Northern Virginia Districts Will Return More Students to In-Person Learning this Fall


Three school districts neighboring Prince William County have adopted return-to-learning plans that will place more of their students in classrooms this fall. Although every district is moving forward with opening buildings, each plan is unique.Prince William County Schools has yet to confirm its plans.

Prince William County Schools

Prince William County started the year with 90-plus percent of its students working 100% virtually via Zoom and the Canvass platform. The plan remains to transition to a 2-day a week in-class hybrid plan by the second marking period, but that is subject to change.

According to Superintendent Steven Walts, the school division could continue 100% virtual, transition to the hybrid plan for all student electing it, or send primary grade students back first, such as grades K-3. Any return to in-class learning would allow students to social distance by three feet or more.

The school division requests that parents update their decisions for their students on ParentVUE between Sept. 28 and Oct. 4 to inform the division’s recommendation. The current plan has students separated into "houses" so to not have everyone in the classroom at one time.

PWCS updated information on 50% hybrid model on its website on Sept. 22. According to the information provided in most cases all-virtual teachers will teach all-virtual learners.

Loundoun County Public Schools

Loundoun County School Board approved a phased in back-to-school plan Tuesday by which the youngest students would return back to class first. According to LoudounNow, kindergarten, first and second graders will return to school on Oct. 27. The plan is to have third, fourth and fifth graders return in early December and to go forward from there.

Fauquier County Schools 

In Fauquier County, all public school students will return to classrooms unless they elect to remain virtual-only. The Fauquier County School Board voted 5-0 Wednesday to adopt a plan that would allow students to return to school two-days a week and learn from home the remaining weekdays. The two-day schedule allows for social distancing within the school buildings.

Teachers will simultaneously instruct in-person and remote students by wearing headsets and microphones. Cameras will be focused on the front of the classrooms, but teachers can move about the room.

According to Fauquier Now, there were not enough teachers willing to teach 100% virtual. Only 37 teachers either qualified or volunteered while 3,000 students opted for virtual-only learning.

Fauquier County faces the challenge of a lack of Broadband access and having long bus rides for students; however, the rural county has far greater rates of COVID-19.

Fairfax County Public Schools 

The Fairfax County School Board also approved a proposal that would bring more students back into the classroom, though the vast will continue under the current virtual model. The school board voted Tuesday to have approximately 7,000 out its 180,000 students to return to classrooms in October.

According to WUSA9, “students struggling with with virtual learning,” and “special education cases where all parties agree it is appropriate,” will return to school via a, “cohort model.” The plan is similar to the one Prince William County currently has in place in that only a few thousands students with special needs will back in the classroom.

Fairfax, which has the highest rates of COVID-19 of any jurisdiction in the Commonwealth of Virginia and the most students, is holding off on the “hybrid” model until entering what FPCS calls "Phase 3."  It notes that students and staff who test positive for the virus must quarantine.

Many parents want their school divisions to provide the option for in class learning, believing it is a better learning and social environment for their students. In a survey, the majority of PWCS parents opted for children to return to school, but not by a large margin. The PWEA plans to release a statement next week. The Prince William County School Board meeting is scheduled for Oct. 7.

This article may be updated at a later time to include more information. 


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