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Chesapeake, Newport News school leaders join 'Virginia LEARNS' to develop back-to-school guide

The Chief of Staff at Newport News Public Schools and the Superintendent of Chesapeake Public Schools were hand picked by the state to take on leadership roles.

CHESAPEAKE, Va. — Virginia's Superintendent of Public Instruction, James Lane, announced in February the formation of a group of educators, school administrators, mental health professionals, parents and community organization leaders to headline a new initiative called the Virginia LEARNS Workgroup.

LEARNS stands for Leading, Engaging, Assessing, Recovering, Nurturing, and Succeeding.

Two Hampton Roads school leaders were chosen to be a part of this team.

Newport News Public Schools chief of staff, Rashard Wright, will lead the equity part of the team. Chesapeake Public Schools superintendent, Dr. Jared Cotton, will lead the assessment part.

"This new version will provide new guidance for obviously returning young people to in-person if you had not for the rest of the year, guidance for the year, and also guidance for the beginning of next year," Wright explained.

Wright said he would focus on creating a guide for schools to make sure every student in Virginia had access to the proper technology, food assistance and more.

"Meeting all of the needs of all of our students would mean making sure we have a bevy of resources to make a difference," said Wright.

Cotton said he was aiming to help schools quickly identify any gaps in learning, and decide what to do from there. He said they learned a lot during the past year and he felt confident moving forward with this updated initiative.

"My challenge, and my hope, is that I can create something user-friendly that's going to help save my colleagues," said Cotton. "Because we're all trying to figure this out across the state, and all of our communities and there are no right or wrong answers."

Both administrators joined the team of educators, mental health professionals, parents and community leaders. 

They already had two meetings and said they expect to release the latest guide by the end of March.