Virtual learning in Newport News: ‘We’re better prepared’


NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — Newport News residents will know soon how public schools in their city will conduct classes this fall.

One school board member says she’ll vote to keep students and staff home — at least for the first nine weeks — on the computer for virtual sessions.

Dr. Terri Best, a former Newport News school counselor and administrator, says, should the school board vote for such a plan, she believes it will go a lot smoother than the first time around trying virtual classes when the pandemic shutdown first began.

“I think this time we’re actually better prepared. We actually have technology in more students’ hands. Teachers are better versed as to different ways to implement instruction. Parents are also better versed as to assist their students. We’re more prepared this time than last time.”

So, what were some of the lessons learned?

“People can ‘bomb in’ on your Zoom meetings, so we had to take extra precautions. We also had to make sure that students were logging in.”

And what about technology? Some families with multiple children had to share one computer. Other families had none, but the student used a phone. And, some homes had no web service.

“This time, we’ve had time to make sure everyone has access to technology, everyone can get online and that type of thing, whereas the last time, we didn’t.”

Best wanted to thank teachers- some of whom she says worked long hours online — while off the clock — last spring. And some even visited students at their homes for what Best called “porch sessions” while observing social distancing. All in an effort to help — even with computer set up.

The Newport News School Board will meet virtually again next Tuesday, Aug. 4, to vote on opening plans. Also to be considered- what to do with cafeteria workers and bus drivers.

10 On Your Side will keep you up to date on-air and here online.

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