March 11, 2021

James River’s decision to have in-person schooling for every child, every day, for the entire school year has helped our students and their families to avoid the deficiencies inherent in distance learning. Our students were impacted last spring academically, as well as socially, emotionally, and psychologically, by distance learning with its lack of meaningful human interaction and connection. However, we have overcome those challenges over the course of this school year by being together daily. I think it is safe to say that the James River community -- students, families, and faculty/staff -- has benefited immensely.

Nationally, a year without in-person schooling is a catastrophe from which it will take students, families, and school systems years to recover. The extent of the damage to the social, emotional, and psychological needs of the nation’s children is yet to be determined, but preliminary data does not bode well. In schools with distance learning, absenteeism is rampant and the number of below average and failing grades has gone through the roof. As a January op-ed in the Richmond Times Dispatch said, “Most directly, our students are falling behind in school. Indirectly, we are seeing mental health, social-emotional and abuse issues increase.”
While I lament the issues that other schools face, I can only act on behalf of James River. I am intensely focused on making sure that our students and their teachers receive what they need and deserve to perform at their best. Rest assured that our students are receiving the instruction and support so crucial to the proper development of the whole child. I am deeply moved by the dedication and devotion to the children and their education, which I see demonstrated by our faculty and staff. We keep our focus where it should be in every situation by answering the question, “What is best for the children?” This is the hallmark of our school.