Charlottesville and Albemarle County preschools prepare for virtual start

Updated: Aug. 24, 2020 at 11:00 PM EDT
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ALBEMARLE Co., Va. (WVIR) - You can add most Charlottesville and Albemarle County preschools to the running list of fully virtual operations this fall. This comes as new learning strategies and acceptance procedures are put into place due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’ve got ‘Plan A, Plan B, Plan C,‘” said Carol Fox, the program coordinator with Bright Stars in Albemarle County. “You name it, we got it.”

Preschools, like every other school, are well past those plans. Now, it’s about how to maximize teaching while keeping kids, teachers, families, and staff safe.

In an interview with NBC29, Fox was asked how a three- or four-year old can be taught virtually.

“We wondered that too,” she said.

She said that teaching these kids requires different strategies.

“We are preparing and prepared to meet each family’s needs and those are potentially going to look very different for each family.”

In order to maintain equitable education, Bright Stars has plans to do telephone lessons, or deliver curriculum, if a family is without internet access.

“We are committed to meeting each family’s specific needs,” Fox said.

Albemarle County and Charlottesville also have new guidelines for enrollment as the pandemic has hit families across central Virginia hard.

“We’re doing our best with our community partners to understand how we can best meet the changing needs of families,” said Sarah Hanks, the executive director of the Monticello Area Community Action Agency.

The county announced that local eligibility allows for an income of 350% of the federal poverty guidelines if the family has been affected by COVID-19. For example, that’s approximately $90,000 for a family of four.

These preschools are taking non-financial factors into consideration as well, such as if a parent has lost their job, is an essential worker, or if the child has been negatively impacted socially or emotionally.

“I don’t know of a single child who has not been impacted by COVID,” Fox said. “Their lives are not anything like they were six months ago.”

If you want to apply for a preschool program, it’s not too late. Fox says they have openings at Bright Stars and will even work with your family regardless of where you are within the county or city - one the advantages of remote learning.

Preschool applications, and information on various programs, can be found at the links below.

Albemarle County Department of Social Services

Albemarle County Public Schools

Charlottesville City Preschool Program

Head Start Preschool Program

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