Prince William County Public Schools

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  • September 15, 2021

    Board Briefs - Meeting Summary

    School Board Meeting of September 15, 2021

    View the agenda on the Electronic School Board webpage.

    Watch the School Board meeting on PWCS-TV.

    The School Board Approved:

    Student Representative Matters:

    • Introduction of the 2021-22 Student Representatives to the School Board
    • Improved mental health in schools

    Superintendent's Time:

    • Thank you for providing me with the time to share a few informational items.
    • First, over the past several weeks, I remain incredibly encouraged by our school community -- our students, educators, caregivers, and staff members. Everyone has worked incredibly hard to make the first few weeks of school a success -- and they have been just that, a success.
    • I have had the chance to travel across the Division, and I must say, the highlight of my time here has been my visits to schools to meet with students and employees.
    • Each visit is a reminder of the importance of our work to make education safe and accessible to our Division's 90,000 students, particularly during this unique moment in educational history.
    • As you know, the defining characteristic of this unique moment is the global pandemic, and it is very important to all of us that we continue to implement measures that keep our students and their families, and our staff members safe.
    • One new step we plan to take is assigned seating on buses for students. That is an atypical step, but these are atypical times.
    • Assigned seating for students to and from school will help us track and trace the virus should there be a probable positive or positive case of COVID-19. That assigned seating will help us identify those who may need to quarantine if they are in close contact. We believe it's a necessary and common-sense step.
    • And on the subject of buses, while we continue to lift up our educators and praise school staff for all the heroic efforts that they do, I also want to recognize those who help make our Division move and get our 90,000 young people to and from school each day.
    • To our bus drivers across Prince William County, I want to say thank you. Thank you for being such an integral part of our school system and valued member of our community. Our schools could not operate without you.
    • I also want to briefly discuss our recent staff announcement about the vaccine, which this Board is voting on tonight. I want to explain the rationale for it, why it matters to us as a district, and why it is student-focused.
    • This school year, I believe that public health and public education are directly linked. To be successful in the classroom and to deliver great educational outcomes for children, we need to follow the science, examine the data, and listen to the scientific experts.
    • When it comes to the pandemic, scientists are unequivocal in their message: getting the vaccine is the best way to protect you and those around you. As of June, 96 percent of doctors were fully vaccinated, according to the American Medical Association.
    • And while members of the public may have been hesitant to get their shots because vaccines were authorized on an emergency basis, in recent weeks, the Food and Drug Administration has given full authorization for the Pfizer vaccine.
    • This demonstrates that the data is fully in, it's been fully reviewed, and the vaccine is indeed safe.
    • As such, we are making a requirement for vaccinations or testing.
    • President Biden has called for states nationwide to mandate vaccinations for teachers. Education Secretary Cardona has called for it. And districts nationwide have responded.
    • As of September 7, two states and Puerto Rico have required all teachers to get vaccinated. Another seven states and the District of Columbia have said teachers must get vaccinated or undergo regular testing.
    • Even the Secretary of Defense and the Pentagon are moving forward with some type of vaccination requirement for the nation's 1.4 million service members.
    • And in recent days, Los Angeles Unified School District voted to require all eligible students in the 12 and above age group, not just staff but also students, to get vaccinated in order to attend school.
    • And for us in Prince William County, here's what I believe our proposal means. We know this is the right thing to do for children and for those students who have selected an in-person option for learning, our objective is to keep our children in classrooms so that we can accelerate learning.
    • Vaccinations don't just protect individual educators. They protect our students and our communities as well. They prevent infection and mitigate spread, and they will prevent children from either contracting the virus, or quarantining.
    • All of it adds up to keeping children in school and more in-person learning time, which is more critical than ever.
    • I now want to turn your attention to the nationwide unfinished learning that has been caused by the global pandemic. The academic challenges that students everywhere face, as a result of the pandemic, are daunting.
    • But despite obstacles, we are optimistic because we have a clear plan in place to accelerate learning for students.
    • To that end, I'd like to introduce Rita Goss, associate superintendent for student and professional learning, to walk you through our plan (PDF) for how we will utilize federal funding to execute our strategy for learning gaps so that all children succeed.