RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY) — Virginia Superintendent of Public Instruction James Lane announced on Tuesday the formation of leaders to assess the needs of students and support schools as they implement Gov. Ralph Northam’s directive to provide in-person instruction options for students by March.

The group, coined ‘Virginia LEARNS (Leading, Engaging, Assessing, Recovering, Nurturing and Succeeding) Workgroup,’ consists of educators, school administrators, mental health professionals, parents, and leaders of community organizations.

They hope to develop recommendations, identify resources and find the best practices for remediation and intervention strategies, assessments, data analysis, and technology to support instruction.

Lane also has the group working to learn how to help students, families and school employees whose mental health has been impacted by of the coronavirus pandemic.

“I want to thank the members of the Virginia LEARNS workgroup for accepting the challenge of helping the commonwealth’s public schools navigate these extraordinary circumstances and meet the needs of students, especially those who have fallen behind while their schools have been unable to provide in-person instruction and support services,” Lane said.

Local officials taking leadership roles in the workgroup include Chesapeake Superintendent Jared Cotton and Newport News Public Schools Chief of Staff Rashard Wright.

“The workgroup members bring a diverse set of perspectives and experiences to the table,” Lane said. “All regions of the commonwealth are represented. There are members from urban, rural and suburban divisions. And there are representatives of school divisions that have safely provided in-person instruction during most or all of the current school year while overcoming the challenges of COVID-19.

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