School Board Meeting - September 14, 2020

The School Board begins with everyone signing into the zoom conference call, with a few technical difficulties and mishaps understandably sprinkled within.

Two hours were allotted to reading over public comments, in which each was allowed 1 minute to be read before moving on.

The first set of questions were related to the renaming of Richmond Public Schools, a process which began around last year.

A few individuals spoke of renaming a school in honor of Dr. Lois Harrison Jones. She began as a classroom teacher at Woodville Elementary, who later became the first African American female superintendent in the Commonwealth of Virginia in 1985. She then continued to amass even more achievements throughout her professional career.

One parent also spoke of the need for more vegetarian offerings for their child. In addition, the parents asks for the the food menu to be posted weekly, at least so she can know whether the food items would work for her dietary needs.

A vast majority of the public comments were related to online schooling. One week has passed since Richmond Public Schools have opened, under the slogan of “Reopen with Love.”

One very common frustration amongst parents is how long the online school day is. Kids as young as 4 years old are being expected to be online synchronously from 9:15 am to 3:00 pm. Needles to say, parents find this far too long, with their children’s attention and focus drifting and fading as they stare at the screen. After all, even adults would struggle with so many hours online. They are also assigned online homework assignments, which further increases their screen time. If parents must leave for work, children may also not be equipped to work through technical difficulties.

In addition, parents worry for the development of their children, as they are not given the opportunity to be more active and move, besides the measly five minute breaks they are offered.

Given that, many parents were asking the School Board to instead have online schooling in the morning, from around 9am-12pm, and then have independent work for the afternoon.

Despite these complaints, parents are also greatly commending their teachers and RPS. The teachers have been fantastic at keeping their children engaged. Parents also thank RPS for planning and sorting through everything so last minute, as well as offering hotspots, Chromebooks, and headphones to families who need them.

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