Virtual Instructional Program Overview

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In the fall, PWCS will offer in-person learning five days a week to all students across all grade levels K-12 and provide a virtual learning option across all grade levels for those families who requested.

Parents/Guardians were surveyed and asked to make a selection for student learning preference for 2021-22. Current parent survey data indicates 96.4% of our nearly 89,000 students have committed to in-person learning, while 3.6% of our student population requested virtual learning for 2021-22. 

Virtual Learning Models

In order to provide quality virtual learning, while minimizing concurrent teaching, three models for virtual learning have been proposed to meet the needs of each level – elementary, middle, and high school.

Elementary School Model

Virtual learning will be provided for nearly 1,400 students in grades PK-5. The virtual only program will allow students to remain attached to their base schools. Students will be coded as dually enrolled in their base school and in the virtual program. Although students will be assigned to virtual classes with their peers throughout the School Division, their respective base school funds will not be impacted. Students’ academic progress via grades, report cards, and Standards of Learning (SOL) results will remain the responsibility of their base schools.

In order to ensure the highest quality virtual-only program possible, PWCS has partnered with Proximity Learning to offer a virtual learning option. Proximity Learning is a national leader in providing teachers who are experts in virtual teaching. Proximity Learning teachers are certified in Virginia. The teachers will use PWCS curriculum to effectively provide real-time, online, livestreamed virtual instruction for students who have opted to learn virtually. Proximity Learning is grounded in more than 10 years of virtual learning experience.

Primarily, Special Education services will be provided by certified virtual teachers staffed from Proximity Learning in collaboration with the PWCS Special Education case managers. In addition, teacher assistants will provide targeted instructional support.

Virtual instruction will be provided for English Learners. Proximity Learning's certified teachers will reach and teach our ELs.

PWCS will assume full responsibility for the success of the virtual learning option provided to identified students. Utilizing Proximity Learning will also significantly reduce, and in most cases eliminate, the need for concurrent teaching. 

Proximity Learning teachers will partner and collaborate with PWCS teachers. Base schools will adequately staff classes for their full population of students regardless of whether a student is virtual. This will ensure appropriate staffing levels and scheduling for any students who choose to transition from virtual to in-person at any time during the year (as required by the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE).

Students are able to interact with their Proximity Learning teacher just like they would a teacher that is physically in the classroom - they’ll still be doing group work, testing, having one-on-one conversations with their teachers, and more. Proximity Learning teachers also differentiate their lessons based on students’ needs, learning styles, and interests. These are teachers who are truly looking to make a positive impact on everybody they teach.

PWCS elementary virtual only students will be registered into Proximity Learning through their base school. Students will be provided a login by Proximity Learning to access the Proximity Learning portal (Canvas), and their teacher’s Zoom sessions. Proximity Learning teachers will grade students' work and provide feedback similar to an onsite PWCS teacher. The student’s base school will enter the student’s grades and attendance into The Hub for parent/guardian access through ParentVUE.

Middle School Model

All middle school students will remain assigned to their base school for virtual learning. PWCS teachers from the base school will provide virtual instruction utilizing a sixth section. A sixth section will be added, when possible, to create additional virtual sections to minimize the need for concurrent sections. 

Teachers typically teach five classes each day at the middle level. Teachers who “volunteer,” with their principal’s approval, to teach a sixth class will receive a stipend. This will be American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funded and approved on a quarter-by-quarter basis depending on student virtual enrollment needs. 

There will be limited use of concurrent teaching (only for a small number and/or for unique circumstances). Teachers who were previously skilled at concurrent teaching who “volunteer,” with their principal’s approval, will receive a concurrent stipend that is ARPA funded. A temporary teacher assistant will be used to assist with concurrent instruction which is also ARPA funded. 

As an alternative to concurrent instruction, classes may be pooled across three or four middle schools. Schools will have the option of pooling resources to hire a teacher who could teach all virtual only sections. Support for English Learners (EL) and students with disabilities will be provided across all virtual and concurrent models. 

Note: Proximity Learning may be an option for middle schools in the following cases: 

  • Sections in which a teacher “volunteer” and pooling is not available
  • Self-contained Special Education programs
  • Meeting the needs of EL students

Some encore choices may be limited for virtual students. When pooling across schools is not an option, some virtual students may be provided a virtual (non-concurrent) music option immediately after the regular school day. 

Funding for substitutes has been requested should a substitute be needed to help a virtual or concurrent teacher attend meetings and to take their place for any needed duty coverage. 

High School Model

High School students who choose the virtual option will primarily be serviced through Virtual Virginia or Virtual Prince William. For those students opting for classes not offered through these platforms, students have the option of attending these classes in-person. (i.e., Career and Technical Education courses such as plumbing, automotive, etc.).  Students in need of EL and Special Education supports will receive their services using teachers at defined times.

?

If my child starts virtual can they change to in-person?

Per VDOE guidance, PWCS must allow any virtual students to transition seamlessly to an in-person setting at any point.

