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Richmond teachers, families prep for in-person school year

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Posted at 8:32 PM, Jul 24, 2021

RICHMOND, Va. -- Richmond Public Schools (RPS) staffers are working to help families get ready for a return to in-person learning this fall with a series of back-to-school fairs.

RPS kicked off "Summer Fest," a series of event to help families prepare for the return to in-person learning this fall, on the grounds of MLK Middle School Saturday.

Nicole Jones, who represents the 9th District on the Richmond School Board, said the goal of the event is to let parents and students know they are supported.

"Whatever they need, providing resources, answer any questions," Jones explained.

Students like Savion, Javion and Nevaeh Nicholson are looking forward to going back to school since RPS was predominantly virtual for the past school year.

"I could actually make new friends and do different things in middle school and have the actual experience," Nevaeh said.

Boushall Middle School Principal Latonya Waller is also excited about the new school year. She missed who she calls her scholars.

"You get your energy from your students, you get your energy from having them in your classrooms, from being in the hallways in the cafeterias, just all of those great interactions," Waller said.

Her staff have been game planning throughout the summer for the return, Waller said.

"We're going to make sure that we address the learning loss that we know that has occurred over the pandemic," she said. "And just again, making sure that not only are scholars but their families also feel very comfortable."

Corey Lynch, a father of a rising fourth-grader, said the family's current plan is for in-person. However, he said he will be watching what happens with COVID between now and the start of the school year.

"I know the new variant," Lynch said. "I know he can't get a vaccine because he's so young. I'm not quite 100% on it, to be honest."

Lynch said he supports RPS' decision to mandate masks for everyone regardless of vaccination status. That is something that goes further than recommendations made by the state this week, when Gov. Ralph Northam announced schools would have the final say going forward.

Jones agrees with the call and said it and the other preventative measures administrators will have in place are meant to keep young people safe.

"In order to do that, you start with a caution," Jones explained. "You don't just jump out and say, 'Oh, we're going to do this.' You start with for questions, and then you make adjustments as you progress."

Another event is scheduled for next Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Broad Rock Sports Complex.

Additionally, the school system will hosting what it is calling the "RPS Love Parade" on Aug. 21. But specific details about that event have not yet been announced.