PWCS continues to work on a return to new learning plan for the 2020-21 school year
A collection of school supplies.  Text: PWCS Update on the 2020-21 year

Prince William County Public Schools (PWCS) continues to work on a return to new learning plan for the 2020-21 school year

A Return to New Learning Task Force, including multiple work/focus groups, with 90 members representing principals, teachers, support staff, and central leadership, as well as parents (e.g. Instruction, Equity, Special Education, Safe Schools, Gifted Advisory Councils), has been working to provide valuable input and develop draft plans that prioritize the health and safety of all students and staff while delivering equitable, high-quality new learning in the fall. For example, in support of putting the health and safety of students and staff as a top priority, principals at every level were asked to conduct classroom-by-classroom assessments utilizing 6 feet of distancing measurements to determine furniture placement and the maximum number of students who can be in every space while maintaining the social distancing. Similar health and safety assessments are occurring across the Division to include bus transportation safety assessments.

In addition, PWCS parent survey and school-based staff surveys have been distributed. These survey results, in addition to results from the survey conducted by the Prince William Education Association, will inform the creation of the plan. An additional survey for parents will be conducted in mid-July after the return to new learning plan is adopted. The Department for Human Resources will be gathering information from every employee to determine employee needs and will work with employees who may be in high-risk health categories and/or require ADA accommodations.

PWCS must consider the multitude of requirements from the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE), Virginia Department of Health (VDH), Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Virginia High School League (VHSL), and other organizations overseeing all school divisions’ plans for returning to learning. PWCS leaders are also collaborating with the Prince William School Board to ensure this plan is comprehensive and thoughtful.

As the process progresses, the School Board will be receiving updates in preparation for a work session on July 8. The School Board is scheduled to vote on the return to new learning plan on July 15, with communication of the plan to staff, students, families, and the community immediately following.

 

June 3, 2020

At this time, we expect to open for in-person learning, as regularly scheduled on August 25. However, PWCS is developing an extensive plan for the potential for required virtual learning, as well as various operational scenarios, and the associated health and safety considerations for staff and students.

The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) and the Virginia State Superintendent are expected to provide guidance within a month to schools regarding guidelines and requirements for safe opening of schools this fall.

Representative parents are being brought together later this spring to virtually review, discuss, and provide focused input regarding the reopening of schools and our Return to New Learning plan. The plan includes contingencies for in-person, a combination of in-person and distance learning for students who do not or cannot return in person, and an option for the potential for required distance learning if schools are unable to reopen for in-person learning.

The learning plan has logistical and health/safety considerations needed to address the prevention of the spread of COVID-19, as well as responses to support any further closures occurring as a result of possible future outbreaks or other emergencies.

It is important to note that our 2020-21 Return to New Learning Plan will continue to be adjusted as we get further decisions and guidance from the Governor and VDOE over the course of this spring and summer.

With the input of representative teachers, school leaders, and central office staff, the Division has developed a Return to New Learning Plan with two main road maps: Late Spring and Summer Preparation for the Return to New Learning and multiple contingencies for the actual Return to New Learning 2020-21.

The spring and summer 2020 preparation road map is focused on developing our new Virtual Schoolhouse using Canvas, which is a best-in-class learning management system (LMS). Canvas will unify our online learning and curriculum delivery using a series of integrated tools to enhance distance learning for every student.

To support all elements of the instructional cycle, an integrated Division-wide assessment system for monitoring student learning and achievement will be deployed within the LMS solution. MasteryConnect is a digital, online, and integrated assessment system with Standards of Learning aligned items banks featuring robust reporting capabilities. It can be utilized for performance-based, formative, summative, and benchmark assessments in all courses at all levels.

The development and use of collaborative, cross-department action work groups, including teachers and administrators, will be assigned to specific aspects of the plan to gain further stakeholder input on the implementation for students, staff, and families.

In anticipation of the need to do required virtual learning this fall, PWCS is working to conduct another procurement of laptops at the start of the fiscal year which is a part of our approved budget.

This purchase, combined with the previously announced procurement, will allow us to complete the digital equity plan implementation of having a consistent device for every high school student by November.

We also believe that we will be able to provide a device to every high school student who needs one for at-home learning, using both new devices and existing devices, at the start of the fall 2020-21 academic year.

As plans become clearer and more solidified, additional communications will be shared with the community in the coming weeks.