 

List of Frequently Asked Questions

General

Elementary School

High School

English Learners

Special Education

General

Can students who choose virtual learning return to in-person at any time?
Yes, per the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE), students who choose virtual learning may return to the schoolhouse for in-person learning at any given time. Funding will allow the base schools to staff classes as if the virtual students were in person. A seat will always be available when the virtual student returns to in-person learning. This proactive provision of an in-person seat for all identified virtual students ensures space for students who return to in-person from virtual learning and minimizes disruptions for both the student and school staff.
Will parents be able to have their student(s) go back and forth between virtual and in-person? For example, during a 2-week trip, can parents choose to go virtual?
No, students who are in-person will only be placed in virtual sections for exceptional situations.
Will students who choose virtual be taught by PWCS teachers from their base school?
A small number of PWCS educators will teach virtually. However, in most cases, students who choose the virtual option will be taught by high quality, certified teachers from Proximity Learning. For more than 10 years, Proximity Learning livestreams certified teachers to more than 100 school districts across the United States. Proximity Learning online instruction is always live. With appropriate devices available, students will engage with teachers and their peers, with the ability to work in groups and ask questions in real-time. Based on the number of students projected for virtual learning, approximately 60 Proximity Learning teachers will be needed.

At the middle school level, most virtual students will be taught by PWCS base-school teachers with a small number taught by PWCS teachers from another middle school or Proximity Learning.

The partnership with PWCS and Proximity Learning will ensure alignment through teacher collaboration during common planning with the PWCS curriculum, pacing, and assessments. PWCS principals, the Virtual Option principal, and teachers will monitor instruction, learning, and results.

What are the expectations for virtual attendance and engagement?
  • PWCS families choosing the virtual option for students will be expected to have appropriate levels of supervision provided at home to support students participating in virtual learning activities before, during, and after school hours.
  • Students will follow all aspects of the PWCS Code of Behavior, to include the PWCS dress code. Students are expected to dress appropriately to be on camera.
  • Students will meet class/course assignment deadlines and proactively communicate with their teacher if they are having difficulty in their learning and/or with assignments.
  • Parents/families will check Canvas daily for communication from the teacher(s) regarding student learning expectations and progress and will communicate with the teacher about student needs.
  • Families and students will ensure that the camera is turned on during instruction and learning times. Virtual attendance requires that the teacher be able to see the student as a participant.
  • Unique circumstances involving the turning on of the camera can be addressed through outreach to the teacher and principal. Teachers and principals will work with families to determine the appropriate attendance and participation protocols in these unique circumstances on a case-by-case basis.
  • Families and students may utilize available Division-provided and other appropriate virtual backgrounds as needed.
  • Families will ensure that students fully participate in learning activities through active listening, asking questions when appropriate, contributing to class or group activities, sharing ideas, collaborating with peers, and completing all assigned tasks and assessments.
  • Students will commit to honoring standards of academic integrity by completing their own work and assessments and refraining from cheating and/or plagiarism.
Can students who choose virtual learning participate in out-of-school activities (in-person) like sports, after school tutoring, enrichment, etc.? Will they participate in these activities at their base school?
Yes, based on guidance provided directly from the VDOE, virtual students should be allowed to participate/attend in-person activities held at their base school. These activities may include athletics, tutoring (before or after school), enrichment, science fair, field trips, etc.
Will schools who have students participating in virtual lose funding?
No, schools will not lose funding to support virtual learning. In fact, the federal American Rescue Plan ("ARP") provides funds to support states that were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Thus, ARP will fund most of the virtual learning option.
Who will be accountable for the SOL scores of students receiving virtual instruction?
Student SOL results will be attached to their base school, as will all data used for school accountability. SOL learning and results will be a shared responsibility between PWCS teachers and Proximity Learning teachers.
Who will be responsible for regular parent communication for virtual learners?
Virtual and in-person teachers, as well as the virtual program principal and base school principals, as appropriate, will be responsible for communication with virtual learners and their parents . Division-wide messaging pertinent to all virtual students will continue to be provided by the Office of Communications Services.
Who will host parent conferences for virtual learners?
Parent conferences will vary according to elementary, middle, and high schools. In the elementary schools, the virtual teacher and the PWCS teacher will collaborate on the structure and shared information.

Middle schools will continue with established processes in collaboration with professional school counselors including those schools offering Touch Base student-led conferencing. Counseling services will continue in all cases.

High school virtual students will receive their feedback and updates from Virtual Prince William and Virtual Virginia. However, the base school will check-in with students and families.

What will the teacher to student ratio be for virtual learners?
Virtual service providers will be assigned according to PWCS and state ratios.
Did principals provide input in the plan?
Yes, in the spirit of collaboration and shared decision-making, 10 (a representative sample) elementary principals provided valuable input and feedback to this virtual learning option plan. Middle school principals met on a regular basis with their associates to collaborate. High school principals were instrumental in the development of the high school plan.
Will virtual only students still have access to social and emotional support if needed?
Yes, parent/guardians should contact their student's base school counselor for support as needed. Our school counselors, social workers, psychologists and other mental health professionals stand ready to support our virtual only students.
How will my student receive school counseling lessons?
At each level, students and parent/guardians can anticipate that they will receive access to school counseling curriculum content. Students may participate in "live" synchronous sessions or recorded asynchronous sessions. If you have further questions, do not hesitate to reach out to your student's assigned counselor at his/her base school.
Will encore teachers be required to teach virtually? Will this require concurrent teaching?
No, PWCS encore teachers are not required to teach virtually. We are hiring virtual-only elementary encore teachers for art, music, and physical education. At the middle school level encore, HPE and music teachers who are skilled in concurrent instruction and volunteer to implement this model may teach concurrently. In high schools, the students are taking elective courses through Virtual Virginia and Virtual Prince William as appropriate for their individual schedules.

