HENRICO COUNTY, Va., — Teachers and staff paraded for their students, social-distancing across Central Virginia a day after Governor Ralph Northam ordered schools to close for the rest of the academic year.
Seven Pines Elementary Principal Terry Mothershead donned a penguin costume as she rallied teachers at an empty DMV parking lot on South Laburnum Avenue Tuesday.
“I think we are trying to get used to the new normal,” she explained. “We are trying to make the best of a tricky situation.”
The Henrico Public School employees decorated their vehicles and made large signs.
“We know this is a challenging time for parents. They are home-schooling for the very first time some of them,” Mothershead said. “We are not leaving them behind just because the students are not at the seats in our school.”
Music teacher Nancy Nesheim held a “miss you” sign while her husband drove.
“We are staying apart from each other and that’s what counts,” Nesheim stated.
The chance for Nesheim to see her students after weeks of quarantine is bittersweet. She planned to retire at the end of the school year.
“I didn’t get to tell them bye. That’s what I don’t like that,” she said.
Amie Jones sat in foldable chairs with her daughter in her Sandston driveway waiting for the teacher parade.
“I think a lot of the kids have been down and they miss being at school,” Jones explained. “Thank you for brightening their days.”
Numerous Alberta Smith Elementary teachers and staff members honked and waved from their cars in Chesterfield Tuesday afternoon.
“This is all so much for these kids to take in and it was so sweet of the school to do this!! We will miss Smith next year!!” one parent wrote.
Families stood on the sidewalk waving as Longan Elementary teachers and staff drove by and cheered.
“I think they feel the love from our teachers and our school,” Principal Melanie Peugh said “We are there for them and they’re our number one priority.”
As parents juggle childcare and many students adapt to learn at home, the parade served as a must-needed distraction.
“We may be down for the moment, but we are going to be there to rally and support our community — be there for each other during a crazy, crazy time,” Mothershead said.