DINWIDDIE Co., Va. (WWBT) - On Thursday, students returned to school in some of the areas hardest hit by the ice storm nearly two weeks ago.
According to Dinwiddie County Public Schools (DCPS), all seven schools lost power after the first storm, like thousands of homes in the county.
Thursday marked the first day back for in-person learning since that temporary closure.
“We were excited to be able to get the kids back,” said DCPS spokeswoman Christie Clarke. “For our elementary kids, this is two weeks since they’ve been here. Secondary kids, depending on their schedule, some right at two weeks, others a little more than two weeks because they’re going on a hybrid schedule right now for grades 6-12. They either have a Monday/Thursday or a Tuesday/Friday schedule.”
Empty hallways have been a common sight this school year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, for more than two weeks, they were bare due to mother nature’s wrath.
“Just to go out in the community, it is devastation, where trees are down, power poles,” Clarke said. “I know in my neighborhood a power pole was across the roadway for a week.”
Clarke said while most schools got their power back on midway through last week, there were still thousands of students and their families without power.
“While we’re set up to… if we had inclement weather, we could go virtual, but in this case, we couldn’t use that,” she said.
“Everybody that I’ve talked to is alright,” said Benjamin Jones, a Junior at Dinwiddie High School. “I’m glad the school got its power back, and we can finally get back to catching up because if we were out for this week too it’d be a lot more than two weeks of work.”
Meanwhile, Dinwiddie County is not the only school system to return to the building this week.
Lunenburg County Schools posted on social media Wednesday showing students back in the classroom; this being the first time since March of 2020.
However, hard-hit Nottoway County will remain closed until Monday due to ongoing outages.
“We had no idea that it would be this long,” said Dinwiddie High School Principal Robbie Garnes.
It is a sentiment many across rural Central Virginia can relate to.
“You kind of get a free break because school is canceled, but then you don’t have power,” Jones said.
That has not stopped some students from lending a helping hand.
“Our kids have been out helping people clean up their yards; elementary, middle, high school kids they’re not afraid to help,” Clarke said.
Now the focus shifts back to the lessons.
“Today is about re-acclimating our students back to learning,” Garnes said. “We had the pandemic, now the storm, so it’s really about making sure we meet their whole need right now.”
Meanwhile, some DCPS students will return to the classroom an additional number of days per week starting Monday, March 15.
On Tuesday night, the school board approved an updated return to learning plan which will go into effect through the end of the third quarter (April 2).
- Elementary schedule: Remains the same with students attending four days per week
- Secondary student schedule: Will begin four days per week starting March 15
“Virtual instruction will remain an option for students at this time as long as the student is making satisfactory progress,” a social media post stated. “For families who wish to change their choice, please contact your child’s school who will work with you to determine availability.”
Additionally, despite the school closure from the ice storm, spring break will remain as scheduled from April 5-9.
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