Elementary School

Will virtual elementary school students remain assigned to their base school?
Yes, students will be “dually enrolled” at their base school and the “Virtual Elementary Program.” Core instruction for students will be through the virtual teacher; however, the base school will be their “responsible” school. The virtual school will work like a program, in that student data will be connected to their base school for reporting and accountability purposes. This format also facilitates a smooth transition from virtual to in-person for any student to switch. We value the relationship that has been established between the student, their families, and the school of record.
Who will be responsible for monitoring instruction and student progress in the virtual elementary school program?
At the Central Office level, associate superintendents monitor instruction with principals. Further, building principals and the virtual program principal are primarily responsible for monitoring instruction and student progress. In collaboration with the principal of the virtual option program, PWCS will provide the expectations for instructional content and minutes (Regulation 602-1). In addition, PWCS will provide Proximity Learning teachers with expectations for homework to ensure a balanced workload for teachers and for students (Regulation 663-1). To ensure consistency and accuracy, Proximity Learning teachers will co-plan with PWCS grade level teachers for common expectations.
Who will be responsible for grade entry for elementary school virtual learners?
In collaboration with the Proximity Learning teachers, the PWCS teachers will be responsible for entering grades. Regulation 661-1 continues to guide grading.

High School

Will any high school courses require concurrent teaching?
Currently, there are no proposed courses that require concurrent teaching. However, in the extreme and rare case that a student may need a sequential elective for graduation, concurrent teaching may be necessary.

High school courses offered at the middle school level may require concurrent teaching. However, only those skilled in concurrent instruction and who volunteer to implement this model may teach concurrently.

Does the base school pay for virtual-only students enrolled in Virtual Virginia?
No, the base school does not pay for Virtual Virginia. Instead, American Rescue Plan (ESSER III) funds will cover the cost of Virtual Virginia. To date, $2.5 million is allocated for Virtual Virginia.
Are parents aware of the limitation in class offerings provided by Virtual Virginia and Virtual Prince William?
As early as June, parents were informed about the plan to only offer Virtual Virginia and Virtual Prince William courses. High school counselors are in contact with individual students regarding their schedules. If a virtual option is not available, the student can take the course in-person. For example, courses for CTE classes such as plumbing, cosmetology, and some lab sciences are in-person classes only.

English Learners (EL)

Will parents of ELs continue to have access to a parent liaison from their base school?
Yes, if their base school has a parent liaison, parents will receive this parental informational resource.
How will English learner (EL) services be provided? Will the base school provide EL services? Will this require concurrent teaching models?
Virtual EL teachers (15) have been allocated for the elementary program.

At the middle school level, English language teachers who are skilled in concurrent instruction and volunteer to implement this model may teach concurrently.

At the high school level, the base schools’ EL teachers will provide instruction for virtual EL learners.

Special Education

How can we ensure that students are being provided Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE)?
The base school’s Individual Education Plan (IEP) teams will meet to propose a FAPE. At the parent(s)/guardian(s) request for virtual instruction, the IEP team will develop an appropriate IEP to meet students’ individual needs.
How will specialized services be provided to virtual students?
  • Primarily, special education services will be provided by certified virtual teachers staffed from Proximity Learning in collaboration with the PWCS special education case managers. In addition, teacher assistants will provide targeted instructional support.
  • All students with Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) will have a PWCS case manager. The case manager will be responsible for collaborating to ensure implementation of the IEP with the virtual service providers.
  • Virtual level two self-contained special education students will be pooled across schools and assigned to a virtual teacher.
  • Level one special education students will be serviced through their base school, with support from PWCS itinerant staff and related service providers as appropriate.
  • At the middle school level, special education teachers who are skilled in concurrent instruction and  volunteer to implement this model may teach concurrently.
  • Speech students and 504 students will be serviced by staff at their base schools.
  • Related services will be provided virtually through the base school and in specialized cases PWCS itinerant staff will supplement.
Will Special Education teachers be required to utilize concurrent teaching?
Special education services will be provided primarily by virtual teachers and teaching assistants in the virtual setting with a goal of eliminating the need for concurrent teaching. Concurrent teaching would only be necessary in rare and unique circumstances to provide a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE).
At the middle school level, special education teachers who are skilled in concurrent instruction and volunteer to implement this model may teach concurrently.
Who will be responsible for developing Individualized Education Plans (IEPs), data collection, and completing progress notes on IEP goals?
The virtual teacher will be responsible for data collection and tracking progress on goals. The virtual teacher will collaborate with the PWCS case manager to develop IEPs and enter progress on goals into the Ed Plan electronic special education system.