When impact from the coronavirus took hold of the country in mid-March, schools were one of the first institutions to close their doors for the safety of students, teachers and staff members. In just about a month, schools instituted virtual learning, distributed laptops to students and tried their best to keep kids of all ages educated while at home.
Now with summer in full swing, county school boards are looking ahead at the 2020-2021 academic year, deciding how to best teach students, while also keeping them safe from COVID-19. Here, we detail exactly what they have planned, as of press time, in accordance with Gov. Ralph Northam’s Forward Virginia blueprint.
According to the Alexandria City Public Schools’ website, the school board is hoping to resume in-person schooling this fall, should the city and Northern Virginia be fully open at that time. In the event that that is not the case though, the school board is set to have a contingency plan in place. As of now, co-chairs and leads of the reopening plan are working on reopening models and instructional frameworks for the fall, with plans to release an update on Friday, June 26. For a detailed timeline of when families, educators and local residents will know more about the reopening plan, click here.
On June 23, the staff of Arlington County Public Schools announced plans to move forward with possible hybrid instructional models that blend in-person and distance learning for students this fall, a decision stemming from work with health professionals, as well as survey results from families and staff. In addition, Superintendent Dr. Francisco Durán and his team plan to offer a distance-learning-only option for students who are in high-risk health categories or are not comfortable returning to in-person learning. Dr. Durán has plans to share more details on the three models that best meet APS needs and align with neighboring school divisions at a school board meeting Thursday, June 25.
On Wednesday, June 24, the Fairfax County School Board announced it would offer students a choice of how they return to school on Tuesday, Aug. 25, the first day of the upcoming school year. The two choices include either full-time online instruction, or at least two full days of in-person instruction each week with students engaged in independent study and at-home work on the days they are not in the building. In either scenario, one day each week will be set aside for teacher planning, intervention and one-on-one support with some students.
The plan was developed following feedback from surveys, town hall meetings, online commentary and work with health officials, in order to ensure safety for families, students and staff members. In the coming weeks, more details about an updated virtual-learning model will be announced here. Plus, parents are asked to respond to the registration letter request, detailing which option they will choose for their kid(s) by Friday, July 10.
Fauquier County has yet to release any plans related to reopening for the 2020-2021 academic year, as the school board is waiting to review responses from a survey sent to families and students. Families had from June 18 to June 25 to input responses, enabling staff to create a safe reopening plan for this fall. Updated information in the coming weeks can be found on the county’s coronavirus-focused website.
As of press time, Fredericksburg City Schools have not made a plan for the upcoming academic school year. According to the organization’s website, Fredericksburg City Public Schools is “monitoring the coronavirus outbreak” and working closely with public health professionals to ensure the health and safety of local students, families and staff.
Should Virginia remain in phase three by the start of the fall academic year, the Loudoun County School Board will introduce an instructional model that includes some in-person learning, as well as some distance learning. According to a video recorded by Superintendent Dr. Eric Williams on the Loudoun County Public Schools’ website, “Loudoun County School Board wants to maximize in-person, safe learning experiences for all our students in the new school year.” However, should that not be possible, students across all grade levels will take part in two days of in-person learning, and three days of at-home learning. According to Dr. Williams, virtual learning this fall will look completely different than it did this past spring, with more structure and consistent schedules, synchronized learning, increased work-time expectations, required attendance and extracurricular activities aligning with public health guidelines across all grade levels.
On June 3, the Prince William County School Board announced it is expecting to open for in-person learning on the first day of the 2020-2021 academic school year, on Tuesday, Aug. 25. Despite that though, staff is still developing an extensive plan for potential virtual learning options, should it be necessary. Currently, representative parents are reviewing, discussing and providing input on the school board’s “Return to New Learning Plan,” which includes the possibility of a hybrid, in-person and distance-learning method, as well as an option for those who wish to continue learning from home. In an online statement, the school board also noted it has plans to procure more laptops at the start of the fiscal year in order to give every high school student in the county a laptop by November. Stay up to date on details as they are decided here.
For more news on how schools are preparing for the upcoming school year, subscribe to our Education newsletter.