Northam announces expansion of ‘Virtual Virginia’ to support distance learning amid school closures

Education

Olivia Bucks, left, helps her son Keith Bucks, center, with an online class assignment while Ashton Morris, right, works on a handwriting lesson from their first grade class at Arco Iris Spanish Immersion School in Beaverton, Ore. Bucks works from home selling books online and now spends her time between working on her business and helping her sons with their school work. They are using her work laptop to access their classroom assignments. (AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer)

RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY) — Governor Ralph Northam announced a dramatic expansion of Virtual Virginia, the Virginia Department of Education’s existing online learning system, to allow every teacher in the Commonwealth to host virtual classes while schools are closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“While there is no perfect substitute for in-person classroom instruction, this is an unprecedented public health crisis and we must do everything we can to ensure all children have equitable learning opportunities,” said the Governor.

“The expansion of Virtual Virginia will help ensure that the closure of schools and interruption of formal instruction this spring does not lead to a widening of achievement gaps.”

Virtual Virginia content can be loaded onto devices for use by students in homes without sufficient internet access to support online learning. The expansion does not affect the more than 6,000 students already enrolled in one or more of Virtual Virginia’s 81 high school-level courses.

Monday saw the launch of the teacher-instruction “VA TV Classroom” via television.

Partnering stations include Blue Ridge PBS, VPM, WETA and WHRO Public Media

The teacher-led instruction is for students from grades k-10 and begins Monday, April 13. The shows will broadcast Monday through Friday from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. and will align with the commonwealth’s academic curriculum.

The teacher-led instruction is for students from grades k-10 and begins Monday, April 13. The shows will broadcast Monday through Friday from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. and will align with the commonwealth’s academic curriculum.

According to the release, the “VA TV Classroom” schedule is as follows:

  • K-3 instruction: airs from 1-2 p.m. with Standards of Learning-aligned content provided by WHRO Public Media. “Learn to Grow with WHRO” segments will be 15 minutes in length and led by teachers. 
  • Grades 7-10 instruction: airs from 2-3 p.m. with SOL-aligned content provided by WHRO Public Media focusing on Earth Science and Algebra 1.
  • During the week of April 27: “VA TV Classroom” will add a special hour from 3-4 p.m. called “AP Prep Week,” with content provided by Virtual Virginia — in collaboration with WHRO — focusing on a different AP subject each day. The hour will include two 30-minute segments.

The “VA TV Classroom” channel guide is as follows:

  • WHRO – WHRO World: via antenna 15.2, Cox 107 and Verizon FiOS 460
  • VPM – VPM Plus
    • Richmond area: via antenna 57.1, Verizon FiOS 24 and 524 (HD), Comcast 24 & 797 (HD), DIRECTV 57, DISH 57 and 9392 (HD)
    • Charlottesville area: via antenna 41.2, Comcast 265 (HD) and 1146 (HD)
    • Shenandoah Valley: via antenna 51.2, Comcast 9, 798 (HD) and 1042 (HD)
  • WETA – WETA PBS Kids: via antenna 26.3, Comcast 266, Cox 801, Verizon FiOS 472 and RCN 38
  • Blue Ridge PBS – SWVAPTV: via antenna 15.2, streaming services Blue Ridge Streaming and Project Southwest on YouTube, Citizens Cable 82, Cox 107, Comcast/Xfinity 264 and Lumos 17 (Shentel, Bedford, Covington, Glade Hill, Radford, Rocky Mount, Rustburg, and Wytheville: 157)

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