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New school semester brings old struggles for Richmond County families

Published: Jan. 11, 2021 at 11:17 PM EST
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Tuesday is a big day for some students in Richmond County. Winter break is over and for now at least, no one will be returning to the classroom.

Over the next two weeks, all students in the county will be starting the new semester online thanks to COVID-19, and that’s putting parents in a bind. But others are finding help.

For a lot of parents, online schooling creates a lot of stress, especially when learning online wasn’t in the game plan.

“My wife has had a patchwork of different caregivers, found a babysitter here, we’ve had grandparents there, but this has been one of the really reliable places,” Richmond County parent Justin Russell said.

Reliable places like the Family Y which are offering a virtual school camp for parents who can’t stay home with their kids.

One working mom tells us without the program.

“I would have to quit work and stay home with her so that she could get everything she needs as far as doing her schoolwork with her virtual learning,” Lauren Sampson said.

And the Y says it keeps kids socializing in what’s been an isolating time.

“And they get to actually have that camaraderie that’s like being in school. Being able to have that social learning aspect,” said Tariq Robinson, Wilson Family Y associate executive director.

The Richmond County School System says about 60 percent of their students have opted to be face-to-face this semester.

For now, those 17,000 kids are online. But they’ve added more pickup days for meals, and expanded hours for their W-iFi program to ease the burden.

“The WiFi on Wheels buses will be dispatched from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., and from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. at a variety of locations across the community,” said Lynthia Ross, Richmond County Schools chief public relations officer.

And parents tell us they don’t take a space to learn for granted. And that’s good news, in a semester that’s just getting started.

“It has taken a lot of stress off us in a lot of ways,” Russell said.

To find the nearest location and instructions for connecting, visit https://www.rcboe.org/LearnatHome.

For families needing bus delivery of meals, the nearest meal stop can be found at https://www.rcboe.org/LearnatHome or by calling 706-796-4777.

For more information about the Family Y program, click here.

For more information about the Boys & Girls Club program, click here.

What’s ahead

All face-to-face students in the Richmond County School System are set to temporarily switch to learn at home instruction starting Thursday.

Based on the current data and advice from health officials, the school system has made some changes for students returning from holiday break — starting with virtual students, who will begin instruction Tuesday.

Ahead of all face-to-face students beginning learn-at-home instruction, schools will coordinate time for the students to pick up things like textbooks and resources as well as register and complete orientation at the open house starting today through Wednesday.

Teachers will support student learning during the learn-at-home period. Additional resources to support learning and instruction include tutoring, mobile Wi-Fi hotspots and digital learning supports. Wi-Fi neighborhood access points will operate with an expanded schedule daily from 8 a.m. to noon and 1-4 p.m. To find the nearest location and instructions for connecting, visit https://www.rcboe.org/LearnatHome.

Students will be considered present for the entirety of the learn-at-home period as long as all assignments are completed.

Meals will be available for school pickup or bus delivery. Parents can pick meals up from the nearest school kitchen every Tuesday and Friday between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. For families needing bus delivery of meals, the nearest meal stop can be found at https://www.rcboe.org/LearnatHome or by calling 706-796-4777.

For Richmond County elementary school students, the planned date to resume face-to-face instruction is Jan. 25.

Students in K-8 schools, middle schools and high schools will resume face-to-face instruction on Jan. 26.

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