By Cory L. Higgs
After Gov. Ralph Northam closed all K-12 schools in Virginia, many parents were faced with the daunting task of discovering online learning, and how to accomplish it.
Like many parents with an already full schedule, Kenzie Woods, principal of Hardin Reynolds Memorial School, added another full-time job onto her schedule; she is a mom, principal, and now a parent who homeschools.
Patrick County, as other localities in Virginia, is taking advantage of its online classrooms since its physical ones are under lock and key.
Woods, who is known for her lively morning announcements and student engagement, took to social media to share some announcements, along with some advice about home-based instruction.
For that, she relied on her own experiences.
In a recent morning announcement, Woods and her two children kicked off their at-home learning regimen showing others “how easy online learning is,” Woods said, adding that online learning allows parents and youngsters access to interesting information and cool games to broaden their horizons.
Like many, she understands that online learning is being implemented to “protect our neighbors and our families.”
Reports show that COVID-19 invokes more complications in older individuals and those with preexisting health conditions. Although younger people also may become infected with the virus, their symptoms may not be as severe. However, health officials have said a younger person can still spread the virus.
Woods’ children said they weren’t too concerned about the next few weeks, and are eager to stay at home and have fun. Her son said he was most excited about the lunch period while at-home-learning.
“The thing is, you aren’t just going to stay home and chill, right? We are going to learn,” she said to her children, adding that continued learning now falls upon the families to make sure kids stay engaged during the schools’ mandated hiatus.
While the move online will have plenty of roadblocks and hurdles, a lack of internet access may be the biggest hurdle for some families to overcome, Woods said.
Schools Superintendent Dean Gilbert said that instructional activities are posted online for those with internet access. School officials also delivered assigned tablets to youngsters who may have left theirs at school.
For those families without internet access, Gilbert suggested “old-school stuff, like practicing your times-tables” to help students retain learned instruction and stay in a learning mindset.
In addition to suggestions the division has provided, HRMS is providing material more directly related to SOL and state testing in hopes of preparing kids, Woods said.
“We will not be making significant strides towards growth, necessarily, but depending on how involved our families are, will be the most impacting as it relates to their learning,” Woods said.
The main goal is to maintain the learning mindset and avoid regression or plateauing, she added.
“This is uncharted territory for us, give us some patience, give us some grace, and we are going to be doing the same. Pray for me,” Woods said as her kids engaged in a wrestling match. “Stay safe, wash your hands and take care of each other, and we’ll be in touch soon.”
The school is slated to be closed through the end of March. Stay up to date with the latest COVID-19 news by visiting CDC.gov.