Behind the Wheel sustains program throughout the 2020-2021 school year


Jacky Le, Chronicle Staff Writer

The Behind the Wheel program is currently open without any waiting time. After being suspended indefinitely, Behind the Wheel opened late last year with new sanitary precautions. 

Due to the ongoing pandemic, physical education teacher and Behind the Wheel coordinator Ann-Harris Lambert will adhere to new sanitation rules for both drivers’ and instructors’ safety.

“We have to clean the surfaces of the car in the front seat and the back seat before students get in, when they change drivers and before they leave,” Lambert said. “Students also have to wear masks when they are driving and observing.”

Junior Mya Morgan is currently taking behind the wheel and has noticed an increase in sanitation throughout her experience.

“My behind the wheel teacher took as many precautions as they could. After a person drives, they have to sanitize their area, but I think if everyone in the vehicle was required to wear gloves, it would help as well,” Morgan said.

The county has decided to instruct the students in pairs instead of a singular student being instructed.

“When we first started back with behind the wheel, we only had one student in the car, but then the county changed it back to two students,” Lambert said.

Morgan feels that having a partner helps enhance and eases the experience of driving compared to not having a partner.

“Having a partner during behind the wheel makes the experience better, especially if they are your friend,” Morgan said.

According to Lambert, traditional in-school behind the wheel is less commonly taken by students. Many are choosing to take the program through private companies instead, despite behind the wheel at school being cheaper. The pandemic has presented unique challenges to resuming behind the wheel.

“Trying to get communication out to everyone has been a challenge. Before the pandemic, I sat in the cafeteria and signed students up during their lunches. Now, everything is online. I try to communicate with all 10th grade students in their PE classes, but I know some students aren’t taking PE in school,” Lambert said, “I have sent out mass emails to 10-12 graders to let them know that behind the wheel is open for business and there is no wait.”

Morgan was very reluctant to sign up for behind the wheel because of safety concerns regarding the pandemic. 

“At first, I was hesitant about taking Behind the Wheel due to the pandemic, but CHHS is doing their best to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”

Anyone can sign up for Behind the Wheel on the CHHS website or by emailing [email protected], as long as they have met the requirements. To take the class, a student must hold a valid Virginia learner’s permit, complete a set of paperwork and log a set number of driving hours with a parent or guardian before signing up. Other requirements are found on the Behind the Wheel sign-up form here: Behind the Wheel Sign Up. The program costs $210.