Prince William School Superintendent Shares 2nd Marking Period Update

Prince William School Superintendent Steven Walts (image by PWCS.)

Prince William County Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Steven Walts, sent an email to parents and staff, Friday, outlining more information about returning to school for the second marking period of the 2020-21 school year.

The message assumes that K-12 students and staff will be returning to a 50% hybrid models with students (House A and C) attending 2-days a week, either on Tuesdays and Thursdays, or Wednesdays and Fridays. They will do asynchronous work on the other weekdays.

Students now in school (House B) will continue their four-day a week in-person schedule.

Parents can also decide to keep their children all-virtual, but the virtual day will look different than it currently does. “If choosing the virtual-only option, parents/guardians are asked to commit to virtual-only for at least the entire second quarter,” Walts said.

Just about all in-person students will have to wear masks when they are within six feet of their classmates. Students will sit at least three feet apart in classrooms and must distance from each other on buses.

According to the email, some teachers may teach only in-school students and some virtual-only teachers will have virtual-only students. However, in some cases teachers will be teaching both virtually and in-person.

The first day students will return to school is Nov. 10, 2020. High school will revert to beginning at 7:30 a.m.

Parent input via ParentVUE, which opens Monday, will inform schools before they assign students to teachers. Parent VUE is now open for parents to make or change their selections.

Walts said they will be transparent about COVID-19 cases within the school division. “A list of known positive COVID-19 cases in PWCS is available on the PWCS website.

Teachers and students may have to quarantine if they have COVID-19 or come into close contact with those who do. Those students and teachers can continue learning or instruction remotely.

The school board voted in July to anticipate a 50% hybrid model for the second marking period. The decision on how to organize the school year rests with that board.

Please read the following information for more details. Parents and teachers should also have received this information via email. 

September 25, 2020

Dear PWCS Parents and Guardians,

To prepare for the start of the second quarter in November, PWCS is re-opening the Return to Learn form in ParentVUE on Monday, September 28, 2020. The form will remain open through Sunday, October 4, 2020. This will allow parents and guardians the opportunity to update their selection of virtual or in-person learning for their student, or students, in the second quarter. The form will be available in the web version of ParentVUE and the ParentVUE app. Additional information will be sent Monday regarding how to log in and update your selection.

If choosing the virtual-only option, parents/guardians are asked to commit to virtual-only for at least the entire second quarter. This is necessary as in-person capacity caps will be needed for planning to accommodate social distancing requirements.

Parents should note that the form is open for those who would like to make a change to their current selections. No action is needed if parents/guardians do not want to make a change. If no selection has been made at all, the student’s enrollment option will default to in-person.

Important Information about the 50 Percent Model

The first day of 50 percent in person classes is currently planned to start for all grade levels on November 10. This is consistent with the School Board adopted plan in July to transition to a 50 percent model in the second quarter with a virtual option. This is subject to potential change as final health, staffing, and instructional needs are assessed.

Below are key points to know about the 50 percent model; an extensive and detailed frequently asked questions is available on the PWCS website.

Health

    1. Students attending in person must do a COVID-19 symptom self-check daily and must not attend school if symptoms are present.
    2. In order to lower risk of COVID-19 spread, the in-person 50 percent model is based on a minimum three feet of social distance for most classrooms with face coverings required for nearly all students and staff at most times, when less than six feet of social distance is possible, including bus riding.
    3. Should COVID-19 remain at current or increased levels, there is the likelihood that positive cases may occur within schools, and that may require staff and students to quarantine. Please note COVID-19 levels vary greatly by ZIP code (Prince William County COVID-19 dashboard).
    4. Students in quarantine will attend school virtually.
    5. A list of known positive COVID-19 cases in PWCS is available on the PWCS website.

Schedule

    1. Due to bus and lunch scheduling for in-person learning, while the sequence of classes may remain the same, schedule times at all levels will change. This includes times for those currently attending in-person and schedules of related services may need to be adjusted.
    2. Those students currently attending in-person four days a week in the first quarter will continue to do so.
    3. Students attending in-person will attend in-person every other day (Tuesday and Thursday or Wednesday and Friday). (see example)
    4. Middle school and high school students attending in-person will see their teachers in-person for each class once a week.
    5. Students will participate remotely through live “synchronous” learning via Zoom on the days they are not attending in-person.
    6. Daily live instructional time for each subject/class will be based on their daily assigned classes and students will not be live streaming with the teacher every minute of a 6.5-hour day.
    7. Students will be assigned to a “House” to determine which days they will attend in-person (Tuesday/Thursday House or a Wednesday/Friday House) or into a virtual-only house.
    8. Monday will continue the same as first quarter – a virtual day for all students, with students working asynchronously on assignments remotely (may include recorded lessons). It also is an opportunity for office hours with teachers, or to receive additional services.
    9. Due to bus scheduling, high school start times will revert to 7:30 a.m. for all students in the second quarter.
    10. More detailed sample schedules by level will be posted to school schedules later in October.
    11. Due to scheduling and staffing considerations, some students may have different teachers assigned in the second quarter than currently assigned.

Instruction

    1. New instruction will be provided Tuesday – Friday.
    2. Virtual learning in the 50 percent model will look different than the first quarter.
    3. Virtual-only students may be provided a virtual-only teacher, but this will vary by school and schedule needs.
    4. Teachers in some classes will be assigned both virtual and in-person students; this will mean students participating remotely will be watching a teacher in front of a classroom with in-person students. This hybrid classroom experience will be different than when teachers are fully remote and working with all remote students.
    5. Live instruction schedules will be based on the in-person day; this may require additional time spent by students watching live sessions versus the more compressed schedule of the all-virtual model in the first quarter.
    6. If attending in-person, on days your child is in school, the assigned teacher may also be instructing them virtually. In this case, another staff member will be in the room.

Transportation

    1. Buses will have reduced capacity in order to meet social distance requirements and bus routes will require at least double runs at every school.

Sports and Activities

  1. The Virginia High School League (VHSL) voted on a model that delays sports and activities until December 14 and keeps all sports in the seasons where they are currently aligned with a condensed season. Students are still eligible for sports or after-school clubs and activities if participating virtually. Transportation to the school for athletics or activities will be the responsibility of the parent/guardian and/or the student.
  2. As of September, for high-risk sports to be played, Virginia would need to have fewer coronavirus restrictions in place.
  3. Middle school sports information will be provided soon.

Thank you for your partnership in the education of our students. We recognize the complexity of this school year, and we value your collaboration as we work together to ensure that a high-quality education continues safely amidst this ongoing pandemic.

Sincerely,

Dr. Steve Walts
Superintendent of Schools
Prince William County Public Schools

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