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Augusta County planning to help families with WiFi access, learning opportunities

All school systems in the state are looking to find the new normal after Governor Ralph Northam ordered schools to close on March 23. | Credit: WHSV
All school systems in the state are looking to find the new normal after Governor Ralph Northam ordered schools to close on March 23. | Credit: WHSV(WHSV)
Published: Mar. 30, 2020 at 6:18 PM EDT
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Schools around the Shenandoah Valley are working to figure out what the rest of the school year will look like, including Augusta County Public Schools.

On March 23, Governor Ralph Northam

in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

"It's unprecedented," Tina Kiracofe, assistant superintendent for instruction and technology, said. "We've never had anything like this, so just take each day one day at a time."

In the meantime, Augusta County is looking at the next steps to keep students learning.

'We hope to give them some of those materials, either online, or through some type of learning module, paper-pencil, maybe a learning kit, depending on the age of the student," Kiracofe said.

However, Kiracofe said they're aware of possible limits for families helping their students learn at home.

"Online access can be a problem in parts of Augusta County, we are working to try and find ways to provide alternate resources for students to use if they absolutely do not have WiFi access," Kiracofe said.

One solution they're looking at is mapping out the WiFi access in parking lots of schools, so parents are able to see which spaces have the best WiFi access.

Across the mountain, in Pendleton County, West Virginia, school officials recently

for throughout the outbreak to exclude outside access, but they will allow students and families, particularly in the Brandywine and Circleville areas, to gain internet access if they do not have it.

Kiracofe said they're also looking at hot spots for Augusta County families, although that won't be a solution for everyone in the county, since some places just don't have the access needed. Kiracofe said they don't expect parents to homeschool their kids, but to keep them learning however is possible.

"This is a great time for parents and students to read together, work on everyday math problems," Kiracofe said. "As we give them some of this work that they can be doing at home, to do that, as they can, as they're comfortable with. But it's also just a great time for kids to be able to choose what they want to learn."

Kiracofe said students had made it through a good portion of the academic year before the closure. She said they had gotten a little more than halfway through this semester.

Once students return for the next year, Kiracofe said they will be making sure students learn everything they should have during the missed classroom time.

Like in other areas, students who were on track to graduate will, and students expected to move on to the next grade level will as well.

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