TBD: Loudoun Co. prepares 3 scenarios for next school year

Loudoun County Public Schools is planning for three possible scenarios for next school year, including one option that would blend in-person and distance learning, according to a message to parents and staff from the head of the school system.

Regardless of restrictions dictated by COVID-19, “we will be ready for the 2020-2021 school year,” Loudoun County Superintendent Eric Williams said in an email to the school community Wednesday.

Williams said all the scenarios being considered will be based on still-to-be determined public health guidance from the Virginia Department of Health regarding physical distancing and other mitigation strategies specific to elementary, middle, and high schools.

“Decisions regarding when and how to reopen school, and whether to extend distance learning will be condition-based, not time-based. Predefined, science-based metric and reopening metrics articulated by public health officials and other government authorities will guide our decisions,” he said.

Williams laid out the three options and said each could contain variations, adding, “we need to be agile enough to shift back and forth among scenarios, if necessitated by conditions.”

  • Reopen schools with 100% in-person learning (Scenario 1): In-person learning in this scenario would occur without physical distancing or other public health mitigation strategies.
  • Reopen schools with combination of in-person and distance learning (Scenario 2): In-person learning would occur with physical distancing and other public health mitigation strategies.
  • Extend distance learning without in-person learning (Scenario 3): Distance learning would be extended with a revised approach, building on the strengths of the current distance learning approach and making good use of opportunities for improvement.

Williams said Scenario 2 — the combination of in-person and distance learning — would have “significant implications” for the community, since “on any given day some students would likely attend school for in-person learning while other students participate in distance learning.”

Under this scenario, parents of young children would likely need to tailor their schedules on days their child is scheduled to be learning online at home.

In addition, Scenario 2 would affect many aspects of school operations, including bus transportation, meal service and procedures for children safely moving within the school building.

In the coming weeks, Williams said the school system will solicit feedback and conduct focus groups, with parents, employees and community groups. Throughout, the school board will be in the loop, he said.

By the end of June, Williams said he plans to update the community after receiving additional information about how the phases of Gov. Ralph Northam’s plan to reopen Virginia and recommendations of public health experts will apply to schools.

More Coronavirus news

Looking for more information? D.C., Maryland and Virginia are each releasing more data every day. Visit their official sites here: Virginia | Maryland | D.C.

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Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a reporter at WTOP since 1997. Through the years, Neal has covered many of the crimes and trials that have gripped the region. Neal's been pleased to receive awards over the years for hard news, feature reporting, use of sound and sports.

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