Seemingly smooth virtual start to the school year for Norfolk Public Schools


NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — It was the quietest first day of school we’ve ever seen. Public schools across the commonwealth started classes today, virtually.

10 On Your Side stopped by the Shiels house in Norfolk around lunchtime to see how the virtual system kicked off locally.

The family’s two children were hard at work with their Chromebooks and headsets in a guest bedroom converted to a classroom. Similar scenes played out around the country as teachers, students and parents adjusted to the new normal.

So far, no major hiccups to the start of the year for Norfolk Public Schools.

“It’s been amazing to see what the teachers have come up with, what the principals have come up with, and the schools,” explained Carie Sheils, the mother of a third-grader and a first-grader. “I’ve been very impressed with the level of organization. To have a schedule already set and Zoom links sent out, extra online resources. They’ve gone above and beyond answering emails and phone calls quickly. It’s turned out better than I was expecting.”

When it comes to virtual learning, Carie has the same concern as many parents and educators do. What quality of education will students receive in this environment?

“I think one of my biggest concerns is the ‘learning gap.’ You know are they learning at the same pace as they were before? Are they paying attention? Are they acting like the sponge they usually are? 

Only time will tell, but from what she’s seen on the first day, teachers are working hard to keep every student engaged.

Another issue families struggle with is how to manage at-home schooling with two working parents.

“It’s been a challenge. Today has already been better than it was in the spring. But any mom that’s trying to work or parent that’s trying to work, you have to juggle. You have to make sure one or both kids are doing what they need to be doing. You’re trying to stay plugged in to your career.”

At the end of the day, we’re all in this together.

“I think it’s just important to stay positive. You know, for parents and teachers to stay positive and stay patient and work through it. You know we are doing it and it’s all going to be OK.” 

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