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Updated Shamrock the Block and Church Hill Irish Festival are Postponed

The two largest St. Patrick Day related festivals are taking different approaches to the threat of COVID-19.

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Update 11:00 AM 2/12 Shamrock the Block is throwing in the towel as well. Statement below:

After speaking with the Mayor directly, we have decided that it is in all our interests to postpone Shamrock The Block for now.

For those who support the festival, the jobs it creates, the economic benefit to the neighborhood it brings and the basic joy of being outside with your friends, we say thank you and we will be back once the fear of gathering has subsided. Mayor Stoney and the City of Richmond have pledged their full support for Shamrock’s return, and we are grateful for that.

Once we have a reschedule date, we will post and let the news outlets know.

Cheers!
The Shamrock Team

Original Post:

Two festivals two different approaches. Shamrock the Block which takes place on Arthur Ashe Boulevard is still planning on hosting their party this Saturday. The Church Hill Irish Festival which was scheduled for next week has decided to postpone its 35th Annual Festival.

From the Church Hill Festival

In the interest of our community health and well being, and after speaking with the Mayors Office and City Officials, we have to postpone the 35th Annual Irish Festival until a later date. It breaks our heart for this to happen, but we must keep in mind that the purpose of the Festival is to benefit our community and to celebrate our heritage. This is the right choice at this time☘️
We are sorry for the inconvenience and we pray for the health of anyone affected by this situation.

Yesterday (Wednesday) Shamrock the Block released this statement:

We want to be thoughtful but not live in fear. We have been monitoring the current news daily and we believe common sense is king here. We are asking people to use their common sense. If you are sick, stay home. If you have concerns, stay home. As event organizers, we always have hand washing stations at the event for health reasons, but we are following the CDC recommendations and are strongly encouraging hand washing throughout the day. We are adding more hand washing stations that can be refilled with soap and water as well as additional hand sanitizing stations inside all of the portalets. To add to that, making it easier for more people to get the 20 seconds recommended and shorten the lines, we have acquired a large water truck that is also equipped with water spigots and soap stations that will be available all day. All of our beer pourers, volunteers and ticket sellers will be provided gloves/disinfectant wipes to use and the kids area will use sanitizing wipes throughout the day on the equipment. Unless we are told otherwise by officials, we are moving forward. We hope for everyone that comes out to have a fun, healthy and enjoyable day.

Cheers,
Shamrock the Block Crew

 

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Richard Hayes is the co-founder of RVAHub. When he isn't rounding up neighborhood news, he's likely watching soccer or chasing down the latest and greatest board game.

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Education

Distance learning poses challenges for students, teachers

Students and teachers are transitioning from classroom to computer as the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases continues to rise. Not every subject lends itself to a smooth transition to distance learning, as students and instructors have discovered While video conferencing allows students to meet virtually during a time it’s impossible to meet physically, distance learning poses unique challenges for courses that require more than a lecture, like art classes and lab components of science classes. 

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By Jimmy O’Keefe

Students and teachers at all levels of education are transitioning from classroom to computer as the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases continues to rise. Not every subject lends itself to a smooth transition to distance learning, as students and instructors have discovered.

“I think we’re all really frustrated,” said Jordyn Wade, a fashion design major at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond. “But we know that our professors are doing what they can in a really unprecedented situation.”

Wade said that she and her classmates are now meeting remotely through Zoom, a video conferencing platform. Zoom allows students to meet virtually during a time when people can’t meet physically, but distance learning poses challenges for courses that require more than a lecture, like art classes and lab components of science classes.

Students like Wade worked mostly with industrial grade equipment.

“We kind of rely heavily on the school for supplies like sewing machines and the industrial equipment that can cost thousands of dollars,” Wade said. “Now we just stare at each other and they ask us,‘What can you guys do? Can you hand sew an entire jacket before the end of the month?’”

Wade said that one of the most frustrating aspects of distance learning is not being able to receive direct feedback from professors.

“We can’t ask our professors what’s wrong with the garment that we’re making, we can just send them pictures and hope they can figure it out from afar,” Wade said.

Chloe Pallak, a student in VCU’s art program said that many of her projects are being graded on whether or not they are complete.

“To get a grade for an assignment, you just have to do it,” Pallak said. “It really takes away the motivation of wanting to make art and not just complete the assignment.”

