Virginia parents grasp reality, ramifications of school closures

The reality is still sinking in for many parents of school-age children in Virginia in the wake of Gov. Ralph Northam’s announcement that schools would remain closed for the rest of the school year to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.

“It just made me sad. My kids and the other kids around her won’t have normalcy for the next few months, and it was the first time that hit me with full force,” said Jennifer Nycz-Conner, of Arlington (and former Washington Business Journal reporter, on WTOP).

As for the decision to close schools now: “I don’t disagree with it, because it does make it easier to plan, and it’s the right thing to do,” Nycz-Conner said.

David Radomski, of Oakton, has three sons, including two in Fairfax County Public Schools. He said he was “a little conflicted about Gov. Northam’s decision,” although he understands the intent of the action is to limit community spread.

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“I personally would have preferred if they had kept the schools closed until May 1 or 15, and then done a reassessment,” Radomski said. “I think there are just too many unknowns out there right now to make a decision that far in the future.”

Stacie Campbell, of Prince William County, is the mother of two teen boys, and she said she agreed with the decision to close schools now: “It was better to do it now than for parents and students to have false hope that they would be going back to school in two weeks.”

The closure will require Campbell to make lifestyle changes. “I decided to temporarily relocate to my cousin’s house in Centreville so I could be with family and not cooped up in a small apartment,” she said.

Radomski said he has not demanded his sons to focus on the optional distance learning materials provided by their teachers.

“This is a really stressful and scary time, and I’ve just been using the opportunity to have a solid home and focus on what’s really important,” Radomski said. “Staying healthy and spending time together.”

The parents empathized with students, including high school seniors who unknowingly spent their last days in school with their classmates.

“A friend of mine who’s a kindergarten teacher posted something about how heartbroken she was that she wasn’t going to see her class together again this year,” said Nycz-Conner. “And I feel for the kids who won’t have those rites of passage and normalcy, whether it’s graduation or the prom.”

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a general assignment reporter with WTOP since 1997. He says he looks forward to coming to work every day, even though that means waking up at 3:30 a.m.

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