Across the state, the effects of remote learning has had an impact on students. In Westmoreland County, teachers went the extra mile to make the experience as fun as possible for their students, but many students are in dire need of remedial instruction. It was after a vaccine update at the recent School Board meeting that Superintendent Dr. Michael Perry spoke at length about interventions.
“I was at one meeting with parents, and they talked about how several of them had children that would not sign into their chromebooks. As a result, we have children who have not taken advantage of the instruction that was offered,” he stated. “Public schools are themselves an intervention, because we exist to bring kids into a place where we can leverage resources, and where they can come and do better than they would if left to their own devices.”
While the situation everyone has been in may have made the possibility of these interventions a tricky proposition, Dr. Perry noted that some teachers have been making house calls.
“One of the things, and probably the most important thing, that our teachers have done is that when many were afraid to come to school, they left their homes and did home visits, staying in their cars or on the porch. A lot of our administrators and teachers have done an incredible job with home visits.
“Another set of conversations that I have had has to do with parents that called the school to let us know that there were many that wanted to help their children, but did not know how.”
To assist with that problem, many of the teachers and faculty created tutorials for parents, sending the videos out so that the parents could help their kids.
Deadlines have been another issue that the teachers and administrators had to tweak, owing to a plethora of reasons that prevented work from being turned in, including internet troubles. To help with that, many deadlines were extended, allowing the work to be completed.
The other major problem that had to be addressed was keeping the interest of the children, and if the anecdote Dr. Perry shared was any indication, that was a facet that several instructors had down to a science.
“They had to be creative, because they had to keep the children interested when the teacher’s not in front of them,” he explained.
“They had to be very innovative in the way they gave the information. I had the privilege of hearing one student laughing and kicking because the lessons were so entertaining. The teachers have used a lot of high interest materials to keep their students’ attention.”
The last method for intervention that was laid out was summer school.
“One of the common criticisms we get is that we just socially promote students and don’t take things seriously,” the Superintendent continued. “We don’t do that. We work hard with children, and the ones that didn’t do their work this semester are going to find out they’re not getting course credits unless they come to summer school and work.”
According to Dr. Perry, summer school is going to be critical to many students, and is slated to go from June 7 to July 1.
“This is going to be content-focused, not just enrichment,” he carried on. “Secondary schools and grades will focus on content recovered through the use of Virtual Virginia. Elementary schools will focus on reading, math and integration of other content. We have committees right now under the direction of [Deputy Superintendent Cathy] Rice that are working on the details of putting the curriculum and the approaches together.”
Dr. Perry is hoping that these rounds of interventions will help the students. He is expecting that many students will have to come to fill in several gaps, and expects all or most of the students that struggled with this year will attend.