Schools open in Gloucester, Mathews

by Kim Robins and Charlie Koenig - Posted on Sep 04, 2019 - 01:37 PM

Photo: Botetourt Elementary School first grade teacher Rebecca Teagle prepares to read the book “Rufus Goes to School” to her class on Tuesday. Botetourt saw about 620 children walk through its doors on opening day. Photo by Kim Robins

Botetourt Elementary School first grade teacher Rebecca Teagle prepares to read the book “Rufus Goes to School” to her class on Tuesday. Botetourt saw about 620 children walk through its doors on opening day. Photo by Kim Robins

Photo: Teacher Joy Drummond, at right, holds hands with Julien Moore as they prepare to walk into Lee-Jackson Elementary School on Tuesday morning. Behind her, L-J teacher assistant Nina Dease accompanies students Michael Ronquest, left, and Dario Pascual-Lopez. Photo by Charlie Koenig

Teacher Joy Drummond, at right, holds hands with Julien Moore as they prepare to walk into Lee-Jackson Elementary School on Tuesday morning. Behind her, L-J teacher assistant Nina Dease accompanies students Michael Ronquest, left, and Dario Pascual-Lopez. Photo by Charlie Koenig

Photo: Children going into first grade at Petsworth Elementary School had fun with a photo booth during Petsworth’s Open House last Wednesday. Shown with their props are, from left, Ki’mora Ward, Christian Garces, Pablo Ledesma and Sophi Docherty. Photo by Cindy Thomas

Children going into first grade at Petsworth Elementary School had fun with a photo booth during Petsworth’s Open House last Wednesday. Shown with their props are, from left, Ki’mora Ward, Christian Garces, Pablo Ledesma and Sophi Docherty. Photo by Cindy Thomas

With the exception of some transportation problems, Gloucester County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Walter Clemons said things went smoothly the first day of school on Tuesday.

“Overall it was a good day,” Clemons said. “Things went well and we’re still sorting out a couple of transportation issues.” 

The GCPS Student Services office reported that 4,820 Gloucester children showed up for the first day of school. The school division’s 2019-2020 budget is based on a projected enrollment of 5,175, and more children are expected to enroll over the next week or two.

In Mathews

“Fantastic … a very smooth opening” is how Mathews County Superintendent of Schools Nancy Welch described Tuesday’s return to the classroom for the 2019-2020 school year.

Welch said she and assistant superintendent Lesley Hunley had the opportunity to walk around all three county schools on Tuesday and were pleased to find everything in order. “They went right to work,” she said of the students, teachers and staff. “Very few tears from our kindergarteners.”

First-day attendance was 1,037 students. “We had some students that did not enroll that we know are coming,” she said. “That number should go up” in the coming days and weeks.

Over the past couple years, large class sizes at Lee-Jackson Elementary forced the school board to add a kindergarten and a first grade class. That’s not a problem this year. “We’re at a good place now,” Welch said.

Like other schools across Virginia and the nation, Mathews will be looking very closely at attendance this year. Welch said she is doing a lot of community outreach to improve attendance, talking with the Mathews Resources Council and with local physicians to ensure that students are present in the classroom and ready to learn.

Welch praised her transportation team for having all the buses ready to roll and no issues getting the children to and from school. Right now, she said her most immediate concern is the weather. She is closely monitoring Hurricane Dorian and was attending a county meeting Wednesday morning to discuss possible emergency plans.