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The Daily Progress - The Cheat Sheet
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Cheat Sheet | March 24, 2020

Good afternoon and welcome to the latest edition of the Cheat Sheet, all focused on how schools have been responding to the COVID-19 pandemic that’s upending life.

Every time I’ve tried to write this newsletter, which is officially a year old, the news kept changing. First schools were preparing for the virus, then they were taking a day off to plan, and then Gov. Ralph Northam closed all schools for two weeks. And yesterday came the final nail in this school year’s coffin: Northam shut schools down for the rest of the academic year, though learning could continue online

“School division leaders will decide how students can learn the information they were meant to cover for the remainder of the year,” Northam said at a press conference Monday. 

In the meantime, school divisions are working through guidance and planning their next steps. 

“As my email inbox and conversations with students, parents, employees and neighbors demonstrate every single day, our schools play a vital role in the life and well-being of our community,” Albemarle County superintendent Matt Haas wrote. “That will not change.”

We’re in for a tough few months, at least, and it’s been a surreal few weeks, watching favorite restaurants shutter and the Las Vegas Strip (my hometown) empty out. I’m finding joy in moments with Lois, the cat, watching new TV shows, walks outside, and seeing how the Charlottesville community is rallying together. 

 

How are you coping with the COVID-19 disruptions? Let me know at kknott@dailyprogress.com.

Connecting with students amid the shut down

Teachers aren’t letting the fact schools are closed keep them from working with students. Through online videos, Facebook groups, learning packets and Google Docs, teachers and schools are sharing resources and activities with students. 

Although divisions don’t have immediate plans to teach new lessons online, they are focused on engaging students with review assignments and activities. 

Charlottesville City Schools said its goal during the closure is to maintain relationships between schools and families and to encourage students to continue — and to enjoy — learning.

“Routine is so important,” said Shannon Gillikin, a kindergarten teacher at Jackson-Via Elementary School. “For a lot of kids, school is a safe space and somewhere they have adults loving them, and that was taken away from them.

My story has a lot more on what the Charlottesville and Albemarle school divisions are doing to connect with students during the first week of the closure.

Local schools are handing out free meals to ensure students don’t go hungry. In the first week, nearly 8,000 meals were distributed.

The Daily Progress team has been working hard to cover all angles of the coronavirus pandemic and the ramifications of the disruptions throughout the community. You can read all our stories here.


A look back at a rollercoaster two weeks

March 9: UVa imposes new travel restrictions; ACPS unveils contingency plans

March 12: Albemarle, Charlottesville declare local emergencies; schools cancel class March 16

March 13: Area schools brace for two-week closure

March 23: Northam cancels rest of school year

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Quick hits

Other Local Stories related to the virus 

Coping with the outbreak by taking Lois for a walk in her new stroller.

Non-virus related articles from last month

In and Around the Commonwealth

  • Justin Mattingly at the Richmond Times-Dispatch ran down some tips for parents now homeschooling their kids.

  • From The Virginian Pilot: For children with special needs, the coronavirus school shutdown poses even bigger challenges

  • Sara Gregory at the Pilot wrote about how students, teachers and parents are coping with the crisis

  • From The Roanoke Times, how bus drivers, food managers and counselors are ensuring students get fed during school closures

  • More from Roanoke, how parents are adapting to the school closures

  • Bucking a national trend, Liberty University is not sending students home for the semester even as classes have moved online. The News & Advance has more.

  • What did the first day of a near-national school shut down look like? The fine folks at Chalkbeat have this snapshot.

  • And Education Week puts the last week into context. “The unprecedented shutdown of public and private schools in dozens of states last week has illuminated one easily forgotten truism about schools: They are an absolute necessity for the functioning of civic culture, and even more fundamentally than that, daily life.”

Quick hits

Coping with the outbreak by taking Lois for a walk in her new stroller.

On Deck

  • The Albemarle County School Board is meeting virtually Thursday, starting at 6:30 pm. You can watch a live stream of the meeting here:

http://streaming.k12albemarle.org/ACPS/player.htm?xml/schoolboard.xml​ 

Who knows what else will happen? Any story ideas or something you think I should work on? Email me at kknott@dailyprogress.com or call/text (434) 422-7398.

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