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HCPS ‘Help Chats’: Live sessions, step-by-step videos will take families from login to learning

To help families better understand the concepts and technologies behind virtual learning, Henrico County Public Schools will offer a series of virtual learning “Help Chats.” The chats will include a series of prerecorded videos that will break out exactly what families need to know, as well as three live question-and-answer sessions using Microsoft Teams.

RVAHub Staff

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It’s early on the morning of Sept. 8 and families are readying their Chromebooks, iPads and laptops, and excitedly preparing for the start of Henrico County Public Schools’ new, predominantly virtual school year. Now what?

To help families better understand the concepts and technologies behind virtual learning, Henrico County Public Schools will offer a series of virtual learning “Help Chats.” The chats will include a series of prerecorded videos that will break out exactly what families need to know, as well as three live question-and-answer sessions using Microsoft Teams.

The prerecorded videos are available now, by going to HCPS’ Mission Forward page at https://henricoschools.us/returntoschool/ or by clicking the “Help Chats” playlist on HCPS’ YouTube channel, http://youtube.com/henricoschoolstv. If families have additional questions after watching the videos, the live sessions will provide a chance to get additional answers or guidance.

“We realize that the predominantly virtual start to the school year presents families with a host of challenges,” said Amy Cashwell, superintendent. “We want to do our best to make sure that the technical aspects of virtual learning are as simple as possible, and that families can get their questions answered quickly.”

“Help Chat” prerecorded videos specifically targeted to the needs of HCPS families (available now):

These videos feature prerecorded segments addressing specific aspects of virtual learning, so families can easily get just the information they need. The six recorded “Help Chat” video segments can be seen at https://henricoschools.us/returntoschool/ and at http://youtube.com/henricoschoolstv. The video topics are:

“Help Chat” live question-and-answer sessions using Microsoft Teams (Thursday, Sept. 3):

Three live, interactive sessions using Microsoft Teams will take place Sept. 3 at 10 a.m., 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. The sessions will be moderated by Andy Jenks, HCPS’ chief of communications and community engagement. They will consist of panels of HCPS technology and learning experts answering questions from families and taking a step-by-step approach to virtual learning for all grade levels. All three sessions will be similar and no registration is required. To join the sessions, go to https://tinyurl.com/HCPSHelpChat. For help using Microsoft Teams, information is available at https://henricoschools.us/family-learning-series/.

  • 10 a.m. session.
  • 2 p.m. session.
  • 6 p.m. session.

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Virginia bill seeks to guarantee free school meals to students advances to Senate

The Virginia House of Delegates passed a bill this month to provide free school meals for 109,000 more public school students in the commonwealth.

Capital News Service

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By Aliviah Jones

The Virginia House of Delegates passed a bill this month to provide free school meals for 109,000 more public school students in the commonwealth.

House Bill 5113, introduced by Del. Danica Roem, D-Prince William, passed the chamber unanimously. Roem’s bill requires eligible public elementary and secondary schools to apply for the Community Eligibility Provision through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service.

“School food should be seen as an essential service that is free for everyone regardless of their income,” Roem said.

The program allows all students in an eligible school to receive free breakfast and lunch. Currently, 425 schools are eligible for CEP but don’t take part in the program, according to a document that details the financial impact of the legislation. More than 420 schools and 200,000 students participated in CEP during the 2018 to 2019 school year, according to the Virginia Department of Education.

The bill allows eligible schools to opt-out of the program if participating is not financially possible.
Most Virginia food banks have purchased twice as much food each month since the pandemic started when compared to last year, according to Eddie Oliver, executive director of the Federation of Virginia Food Banks.

“We’re just seeing a lot of need out there and we know that school meal programs are really the front line of ensuring that kids in Virginia have the food they need to learn and thrive,” Oliver said.

Virginia school districts qualify for CEP if they have 40% or more enrolled students in a specified meal program, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). It also includes homeless, runaway, migrant, and foster children, Roem said.

Sandy Curwood, Director of the Virginia Department of Education Office of School Nutrition Programs, said school districts receive federal reimbursement based on a formula.

“Making sure that children have access to good healthy food, and particularly through school meals I think is a great opportunity,” Curwood said.

The federal government will reimburse schools that have more than 62.5% students who qualify for free meals, Roem said. Schools with between 55% and 62.4% of students enrolled will receive between 80% and 99% reimbursement.

“If HB 5113 is the law, how their children will eat during the school day will be one less worry for students and their families,”, said Semora Ward, a community organizer for the Hampton Roads-based Virginia Black Leadership Organizing Collaborative. The meals are available whether children are physically in schools or attending virtual classes.

