The head of Loudoun County Public Schools presented the school board with plans for the next school year as Virginia moves forward with its coronavirus recovery plans.
As school system submits plans and strategies for dealing with the public health risk of COVID-19, Superintendent Eric Williams told the school board Tuesday that if the schools can open safely, and following health requirements and recommendations, the preference is for 100% in-person learning.
In a letter to county families and staff released Friday, Williams acknowledged that the approach schools would take in the fall will depend on which phase of recovery Northern Virginia is in at the time. Other models the school system is considering have a combination of in-person learning and a revised approach to distance learning, or 100% distance learning.
“Each phase of recovery involves different levels of mitigation to protect students and staff. Each level of mitigation will allow different numbers of students to occupy buses, classrooms and other common areas which must be considered in determining return-to-school plans,” Williams said.
Until Northern Virginia exits Phase Three, Williams said it is near certain that schools would need to provide at least some distance learning to supplement in-person learning.
However, phase guidelines for Virginia schools state that in-person instruction can be offered to all students in Phase Three, with strict social distancing and options for remote learning and teleworking for students and staff who may be at risk.
Loudoun County Public Schools’ planning for Phase Three involves two days a week of in-person learning and three days a week of distance learning for most students.
“This is not our preference, but may be a necessary part of the solution dictated by the community health conditions at the time,” Williams said.
Distance learning in the new school year would also be different from this past spring. In the fall, students would have more live, interactive learning; more structure and consistent schedules; increased work time expectations; extracurricular activities in accordance with public health guidance; grading of student work; and required attendance.
There would also be a 100% distance learning option for parents who choose not to have their children participate in any in-person learning.
Williams said plans had not been finalized, and feedback from several focus groups that involved teachers, parents, students and other participants, as well as an upcoming community survey, will inform the school district’s decision. Survey information will be distributed next week.
For those interested in Loudoun County Public Schools’ reopening plans, Williams’ presentation is posted online and includes a video (begins at the 3:16:29 mark). The presentation also illustrates possible classroom and bus seating configurations that adhere to social distancing.
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