Courses that include lab components, such as classes in environmental science, also face challenges as classes move online. Griffin Erney, an environmental studies major at VCU, said that distance learning prevents students from accessing lab materials that are typically provided in the classroom.

“Before the class was online we would just do different activities and be provided with the materials,” Erney said. “Having labs online is more challenging, on top of all the work that we already have.”

On Monday, Gov. Ralph Northam issued an order that closed down all K-12 schools in the state for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year.

Davide D’Urbino, a chemistry and organic chemistry teacher at Clover Hill High School in Chesterfield County, said he plans on using computer applications to supplement labs that cannot be completed in the classroom. He said the school division requested that teachers hold off on introducing new learning material.

“The expectation was that you could teach new stuff, but then you have to go back in class and reteach it,” D’Urbino said.

D’Urbino said teachers aren’t allowed to teach new material online because some students may not have internet access. He said he understands why the school division has placed these restrictions but said it “feels weird.”

Distance learning has also presented challenges to teachers trying to adapt to lecturing online.

“Some people say teaching is 75 percent theater, you just go out there and do improv. You can’t really do that online,” D’Urbino said. “It’s very difficult to intervene and correct course if you realize something isn’t quite working out.”

Teachers have also scrambled for ways to continue instruction for students that lack access to the internet.

Janice Barton, a 5th grade science teacher at Honaker Elementary School in Russell County, said that about half of the 60 students she teaches have access to the internet. She said the school is using Google Classroom, a web platform that allows teachers to share files with students through the internet. For students without internet access, teachers create physical packets of learning content.

“We’re working as grade levels, we’re going in and working together to put the packets together,” Barton said. “We have pickup days and drop-off days, and that’s how we are working and dealing with this right now.”

Barton said the school uses phone calls, emails, and the app Remind, which allows teachers to send messages to students to keep in contact with parents and students.

While local school divisions are tasked with making decisions on how to pursue distance learning, the Virginia Department of Education issued guidance to help divisions continue instruction.

VDOE’s guidance to local school divisions includes offering instruction during the summer of 2020, extending the school term or adjusting the next, and adding learning modules to extended school calendars.

Superintendent of Public Instruction James Lane issued guidance regarding eight high school senior graduation requirements and will be issuing further guidance for half of those, which can not be waived outright.

Two other graduation requirements — training in emergency first aid and the completion of a virtual course — require action by the General Assembly in order to be waived.

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Crime

Richmond Police seek missing Northside woman last seen in Washington, D.C.

Candis H. Bellah, 32, is missing from the 3800 block of Chamberlayne Avenue. Bellah was last seen in Washington, D.C. on Monday, March 16 and was expected to return to Richmond on that same day but has not been seen.

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From Richmond Police:

The Richmond Police Department is asking for the public’s help in locating a missing person.

Candis H. Bellah, 32, is missing from the 3800 block of Chamberlayne Avenue. Bellah was last seen in Washington, D.C. on Monday, March 16 and was expected to return to Richmond on that same day but has not been seen.

Anyone with information on Bellah is asked to call Detective A. Darnell at (804) 363-0878 or contact Crime Stoppers at (804) 780-1000 or at www.7801000.com.

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Community

Coronavirus Support List

An ongoing list of resources and businesses that are helping the Richmond community in this time of crisis.

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Infection Updates

Social Distancing

Social distancing is the term used to describe certain actions recommended by health officials to disrupt the chain of contagion in a pandemic.  This involves steps such as: keeping 3-6 feet from others, avoiding public gatherings, and limiting face to face contact with others.

Food

  • Richmond Public Schools has begun meal distribution for ALL RPS families that starts today, Monday, March 16th. Please visit one of our food distribution sites 9:30 am-12:30 pm to receive shelf sustainable food for your family during the break! Sites will be open Monday-Friday.

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Housing

  • Greater Richmond Continuum (GRCoC) is providing emergency shelter alternatives and coordinated plans to aid the homeless in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak.

    The GRCoC partners need donations to meet the needs of the homeless population:

    – $10 gift cards for gas stations and food for shelter residents and unsheltered individuals;

    – Cleaning supplies, including soap, hand sanitizers that contain at least 60% alcohol, tissues, trash masks, and disposable face masks;

    – Thermometers;

    – Canned food; and

    – Bus tickets for residents.

    If you’re interested in donating, please contact Michael Rogers of Homeward at [email protected] or via phone at 804-343-2045, extension 22. If you’d like to donate directly, click here.

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