Hampton Roads teachers, school districts looking ahead to new school year

Posted at 9:27 PM, May 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-21 07:02:55-04

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - Virginia Beach teachers are looking forward to whatever the new school year may bring.

Virginia Beach City Public Schools announced three possible scenarios of what the 2020-2021 school year could look like.

Birdneck Elementary School teacher Teresa Stewart has embraced teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I try to make my videos as animated as I possibly can,” Stewart said.

She's already looking towards next school year, hoping to be back in her classroom.

“To be honest, I'm a little anxious,” she said. “The best case scenario is we get to go back and get to be with our kids.”

The new year is also on Cooke Elementary School teacher Kaitlin Jensen's mind.

“We can't wait to be back together as a family,” Jensen said. “No matter what decision has to be made, we have to keep safety of the kids and staff as our number one priority in order to make sure that it's safe to learn.”

She's had to adjust to teaching remotely.

“It was a stretch for me from going to help kids with technology, to doing everything without ever seeing them really,” she said.

Former Hampton Roads principal Andrea Tottossy has worked with teachers across the country during the pandemic.

“How do you engage students on the screen? What kind of assignments can you give them that you can get meaningful feedback from them, electronically? And then, what tools can we use to measure student progress that they will have access to,” Tottossy said.

Other Hampton Roads districts are also looking ahead.

Norfolk Public Schools spokesperson Barbara Hunter released this statement:

The NPS administration continues to meet to plan for school year 2020-21. A re-opening that would be as close to normal as possible is desirable to many. However, at this point the school division’s planning is taking into account the very real possibility that social distancing requirements will still be in effect. If schools were to remain closed, many of the strategies the school division has put into place to provide educational services and other supports during the extended closure would be considered and enhanced, as needed, for implementation during the next school year. The bottom line is that the state of the virus will determine what the school division’s re-opening will look like. As you can surmise, there are many logistics to consider and the NPS administration will continue to work through those now and will utilize pertinent data and guidance provided by our state and local government officials and medical experts to make informed decisions.
Barbara Hunter, spokesperson for Norfolk Public Schools

Hampton City Schools Executive Director of Public Relations and Marketing Kellie Goral released this statement:

Decisions regarding the opening of the 2020-2021 school year will be defined based on guidance from the governor, the Virginia Department of Education, the Virginia Department of Health, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. We are actively planning for different school opening scenarios. We have established an HCS Reopening Task Force where members of this team are looking at details of how to reopen our schools to include but not limited to staffing, instruction, safety, operations, transportation, and visitor procedures. As we know, there is still uncertainty as to what the health and safety guidelines and restrictions will be in September. We will continue to work to ensure HCS is prepared and communicate with our students and families as additional information and plans are confirmed.
Kellie Goral, Executive Director of Public Relations and Marketing for Hampton City Schools

Newport News Public Schools Director of Public Information and Community Involvement Michelle Price told News 3, “At this point, we don’t have any scenarios for the 2020-2021 school year." Price added, "School divisions in the Commonwealth will receive guidance from the Governor and the Virginia Department of Education regarding school openings and operations. There are no specific plans in place yet.”

For Stewart, she said teachers will be ready for anything.

“Whatever scenario that we have to do, it's going to work,” Stewart said.

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