VIRGINIA BEACH, Va (WAVY) – Schools are closed for the academic year, leaving students and teachers feeling a sense of loss.
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam made the decision to close the schools in an effort to stop the spread of the deadly coronavirus. Now teachers and students are trying to navigate a new world of online learning and social distancing.
For many teachers, each year they build bonds and relationships with their students which can help them be better teachers. But the certainty that they will not be returning to the classroom this year is proving to be difficult in more ways that one.
It’s what Mauria Ganther calls her “new normal.”
“Teachers are tenacious people, and I think parents are really appreciating that right now. Not that they weren’t before, but I think they are really understanding that now,” she said
She has given up teaching a full classroom of kindergartners to simply checking in one-by-one via webcam.
“The school system has done a really great job with ‘Schoology,’ getting the kids connected and staying connected, and being able to see them face-to-face on a zoom application,” she said.
She teaches at New Castle Elementary School, which like all the schools in the Commonwealth, has been closed for the rest of the year.
That means keeping bonds she’s made with her students is more challenging.
“The poor little kids, you can just hear it in their voices you know, I miss you, and it’s heartbreaking,” she said.
The feeling is mutual on her end.
“You literally fall in love with your kids you know, so I’m dropping all professionalism. I love you, stay sweet, I’ll see you next time at our zoom meeting,” she said.
But without face-to-face interaction she’s worried for the students who may need extra help.
“That is why and I know I am not alone. I’ve reached out and I’ve called every single one of my parents and I’ve spoken with every parent at least two or three times from the beginning of this just to see how are you set up and what this is going to look like for you and your family,” Ganther said.
She knows it can’t be easy for parents who are also working from home or have other children, so she is offering some advice.
“I suggest that they do try to do a schedule but if they don’t stick to it don’t beat yourself up about it,” Ganther said.
She’ll miss being able to see her students move on but still has high hopes.
“That’s the hardest thing about this. The only thing that I can think of is that somehow someway we’re going to have a reunion,” she said.
If you have any questions about your child’s schedule or teachers reach out to your local school district or click here.
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