Parents and school leaders react to school closure across Virginia

Local Coronavirus Coverage

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) — Virginia Governor Ralph Northam’s announcement to cancel all face-to-face learning for the rest of the school year wasn’t surprising to parents or school leaders but they say it’s going to be a process to work through on a day to day basis.

Sarah Gilliam’s career is an assistant professor at Mountain Empire Community College.

PREVIOUS STORY: Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam: Schools to stay closed through the end of academic year

Now, she has a new job- teaching her newest student- her four-year-old son, Nolan, who is in Pre-K in Wise County.

“We’ll work on something for 15-20 minutes, let him go play, watch a cartoon, come back- try and do things again and also try and do that around the schedule that I have to be online doing my work for my job,” said Gilliam. “So, that’s been a little time consuming and challenging.”

Miranda Mitchell is also working from home in Scott county and navigating how to keep her kids on track for the remainder of the school year.

“For us- it was just battening down the hatches and do what you can because I work full time. I knew they were going to extend it but I did not expect it to go all year,” Mitchell said. “So, it’s very unsettling because I’m not a homeschool mom.”

She’s worried that her oldest son will miss out on critical learning ahead of high school when grades start to count for college. But- her youngest son needs additional learning services.

“He gets speech services that again, I can’t provide this for him,” Mitchell said. “So they’re both missing out on things that they desperately need that are just out of my realm of capability. “

Dr. Keith Perrigan with Bristol, Va. City Schools echoed those sentiments when asked what his biggest worry was.

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“Just being able to ensure that students have access in an equitable manner to the resources that we provide,” he said. “We don’t want one student to fall behind as a result of this pandemic.”

He also said keeping a schedule and routine is helpful during this transition. But he also wants parents to remember-

“Don’t just focus on the instructional and school-based needs that our students have,” he said. “Also focus on the emotional and even spiritual need that our students are dealing with right now.”

Most school districts are using social media to post updates on the changes in learning as well as meal options and resources available.

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