Five-day-a-week in-person learning will be the default for Prince William County Public School students this fall, according to a plan prepared for the county School Board.
The plan, scheduled to be presented by Superintendent Steve Walts at Wednesday night’s board meeting, says that virtual learning will be an option for students at all grade levels. However, a preliminary survey by the school division indicates that 85% of parents plan for their students to return to classes in person.
The plan was developed with assistance from a 78-person task force that included teachers, counselors, principals, division staff, and the Prince William Education Association. The School Board asked Walts on March 17 to prepare the plan for in-person learning this fall.
COVID-19 mitigation strategies will be followed to the “fullest extent possible,” according to the plan. These include requiring 3 feet of distancing between students, with all students wearing masks, and 6 feet of distancing between students in cafeterias. Students may share seats on school buses but will be required to wear masks.
The presentation notes that the plan is subject to change based on state and federal health directives, and that the new superintendent, Dr. LaTanya McDade, may choose to make additional adjustments. McDade begins her work in Prince William on July 1, following Walts’ retirement.
Parents can opt-in for virtual learning for their students for the fall semester between May 24 and May 28, according to the plan. Virtual students will be grouped together in virtual-only classes, and, to the greatest extent possible, teachers will not have to teach students online as well as those in person at the same time. Teachers who are asked to do so — or to teach during a quarantine — will receive additional compensation.
Schools will follow normal bell schedules, and virtual classes will follow the same bell schedule. A limited number of classes may not be offered virtually, such as technical education classes requiring hands-on work.
In addition, school-aged child care before and after the school day is planned as normal at the system’s 62 elementary schools and selected middle schools.