Prince William County Public Schools

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  • September 1, 2021

    Board Briefs - Meeting Summary

    School Board Meeting of September 1, 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:

    • Critical Race Theory (CRT)
    • Citizen participation at School Board Meetings
    • Health and mitigation policies and procedures
    • 2022 Legislative Priorities
    • Athletic waiver process
    • Transparency and communication

    Staff Presentations:

    Superintendent's Time:

    • I am excited to share Division updates during my first regular School Board meeting as the new Superintendent.
    • Last week, we successfully opened the new school year on Monday, August 23, welcoming more than 90,000 students back to school for both in-person and virtual instruction.
    • I'm excited to report that our preliminary total enrollment has exceeded our projections by about 60 students overall, putting us at approximately 90,060. We expect this number may fluctuate over the coming weeks - it's something we will be watching closely - and will be providing regular enrollment updates to that end.
    • I believe that meaningful engagement is requisite for success, and during the first two weeks of school, I had the pleasure of visiting 16 schools, bringing the total number of school visits to 45 since my arrival to the School Division. In addition to these school visits, I've also hosted 18 parent listening sessions at schools throughout the Division, and held 12 listening sessions for staff, engaging with a total of more than 300 different members of the team through that process.
    • During my time listening and learning throughout the School Division, I have acquired a wealth of information about our strengths, as well as opportunities for continuous improvement. I appreciate everyone who has participated thus far in these valuable listening sessions, because as we move forward with the development and implementation of our Strategic Plan, which is currently underway, feedback and buy-in is important.
    • As you may know, we have four working groups to address each of our four key commitments: learning and achievement for all, family and community engagement, positive culture and climate, and organizational coherence. To date, we have 4,100 stakeholders that have provided feedback to the Strategic Plan, and we expect to release our comprehensive Strategic Plan later this fall.
    • In terms of learning in the weeks and months ahead, currently 97 percent of our students are experiencing learning through an in-person educational model. Last week, the state released spring Virginia Standards of Learning scores, and the data makes it clear that the pandemic has seriously impacted student learning. We will always strive for academic progress for every student, so that all students reach their full potential.
    • I believe the academic stakes this year are very high. That's why we have posted our plan to address unfinished learning. The PWCS plan for recovery, acceleration, and re-engagement provides comprehensive academic, social-emotional, and mental health support in schools. The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 will help fund the implementation of this plan. I encourage anyone interested in reviewing the plan to go to our website at www.pwcs.edu. A presentation of the full unfinished learning plan will be shared at the next School Board Meeting, scheduled for September 15.
    • While we have many successes to celebrate, I also recognize some challenges we've experienced within the first two weeks. One of the largest has been transportation and traffic. While most of our more than 600 buses arrived on time, we know this was not true for everyone. I sincerely appreciate the patience of our students and families who have experienced delays.
    • To address the issue, we will continue to maximize our bus routes and work to improve traffic flow, which should help minimize delays. We are also working to address the shortage of bus drivers, which is an issue that school divisions nation-wide are experiencing. Our teams are working to make real-time adjustments based on data, including delay times. We are committed to continuous improvement. In the past week, our overall afternoon drop-off time has improved by 45 minutes. Additionally, 30 new bus drivers are currently in the training process as we work to close the vacancies that exist. Put simply, we are committed to continuous improvement.
    • I also share our community's concern regarding the recent incident that occurred at the conclusion of a sporting event at Freedom High School last Friday. As a School Division, we have been in contact with all impacted school communities to ensure adequate supports have been provided to both students and staff. Our safety and security team has been collaborating with Freedom High School staff to provide support to bolster safety and security practices. We will also be taking advantage of this time to review all safety and security practices for large events throughout the Division.
    • As for some other broad takeaways during my short time as the Superintendent, I have witnessed the true resiliency of our staff, students, and their families in overcoming the difficulties of the ongoing pandemic. I am impressed with our School Division employees, including administrators, teachers, and support staff, as we work collaboratively to reconnect and re-engage our students. I want to thank our entire PWCS community for your diligence in preparing for this school year. I know that together we will make it a success.
    • Finally, safety continues to be a top priority as we work to prevent the spread of COVID-19. PWCS works collaboratively with the Prince William Health District to support COVID-19 contact tracing protocols. At this moment, public health and public education are truly intertwined, and we're remaining extremely diligent. We will continue to follow the science, examine the data, and listen to the experts.
    • When it comes to COVID-19, communication to families, to staff, and to the entire community matters. As a reminder of our processes, only close contacts will receive direct communication if there is a need for student or staff quarantine. In accordance with health data protections, PWCS does not identify individuals who may be treated as having COVID-19. Therefore, general school communications are provided to those who are not close contacts. In addition, the School Division has an anonymous tip line for reporting any safety concerns, including those related to health protocols, so that members of the school community have a way to come forward if they have concerns. The number is 703-791-2821 and can also be found on our website.
    • At this time, I am inviting Denise Huebner, our associate superintendent for special education and student services, to provide an update on the COVID-19 protocols (PDF) for schools.

    Policies:

    First Readings-No action is required on first readings.