VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. -- What started as a two-week school closure mandate has extended until May 15 in North Carolina, ordered by Governor Roy Cooper, and for the remainder of the school year in Virginia, ordered by Governor Ralph Northam. The extended closure is in response to the growing coronavirus pandemic, also known as COVID-19.
School districts and their officials are scrambling to come up with ways to make sure students can complete their education. Virginia Beach City Public Schools and its superintendent, Dr. Aaron Spence, are among them.
"We will get through this," Spence said in an online video conference with reporters. "I want them to know we will have answers to their questions."
VBCPS and other school divisions made announcements they are looking for resolutions. Spence said he will coordinate with Virginia Department of Education officials to find said resolutions.
He said schools will continue to provide meals to financially-struggling families in the process and have a "corp" or case workers to work with families.
As for high school seniors who looked forward to graduate this year, Spence said, "Once we understand what flexibility we have, we can begin working with our school principals and our guidance counselors to make sure who's on track to graduate and how we can make that happen."
The first week since the initial closure announcement has now passed. Parents and their children spent some of that free time at places such as Mount Trashmore, a local park. Like school officials, some parents are also wondering what they will do in the next several weeks.
"I think we should all just stick together and stay positive," Heidi Bayliss, a parent of a Virginia Beach student, said.
She said she sees some disadvantages of her child not being able to attend school, but said she is confident there are ways to get around those limitations.
"We have good technology that can help the kids have resources for continued learning while they're at home," Bayliss said.
Bayliss said her child is a high school sophomore. She walked through the park on a cloudy Wednesday, as did Danielle Wilson, a mother of three, one of which is a kindergarten student.
"It's hard to believe it's been one week," Wilson said. "It's felt like way longer."
Wilson said her kindergarten teacher is making sure her students continue their education from home.
"They were helpful and prepared us with school work, they sent the kids home with school work," Wilson said. "Then they texted us and let us that they'll get in touch with us about further work."
Right now, VBCPS and other school divisions said they plan to release more information to parents and students soon.