'Virtual Virginia' allowing teachers to host classrooms virtually

Superintendent Bill Husfelt sent a message Monday morning to Bay District School students' parents to talk about distance learning.(MGN Image)
Superintendent Bill Husfelt sent a message Monday morning to Bay District School students' parents to talk about distance learning.(MGN Image)(WJHG)
Published: Apr. 13, 2020 at 7:06 PM EDT
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Governor Ralph Northam announced on Monday the expansion of Virtual Virginia, the Virginia Department of Education's existing online learning system.

The expansion allows teachers in the commonwealth to host virtual classes while schools are closed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

According to the governor's office, these resources include a platform that enables all Virginia public school teachers to share lessons and activities with their students through June 30.

“While there is no perfect substitute for in-person classroom instruction, this is an unprecedented public health crisis and we must do everything we can to ensure all children have equitable learning opportunities,” said Governor Northam. “I want to thank our educators, school administrators, and superintendents for their extraordinary efforts to keep students connected and learning. The expansion of Virtual Virginia will help ensure that the closure of schools and interruption of formal instruction this spring does not lead to a widening of achievement gaps.”

The Virtual Virginia program will expand its offerings to include elementary and middle school content for children who will miss spring classes. The courses will begin in May and the new course content will be available to every school division that enrolls students and teachers in the program. The governor's office said it will be available at no cost to the school division.

Meanwhile, four public media television stations in Virginia are now airing teacher-led classroom instruction following the closure of schools for the rest of the academic year.

The goal is to help students in grades K-10 who may not be able to access other distance learning options due to a lack of high-speed internet.

The shows will broadcast Monday through Friday from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

The Virginia Superintendent of Public Instruction James Lane says the Department of Education has partnered with Blue Ridge PBS, VPM, WETA and WHRO Public Media to make this possible.

“I believe that ‘VA TV Classroom’ will make a tremendous difference this spring as schools endeavor to provide continuity of learning for students, especially in communities where online learning is a challenge,” Lane said. “This programming builds on the long-standing partnership between VDOE and public television to support teaching and learning across the state.”

The “VA TV Classroom” on-air schedule is as follows:

- K-3 instruction airs from 1-2 p.m. with Standards of Learning-aligned content provided by WHRO Public Media. “Learn to Grow with WHRO” segments will be 15 minutes in length and led by teachers.

- Grades 7-10 instruction airs from 2-3 p.m. with SOL-aligned content provided by WHRO Public Media focusing on Earth Science and Algebra 1.

- During the week of April 27, “VA TV Classroom” will add a special hour from 3-4 p.m. called “AP Prep Week,” with content provided by Virtual Virginia - in collaboration with WHRO - focusing on a different AP subject each day. The hour will include two 30-minute segments.

“VA TV Classroom” can be seen throughout the commonwealth on the following channels:

- WHRO - WHRO World: via antenna 15.2, Cox 107 and Verizon FiOS 460

- VPM - VPM Plus

- Richmond area: via antenna 57.1, Verizon FiOS 24 and 524 (HD), Comcast 24 & 797 (HD), DIRECTV 57, DISH 57 and 9392 (HD)

- Charlottesville area: via antenna 41.2, Comcast 265 (HD) and 1146 (HD)

- Shenandoah Valley: via antenna 51.2, Comcast 9, 798 (HD) and 1042 (HD)

- WETA - WETA PBS Kids: via antenna 26.3, Comcast 266, Cox 801, Verizon FiOS 472 and RCN 38

- Blue Ridge PBS - SWVAPTV: via antenna 15.2, streaming services Blue Ridge Streaming and Project Southwest on YouTube, Citizens Cable 82, Cox 107, Comcast/Xfinity 264 and Lumos 17 (Shentel, Bedford, Covington, Glade Hill, Radford, Rocky Mount, Rustburg and Wytheville: 157)

The WWBT-TV News Staff contributed to this article.

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