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How this nonprofit is preparing parents and students for virtual learning

Posted at 6:59 PM, Jul 21, 2020

RICHMOND, Va. -- As Central Virginia school districts unveil their plans for reopening in the fall, virtual learning is taking front and center for thousands of students.

The Richmond School Board approved virtual learning for the first semester of the school year. Monday, the Chesterfield County School Board followed suit, approving virtual learning this fall.

Chesterfield mom, Sonia Smith, who is also president of the Chesterfield Education Association, knows keeping kids on task with school lessons during the pandemic has been a tall order.

"Everybody still remembers what it looked like on March 16 to June. It was hard. None of us were really prepared for the rigors of distance learning," said Smith.

Now, as parents think about preparing their students again for virtual learning, there's anxiety over how to navigate it all.

Some wonder what options are out there to help.

A group of high schoolers from the Maggie Walker Governor's School is stepping up to be a lifeline for parents and their elementary and middle school kids who need an extra boost.

"Critics of summer break say students forget a lot in a three month break. So, just imagine what will happen in a five month break," said Adriel Barretto.

Barretto volunteers with Ace Prep, a nonprofit that's offering free online tutoring through the summer and into the school year, if necessary to lighten the load for parents.

"In the daytime, they are focused on work and they don't have the time to say OK, we`ll sit and we`ll tutor you. That's what we hope for parents, is that we will get their kids ahead and we'll take that one hour and teach them and you'll know that they're learning," said Barretto.

The rising senior at Maggie Walker says Ace Prep's original focus centered around tutoring George Wythe and Thomas Jefferson High School students for the SAT.

They're now offering one hour virtual tutoring sessions free for students in grades 3-8.

It's not only a boost for the students receiving the help, but also for volunteers who just want to make a difference as students all over try to adjust to this new normal.

"We're hoping for them, they're getting confident and can do well in school because of this tutoring. For us, it's that sense of pride that we are helping the community," Barretto added.