It’s not every day you get a call from the school counselor. But on this day, third-grader Colin Klass was excited — Mrs. Brandenburg, his counselor, had called to wish him a happy birthday.

“He had the biggest smile,” Colin’s mother, Victoria, said. “She called early that day and it helped him realize that his school community still cared and was thinking of him.”

Victoria Klass’ sons, Colin and Liam, both attend C.W. Shipley Elementary in Jefferson County and have been settling into remote learning over the past several months. Klass said she was impressed with how quickly the school was able to engage students at home.

“What I have really appreciated is the frequent communication the teachers have had with both parents and the students,” she said. “Each week, Colin and Liam meet virtually with their teachers and classmates. The librarian reads books online, and Liam is keeping up with band. Even the art teacher has ideas for the kids.”

The kids’ bus driver, Roberta Rankin, also made an effort to reach out to families.

“She indicated that she wanted to check in with all her families to make sure everyone was doing well and if anyone needed anything. That was so thoughtful,” Klass said.

Klass said she feels it’s important that her sons hear from those familiar faces, especially now.

“During this time, I think many students might feel disconnected from their peers and from their schools,” she explained. “While it’s always important for a school’s climate to reflect safety and a sense of community, it is even more necessary during a crisis.”

Since the school closures began, schools across West Virginia quickly adapted to online and remote learning. Klass said that, as a parent, it’s been a relief to know that Jefferson County Schools was prepared and have put the needs of the students first.

“The teachers have been incredibly positive and from the materials provided, they have put so much effort into having learning opportunities ready,” she explained. “My husband and I are both working from home, which can be difficult. However, the teachers are understanding and ready to help anytime I’ve reached out. I just really appreciate how much they have shown that they care about their students. It makes me proud of my small town.”