October 21, 2020
Posted on 11/05/2020
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School Board Meeting of October 21, 2020

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:

  • Return to School Buildings Plan
  • Health Plan
  • Proposed calendars for 2021-22 school year

Student Matters:

  • Student Senate update
    • Holding virtual town hall meetings for students to share their feedback on virtual learning
    • Feedback is being shared with administrators
  • Top concerns from students
    • Mental health
    • Workload
    • Socialization
  • Ways for students to advocate for themselves
  • Encouragement for teachers to request feedback from their students
  • Importance of parents checking on their students
  • How turning cameras on and participating in class can help with socialization and learning

Staff Presentation Topics:

  • 2020-21 Annual School Calendar (PDF) and calendar options (PDF)
  • "Potomac Shores" Middle School naming (PDF), including all suggested names (PDF) and community input (PDF)
  • Update from the Superintendent regarding the revised Returning to School Buildings plan (PDF) presented October 7, 2020, including recommended dates for the return of all students to in-person learning:
    • I appreciate the opportunity to share our Return to School Buildings plan.
    • You will hear more specific health metrics in a few minutes, but I want to update you based on our COVID-19 dashboard, which you can find at pwcs.edu.
    • Since school began, PWCS has reported more than 100 positive cases of the COVID-19 virus. Some of those cases have affected individuals currently working or attending school in-person, and many of those cases have been in individuals working or learning virtually.
    • It is important to note that as we prepare to bring students back for in-person learning in November, had all 100 of these cases been in-person cases, we would have had people in quarantine at 57 schools or offices in our Division, which is more than half of our total schools, which is a concern.
    • Many people have also mentioned their concern for the mental health of our students during this pandemic. This work is led by Associate Superintendent Denise Huebner, who also chairs our Pandemic Team. I would like to address that concern and have invited Rebekah Schlatter, director of student services, Dr. Deborah Ransom, supervisor of elementary school counseling, and Dr. Richmond Hill, supervisor of secondary school counseling, to share more information on this critical service.
    • Thank you, Ms. Huebner, Ms. Schlatter, Dr. Ransom, and Dr. Hill, for sharing this information.
    • In a few minutes I will be sharing more details on the return to in-person learning in our school buildings for our middle and high school students. I have asked Bill Bixby, associate superintendent for middle schools, Catherine Porter-Lucas, principal of Gainesville Middle School, and Jim Dutrow, principal of Lake Ridge Middle School, to share efforts being made for the safe return of our middle school students to the school buildings.
    • Thank you, Mr. Bixby, Ms. Porter-Lucas, and Mr. Dutrow.
    • As we prepare for our youngest students to return to the school buildings, I would like everyone to know that every kindergarten teacher who does not already have an assistant will have an additional staff member in the classroom to help manage our students during the first eight days.
    • Furthermore, the Division hired two nurses, and will be hiring five additional health aides who will report directly to Teresa Polk, supervisor of Student Health Services, to be used across the Division as needed.
    • Now I would like to re-introduce Denise Huebner, associate superintendent for Special Education and Student Services, Teresa Polk, supervisor of Student Health Services, and Gina Bellamy, administrative coordinator of Student Health Services, who will provide you an update on our health metrics.
    • Thank you, Ms. Huebner, Ms. Polk and Ms. Bellamy.
    • At the last School Board meeting, I shared plans to bring back our youngest students to the school buildings beginning next month. The School Board has asked me to provide information on the return of our middle and high school students to in-person learning in our school buildings.
    • It is important to note that the Return to School Buildings plan is tentative based on health metrics and available staffing at the time.
    • My plan is to have sixth and ninth grade students, House A, return to in-person learning in school buildings, two-days per week, beginning January 26, 2021. House B will return on January 27.
    • With the initial phasing in of sixth and ninth grade students, instruction and transportation would need to evaluate and determine if a one-run bus schedule can continue or if a two-run bus schedule would need to be implemented on January 26.
    • The high school students would revert back to a start time of 7:30 a.m. on January 26.
    • The asynchronous days for student learning will continue every Monday, with the exception of President’s Day in February.
    • Again, based on health metrics and availability of staff, seventh, eighth, 10th, 11th, and 12th grade students, House A, will return to in-person learning in school buildings, two days per week, beginning February 2, 2021. House B will return on February 3.
    • Middle and high school teachers will report in person, beginning on January 25 to prepare classrooms, check technology, and assist with preparation. Exceptions to in-person reporting will be made by the principal or his or her designee on a case-by-case basis.
    • We have kept our Division health plan updated to ensure we are implementing the best measures possible to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
      Thank you.
    • My wish is for our entire PWCS community to stay safe and healthy.

Superintendent's Time:

  • I appreciate the opportunity to update the School Board, staff members, parents, students, and community members on the education and other important work occurring during this pandemic.
  • First, during a pandemic, it is always great to receive some good news about the Division. The National Procurement Institute has awarded Prince William County Public Schools (PWCS) the 2020 Achievement of Excellence in Procurement Award for excellence in public procurement practices. This is especially relevant, as the School Division has received CARES pandemic funding to purchase much needed personal protective equipment (PPE), technology, and instructional support items. PWCS is one of only 22 school divisions in the country to receive this award. Congratulations to our purchasing staff for this outstanding achievement.
  • I would also like to give a shout out to the staff members who work in Information Technology Services. They have been working on Sundays to upgrade our network to ensure we have a system in place that supports virtual learning during this pandemic. Thank you so much for your dedication and hard work toward this important effort.
  • I also want to commend our Food and Nutrition Services Staff, who reached the 4.2 million-meals-served mark this week. They have been such a critical piece of support for our families during this pandemic, preparing and distributing free meals. Today on behalf of our students and our community, I attended our Food Service managers meeting. I was able to personally thank our over 100 managers for the World-Class job they are providing to our community.
  • Last Thursday night, I had the pleasure of presenting and participating virtually in a Q-and-A session regarding the pandemic and our Return to School Building plan with over 70 parents on the Superintendent’s Advisory Council on Instruction.
  • I would like to share a special thanks to officers Karen Martin and Vanessa Olson for their tireless work.
  • I also had the pleasure of participating in the Reading Recovery Institute. Over 100 reading specialists, teachers, and administrators participated, and this professional development benefits both in-person and virtual learning. These literacy leaders worked with the nationally recognized Dr. Gravity Goldberg to help students become independent and proficient readers, writers, and thinkers so they can be successful in school, careers, and life.
  • Division professional development staff members are also working very hard to prepare our teachers and staff for the return of our students for in-person learning, with multiple opportunities for our staff to hone-in their skills.
  • On October 12, more than 850 educators attended the English Learner and Equity Virtual Summit offered by the Department for Student and Professional Learning. Webinar sessions covered topics such as virtual instruction for English learners and diverse populations, students with limited or interrupted formal education, education equity for diverse students, collaborative assessment, differentiation, relationship building, social-emotional learning, literacy for English learners, meeting the needs of English learners with disabilities, and concurrent and hybrid teaching. I heard several positive reviews of this professional development opportunity and know it will positively impact our students.
  • The Department for Student and Professional Learning is also offering a variety of professional learning opportunities to support educators with the changing teaching and learning environments during this global pandemic. The professional learning opportunities are being offered in a variety of formats to accommodate different adult learning styles.
  • These opportunities include sessions on the following topics: teaching through and strategies for simultaneous or concurrent, hybrid, and virtual instruction; moving from crisis virtual instruction to applying wisdom and evidence to visible learning; teacher-student relationships, participation basics, interactive strategies, and classroom structure for simultaneous, concurrent teaching.
  • Thank you.

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