children with special needs at one of the school sites.

Kamras has instructed principals not to give students new material for at least two weeks to give RPS time to work through the hiccups of virtual learning with the superintendent adding that the theme of the first week of school is on of low stress, high grace. Something parents like Armstead say her children will need a lot of as virtual learning begins.

“I got a couple of kids that have individualized learning plans and it will be much better for them if they are in a public school setting,” said Armstead. They love school they’re ready, but there are a lot of distractions at home.

Parents who don’t already have chrome books for their children are asked to contact RPS immediately so that they can be ready for the start of school Tuesday.

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