The coronavirus threat has left more than 90,000 students in Prince William County Public Schools without classroom instruction for roughly a month, and that's if they return as planned April 14.
Superintendent Steve Walts announced Friday that teachers are allowed to provide instructional online resources to students, but should not assign any required work or give any grades until at least students return to class.
All due dates for student work have been pushed back until at least April 14, or when schools eventually reopen.
All work online during school closings is optional. Officials stressed the goal is not to assign busy work, worksheets or large packets to students and families.
"Our instructional resources and guidance take into consideration that students may have other responsibilities like providing daycare, caring for sick family members, going to work, or dealing with their own health challenges," according to the division. "We do not want parents and students to think that they are required to have a full day of instruction or replicate the school day."
Teachers are asked to work remotely — not attending schools — beginning March 23.
Division staff will provide online resources and activities through April 3. Spring break is scheduled for April 6-10, with April 13 scheduled as a teacher and staff work day.
Due to school closings amid the coronavirus pandemic, it is likely Standards of Learning tests will be canceled for the 2019-2020 school year.
Officials with the Virginia Department of Education announced plans earlier this week to seek waivers to federal testing requirements, and the U.S. Department of Education announced Friday it would grant waivers if students were impacted by school closures in response to the coronavirus, according to a news release.
*The full message from Prince William County Public Schools*
Dear PWCS Parents and Guardians, and Students,
We are keenly aware that staff, students, and families are under unprecedented pressure and stress. Our instructional resources and guidance take into consideration that students may have other responsibilities like providing daycare, caring for sick family members, going to work, or dealing with their own health challenges. We do not want parents and students to think that they are required to have a full day of instruction or replicate the school day.
Given the high-level of stress everyone faces, we also want staff, students, and families to consider balancing time with schoolwork, screens, and the need for physical activity. Teachers of all levels, including those of advanced courses, should evaluate the educational value of any assignment.
Additionally, under the Governor’s school-closing order, it is important for us to ensure we adhere to Free and Appropriate Education (FAPE) rules and do not create circumstances that create equitable-access concerns.
All PWCS staff have been directed to adhere strictly to the following:
Minimize student stress - do not assign new work to students at this difficult time.
No new graded work should be assigned until further notice (at least April 14).
All due dates of previously assigned work should be pushed to at least April 14, or beyond.
All work is optional during this time.
Teachers can work with students on making connections, on thinking, and critical questioning.
The goal is not to give large packets, busy work, or worksheets.
Teachers can and should give helpful growth-producing feedback to students, but not assign any letter or numerical grades.
In support of state superintendent guidance, PWCS will use the following phased approach to support the continuity of learning for our students while they are at home (this is subject to change based on circumstances).
Phase 1: March 13, 2020 - Books, materials, instruments, and other resources were sent home prior to the closure of schools.
Phase 2: March 19, 2020 - Online academic resources, suggested free apps, offline activity ideas, optional daily schedules, and parent tips were posted by our Student and Professional Learning team to our new PWCS Home Learning page.
Phase 3: March 23, 2020 – March 27, 2020 - Teachers and staff will be asked to “return to work” virtually (not to report to buildings) and follow the guidance further down in this message for working from home.
a. Virtual Prince William may resume with students currently enrolled, with optional classes, no new assignments, and with no graded assignments due until after April 14.
b. Dual Enrollment teachers are asked to follow the direction of the associated college or university regarding resuming online instruction. At this time, dual enrollment graded assignments will only be assigned and entered relative to the college/university and not for PWCS. A message will be sent to students and parents of dual enrollment students with additional details.
c. Understanding the unique nature of advanced courses, teachers can work with their students to prepare for the May/June assessment from the College Board/IB or CIE. However, this work must be optional and review only. Teachers can provide growth-producing feedback but no grading. AP College Board has additional information on their website.
Phase 4: March 30, 2020 – April 3, 2020 - All instructional staff will begin providing ungraded learning resources/activities on their online platform. Staff Communities pages are being currently updated to include a variety of resources to support teachers in this effort. Parents can access these pages through each school’s webpage. The Home Learning webpage will also continue to be updated with additional resources.
April 6 – 10: Spring Break as planned.
April 13 – Teacher and staff workday.
April 14 – Students and Staff Report – this is subject to change based on new guidance from state or national officials.
Note: Future phases of learning support for students will be added as COVID-19 circumstances change. We know that this doesn’t answer every question and we will continue to provide further details and clarification in the coming days.
Additionally, our Student and Professional Learning team is starting a Twitter campaign entitled #PWCSReads. Teachers and school leaders will be asked to post videos of books being read aloud that can be accessed by students and families. Parents can select the videos that are most appropriate for their child’s age. This campaign will promote literacy and will help everyone to stay connected.
Please know that we truly care and will continue to support all students and their families during this challenging time.
We sincerely thank you for your continued support and partnership.