Northern Virginia schools start Tuesday with new challenges amid pandemic

Tuesday marks the first day of school for students all over Northern Virginia, and it’s safe to say this school year is going to feel a little different.

For instance, when 7th grader Jackson Weber was asked what he was nervous about ahead of his first day, he didn’t mention new teachers or making new friends – instead, he brought up his family’s home internet connection.

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“When she is on video calls,” he said, pointing to his sister Caden, “my dad’s on video calls for his work, and I’m on a video call, it’s most likely going to tank so that’s gonna be a challenge.”

And the Weber’s aren’t alone. Virtual classes start this week in Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun, and Prince William Counties, as well as in the city of Alexandria too.

“There was never a moment when I thought, you know what, I’m going to do the first day of school from my own house,” Jackson added.

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Districts have prepared for problems. As an example, most have websites and phone lines dedicated to potential technology troubles. But some other issues remain.

“I started asking what do you think these kids are gonna need?,” explained Jackson’s mom, Cortney, “And by far, headphones came back as the number one.”

After learning that literally thousands of children in Arlington couldn’t afford badly-needed headphones for school, Cortney started a campaign, called Project Headphones. It’s now raised more than $28,000 total from a GoFundMe page as well as private donations.

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“I have principals, I have PTA presidents at local schools that are reaching out to me saying how many are we gonna get?” Cortney said. “There is a dire need for this.”

If you’d like to help, you can learn more about Project Headphones here.