October 6, 2021
Posted on 10/08/2021

Board Briefs - Meeting Summary

School Board Meeting of October 6, 2021

View the agenda on the Electronic School Board webpage.
Watch the School Board meeting on PWCS-TV.

The School Board Approved:

Citizens addressed the School Board on the following topics:

  • Racial and Social Justice Commission
  • Staff payroll and compensation
  • COVID-19 mitigation protocols
  • Curriculum and culturally responsive teaching
  • In-person learning opportunities and field trips
  • Decorum at School Board meetings
  • Transportation of students on school buses

Student Representative Matters:

  • Student participation in extracurricular activities
  • Treatment of Prince William County Public Schools (PWCS) facilities and buildings

Superintendent's Time:

  • I would like to begin the superintendent’s report with gratitude. The past six weeks have been filled with many successes as well as some challenges. Thanks to the hard work and dedication of the entire school community, our students are continuing to learn alongside their peers both virtually and in person. It has been a joy to witness and there is so much to be proud of this school year.
  • We opened two new schools this school year. Last week, I attended Gainesville High School’s ribbon cutting, and I am looking forward to another ribbon cutting tomorrow night at Potomac Shores Middle School. I enjoy participating in events that celebrate the growth of our School Division and community, as well as state-of-the art facilities for our students and schools.
  • We continue to grapple with the complexities of COVID-19 and remain committed to implementing layered mitigation strategies. Tonight, the School Board approved contracts for the procurement of air purifiers and water bottle fillers. This will allow us to add air purifiers to all of our portable classrooms and begin the process of replacing water fountains with water bottle fillers throughout the Division. 
  • We are also pleased to announce that we are partnering with the Prince William County Service Authority, who is generously donating 1,000 water bottles for students who may need them. We appreciate this partnership tremendously. The air purifiers and water bottle fillers will support our efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
  • Quarantine is an additional effective mitigation technique, and we will continue to follow guidance from the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) on appropriate quarantine processes. When quarantine is necessary, it is always our goal to return our students to the classroom as quickly and safely as possible.
  • Following VDH quarantine guidelines, there are opportunities to reduce quarantine times for students who are healthy. If a student must quarantine, they can test on the fifth day, allowing them to return to school after the seventh day. We also encourage parents to share with schools when their student is ill, and that illness has been confirmed that is it not COVID.
  • Additionally, we are working diligently to connect our families to community resources to provide support, and as a School Division we have signed up for the VDH Virginia School Screening Testing for Assurance (ViSSTA) program to support additional COVID-19 testing.
  • It is also important to note that currently, 1.2 percent of the students in the Division are in quarantine. This is comparable to other school divisions and a very small percentage of the overall school population, which is close to 90,000 students attending in person.
  • Most of the students required to quarantine are not eligible for the vaccination, which is why we are excited about last week’s news from Pfizer. We now have data that confirms the two-dose vaccine is safe for children ages 5-11. This is critically important as some of our elementary-aged students will soon be eligible for vaccination. We will continue following the science closely and urge everyone to get vaccinated when eligible. We know this is the best mitigation strategy and eliminates the need for quarantine in most cases.
  • I am excited to share an update that will have a positive impact on our staff members who have been working so hard during the pandemic to provide a quality education to our students. PWCS will now permit employees with accrued sick leave to use up to four weeks for “baby bonding” in addition to the paid leave for the medically necessary period (for the parent giving birth).
  • Both parents are eligible to use accrued sick leave for up to four weeks paid leave for “baby bonding.” The changes are effective immediately. This recommendation was based on employee suggestions and as part of the continuing PWCS commitment to creating a positive climate and culture for all employees.
  • We will continue to listen to our employees and respond to their feedback, this includes acknowledging that school buses continue to be a challenge as we struggle with staffing shortages that are experienced by school divisions nationwide. We acknowledge that we are aware of employees remaining beyond contract hours to supervise students due to bus delays. We are working toward a resolution to address these challenges as quickly as possible. We value the hard work of all of our employees and appreciate their unwavering commitment and will continue to be responsive to their needs.
  • Prince William County Public Schools’ responsibility - and my personal commitment - is to ensure every student in the Division feels a sense of belonging and has access to safe spaces that are conducive to learning.
  • Earlier this year, the General Assembly passed the Virginia Human Rights Act requiring the policies of educational institutions, including Prince William County Public Schools, to safeguard all individuals within the Commonwealth from unlawful discrimination because of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions, age, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, military status, or disability in places of public accommodation.
  • The School Board is updating Policy 738 in accordance with Virginia Law. This update ensures the Division’s policy statements pertaining to nondiscrimination are consistent with state law and extend to transgender and gender nonconforming students. The policy also makes clear that Prince William County Public Schools are required by state law to implement the Virginia Department of Education’s Model Policies for Treatment of Transgender Students in Virginia’s Public Schools.
  • PWCS administration is studying our current regulation in response to feedback from staff and community members. Based upon additional review, the regulation associated with Policy 738 will be re-issued with the goal of addressing concerns raised while also ensuring alignment with the VDOE Model Policies for Treatment of Transgender Students in Virginia’s Public Schools. Additionally, training for staff will be delivered this school year.
  • All PWCS students have a fundamental right to access educational programs and facilities that are safe and supportive of their physical, emotional, social, and academic needs. It is our mission to ensure every school community is inclusive and students have a sense of belonging and are affirmed in their identity. This is the only way we can ensure a positive and welcoming environment where every student can learn, graduate, and thrive.

Board Matters:

  • Racial and Social Justice Commission Update

Policies:

First Readings-No action is required on first readings. 

  • Revision of Policy 651 (PDF), “School Counseling Services, Elementary, Middle, and High School”
  • Revision of Policy 738 (PDF), “Nondiscrimination and Harassment of Students"