Superintendents weigh in following Gov. Northam’s decision to end school year


(WRIC) — It started as a two-week closure for many Virginia school districts amid coronavirus concerns. On Monday, effective immediately, Gov. Ralph Northam canceled the remainder of the academic year, leaving teachers heartbroken, families scrambling and Virginians wondering ‘what’s next?’

“This is definitely uncharted territory,” said Richmond Public Schools’ Superintendent Jason Kamras. “There’s no playbook for this.”

8News spoke with Kamras after the news that all public and private schools in Virginia were shutting down indefinitely to fight the spread of COVID-19. Kamras admits that school districts were caught off guard — and now, more questions remain than answers.

“What will happen with my child’s grades? Will my child have to repeat a grade?” Kamras asked. “All of these are really valid, really important questions that are causing a great deal of concern and anxiety for our families. Tomorrow [Tuesday, March 24] the Virginia Department of Education will be putting out guidance which will help us answer those questions.”

Another concern? How does the suspension of school affect impending graduations?

“Right now, it does not appear that we will be having graduation ceremonies for all of the obvious reasons around social distancing, but we’re going to try to think through if that is the case, do we have to reschedule ceremonies sometime in the fall?” Kamras said. “Do we do something virtual? A lot of our students work very, very hard to get to graduation and we want to make sure we celebrate them for that achievement.”

Hanover County Public School’s Superintendent Dr. Michael Gill sent the following message to 8News, saying: “In the coming days, weeks, and months, we ask for your continued patience, kindness, and understanding as we navigate this new territory together.”

Chesterfield County Superintendent Dr. Merv Daugherty is asking families for their help in creating childcare plans as needed in response to the school year ending. Dr. Daugherty adds that families should be “remembering health experts’ and the governor’s guidance that individuals should remain at home and within groups of fewer than 10 people when at all possible during this health crisis.”

Petersburg and Dinwiddie County Public Schools say they realize challenging times are present as a result of the coronavirus. Closures have posed new problems for families, mainly, how to make the transition from in-school learning to online and at-home learning.

Henrico County Schools Superintendent Amy Cashwell addressed her district’s kids, parents, and staff, saying she is still processing the decision.

“Like you, I am stunned and saddened,” she said, “to be seeing those words become a reality. “


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