The COVID-19 pandemic has left us with more questions than answers as we have been faced with near-daily uncertainties. In an effort to relieve parents’ anxieties about their children’s public school future, administrators and principals of Franklin County Public Schools hosted a Facebook live event April 25.
Sue Rogers, the school system’s assistant superintendent, told the more than 600 viewers watching the event that there were three scenarios the school system was exploring for the immediate future. Should Gov. Ralph Northam allow the stay-at-home order to expire June 10, she said summer school would be open for students who need to retake a class because of a failing grade.
If summer school gets canceled, Rogers said schools would prepare instead to open for the new school year in August. Another possibility is that schools could open later than previously scheduled.
“We don’t have an answer of what’s going to happen with the virus and with the social distancing rules, so we’re going to be relying on the (Virginia) Department of Health, the governor and the (Virginia) Department of Education to advise us in that area, but we will be planning for all three,” Rogers said.
No doubt this will be a challenge for teachers, administrators and students. But given what they’ve already faced, they should be ready for whatever might come their way.
Since March 13 when schools closed, teachers have been working tirelessly to ensure their students have the resources they need to continue their learning — from teaching via Google Classroom to loaning Chromebooks to students who don’t have access to the internet.
During the forum, Franklin County Schools Superintendent Mark Church summed it up best when he said, “We have an awesome teaching staff, but also we have an awesome support staff that have been able to really work hard to make sure we have had the continuity of instruction.”
Acknowledging that graduation is not only a rite of passage for graduating high school seniors, but also one of the bigger events for Franklin County, FCHS Principal Jon Crutchfield pledged that a physical graduation would take place.
“I think it’s a vital event for our seniors and I truly do believe we owe it to the class of 2020 to provide a graduation ceremony,” Crutchfield said. “I don’t know what that will look like, but certainly we’re looking at a summer event.”
Crutchfield is on point. Even with all the expense and hard work that goes into putting an event like graduation together, these seniors deserve to have at least that lasting memory. Plus, it’ll give students one final chance to say goodbye to their teachers before embarking on the next phase of their life’s journey.
Other topics discussed during the hourlong forum included school nutrition—food service coordinator Heather Snead said she anticipated the feeding program would continue until May 20 and possibly through the summer—and students’ mental health. Christina Gibson, the school psychologist at FCHS, reassured parents and students that resources are available.
While nothing is ever 100% perfect, the dedication of these professionals to our children was certainly evident from events like this one. For that, we say thank you.