The Virginia Black Leadership Organizing Collaborative has raised $8,000 in the past three years for unpaid school meals in Hampton and Newport News, according to Ward.

“While we are pleased with these efforts and the outpouring of community support, we should have never had to do this in the first place,” she said.

Roem was one of several legislators that took on the USDA earlier this year to not require students to be present when receiving free school meals during the pandemic. The Virginia General Assembly passed Roem’s bill earlier this year that allows school districts to distribute excess food to students eligible for the School Breakfast Program or National School Lunch Program administered by the USDA.

HB 5113 has been referred to the Senate Education and Health Committee.

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U of R’s Sharp Viewpoint Series features pairs of thought leaders from across the political aisle

Conversations about bipartisanship, the 2020 election, and viewpoint diversity will distinguish this year’s Sharp Viewpoint Speakers Series. This year’s series focuses on engaging in dialogue to foster change.

RVAHub Staff

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Conversations about bipartisanship, the 2020 election, and viewpoint diversity will distinguish this year’s Sharp Viewpoint Speakers Series. This year’s series focuses on engaging in dialogue to foster change. University of Richmond President Ronald A. Crutcher will host a series of conversations about pressing issues of our time with pairs of thought leaders from across the political aisle.

“The Sharp Speaker series provides us a unique opportunity to foster dynamic and critical conversations,” Crutcher said. “Each program this year will include two speakers from opposite sides of the political spectrum.  I’m particularly looking forward to the energetic and thought-provoking conversation that will occur with both speakers together.”

Due to COVID-19, events will be held via live stream.

This year’s series includes:

Sept. 21, 7 p.m.

Bipartisanship: What’s Changed and What’s in Store

Denis McDonough, former White House Chief of Staff under President Barack Obama

Mike Sommers, former Chief of Staff to Speaker of the House John Boehner

The two will discuss American political bipartisanship in the Trump era, the state of the 2020 U.S. presidential race, and possibilities for compromise amidst extreme political polarization.

Nov. 11, 7 p.m.

The 2020 Elections: What Happened?

Mary Kate Cary, a former speechwriter for President George H.W. Bush

Mary Anne Marsh, Democratic political analyst, and consultant

They will discuss the 2020 election results and their implications for critical national issues, including the ongoing COVID-19 crisis and response, economic recovery, and a new era of American civil rights activism. 

March 26, 2021, 7 p.m.

Friendship and Dialogue Across Difference

Cornel West, philosopher, political activist, and professor at Harvard University

Robert P. George, American legal scholar, and professor at Princeton University

West and George are friends and former colleagues who will discuss the importance of fostering dialogue and cultivating friendships across ideological and political divides.

These live-streamed events are free and open to the public, and registration is required. To register for the Sept. 21 event, visit www.crowdcast.io/e/university-of-richmond/register.

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University of Richmond listed as #22 top national liberal art college, highest ranking ever

This ranking is UR’s highest from U.S. News to date. UR ranked #23 in the 2018 and 2020 guides. The overall ranking for UR was #32 in the 2016 guide five years ago.  

RVAHub Staff

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U.S. News & World Report’s Best Colleges 2021 guide ranks the University of Richmond #22 overall among national liberal arts colleges. This ranking is UR’s highest from U.S. News to date. UR ranked #23 in the 2018 and 2020 guides. The overall ranking for UR was #32 in the 2016 guide five years ago.

The University of Richmond also ranked #25 for “Best Value” among national liberal arts colleges. Richmond is among only 1% of institutions in the U.S. with both a “need-blind” admission policy and a guarantee to meet 100 percent of demonstrated need for traditional undergraduate applicants. Thirty-nine percent of undergrads are eligible for need-based aid, and all first-year applicants are considered for merit-based aid, including full-tuition scholarships and a variety of interest-based programs.

Richmond also was named to the “Most Innovative Schools” list and ranked #18 among national liberal arts colleges. This category highlights colleges that are making the most innovative improvements in terms of curriculum, faculty, students, campus life, technology, or facilities. The ranking is the result of a peer assessment survey completed by college presidents, provosts, and admissions deans.

The University of Richmond was highlighted in the “Study Abroad” category of the “Academic Programs to Look For” ranking, coming in at #24. This accolade highlights schools that involve substantial academic work abroad for credit and value considerable interaction with the local culture. UR’s student population represents more than 70 countries, and about 65% of students graduate with an international experience.

Richmond also ranked in the Top 100 for undergraduate business programs at #97.

Additional information can be found here.

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