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How Dinwiddie Schools are working to address their 'biggest challenge'

Posted at 6:31 PM, Mar 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-30 18:52:20-04

DINWIDDIE COUNTY, Va. -- Schools across the commonwealth are now closed until the end of this academic year, but school systems are still doing their best to teach every student.

It’s something that can be difficult when everyone doesn’t has access to the internet.

It’s a problem that some local school leaders are dealing with.

"Our biggest challenge right now is definitely the internet access," said Christie Clarke with Dinwiddie County Schools.

Like many rural communities across the country, the Coronavirus shutting down school systems has created a unique set of problems for Dinwiddie County.

"Of that 507 square miles, about 60 percent of that does not have coverage and about 40 percent of that we do have high speed internet access too," said county administrator Kevin Massengill.

Initially the county offered information to parents on its website but the key issue is internet access.

"Not everyone can go online and download all the activities that we've made available" said Clarke. She added that some teachers living in the county don't have access to high speed internet.

Clarke says instruction needs to continue in some fashion.

So, the school system and county government are creating some options starting at all seven schools.

"So, we have identified one to two spots at every location where you can drive up and use the wireless. But it has to be on a device that is already registered here at the school" said Clarke.

She says students with county issued Chromebooks should not have any trouble.

The county is doing a similar project with the Ragsdale Community Center in McKenney, the Government Complex and East Side Community Center

"We're providing hot spot locations in those three locations where citizens are able to drive up, open architecture, so they will immediately be able to connect," said Massengill.

The school system is also working on a massive mail out for all 4700 parents of school aged children.

"There is a letter that says how learning with continue, starting after spring break, and we have some other things in the packet as well, suggestions for parents on how to talk to your kid during this time, our meal distribution will continue," Clarke added.

The critical area of concern for the school system and county government is they don't want going to a county hot spot to become an opportunity to car pool with friends and neighbors. They want parents of school aged children to continue social distancing, to protect as many people as possible.