Mathews County, Virginia is one of the Chesapeake’s special places, a series of necks cut by creeks and rivers between the Piankatank River and the North side of Mobjack Bay. It is a tight-knit, water-oriented rural community where one of the most popular high school team sports is crew, with students rowing competitively on Mobjack’s East River and at regional and national regattas. No surprise, then, that Mathews citizens are ingeniously working together—at appropriate social distances—to preserve important elements of education for its young people. Consider the following March 23rd comments from Dr. Nancy B. Welch, Superintendent of the county’s public schools, on the school system’s website:
“Whether you are a Lee-Jackson Tiger, a Thomas Hunter Seahawk or a Mathews Blue Devil, we ALL are ‘Mathews’ through and through. There is a ‘Mathews Way’ and I want each of our students, our children, to know that you are safe and in good hands. In a time of crisis, our Community pulls together to take care of our own…
To the Class of 2020, to many adults you are known as our ‘9/11 children’ as you came into this world during a time when the United States was feeling the shock of four coordinated attacks against our Country. Since you came into this world during such a time, I suppose I really shouldn’t be surprised that you will be graduating under very unusual circumstances as well…the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Three further points stand out especially from Dr. Welch’s post. First, teachers will continue to conduct classes remotely, either electronically or with paper, to provide opportunities for students to continue learning. Second, the school system will continue to provide “grab and go” breakfast and lunch packages for ALL county students to pick up, even including those that are home-schooled or attend private schools. And third, the system has arranged free Wi-Fi access in multiple school parking lots around the county, plus the lots at the local Food Lion and the Mathews Memorial Library, for students to continue their schoolwork digitally.
Finally, the Bay School Community Arts Center and the Mathews County Coalition 4 Kids are offering projects for students on their Facebook pages, including live-streamed programs. The Bay School Center is also assembling Arts to Go project kits that are available for pickup each day.
Adam Sadeg, the Manager at Zimmerman Marine’s Deltaville boatyard, is the Mathews resident who alerted CBM to these programs. He calls his home county “a small community with a big heart! I’m proud to be part of a community that cares about its young ones.”
–John Page Williams