November 18, 2020
Posted on 12/03/2020
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School Board Meeting of November 18, 2020

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

The School Board Approved:

  • The Milestone Communications Deed of Lease Agreement (PDF) for a telecommunication tower located at Woodbridge Middle School. Further, the Chairman At-Large and Clerk of the School Board are authorized to sign any necessary documents pertaining to the Agreement, subject to approval as to form only by the Division Counsel;
  • The November 4, 2020 School Board meeting minutes (PDF); and
  • The November 9, 2020 Board Poll for the sole source award for Renaissance Learning myON Licenses to Renaissance Learning, Inc. in the amount of $389,230.00. The subject sole source is a requirement contract to provide a ready source software license for access to the largest integrated collection of digital books to PWC students and professional development services at each school. These requirements are funded with operational funds from CARES Act CRF grant funding.

Citizens addressed the School Board on the following topics:

  • Return to School Buildings Plan

Student Matters:

  • Updates on the Student Senate
  • Congrats to the 2020 Youth Salute nominees
  • Virtual learning tips for students

Staff Presentation Topics:

  • Health and Wellness: Supporting our Staff During the Pandemic (PDF)
  • Update on the Governor's School @ Innovation Park
  • Superintendent’s update on the pandemic and health services update (PDF)
    • In my pandemic update, I have a few key points to highlight, I will then turn it over to Associate Superintendent for Student Services and Special Education, Denise Huebner, and Supervisor of Student Health Services, Teresa Polk, to provide a more detailed update.
    • We continue to monitor COVID-19 in the county, state, and country very closely, and the trend is one of increasing transmission of COVID-19.
    • At this time, I am not recommending any changes to our operations, this is due in large part to the limited numbers of students we have in the building currently coupled with our extensive mitigation efforts.
    • However, it is very important to note, as I mentioned at the last School Board meeting, we will continue to monitor the situation and should more indicators reach the highest levels, changes to operations could occur that could include recommendations to delay further return of students or other mitigations.
    • We will continue to share the latest COVID-19 information on pwcs.edu, where it is updated daily.
    • I will update the School Board as soon as possible, should changes be recommended.
    • On Friday, November 13, Governor Northam announced further mitigation strategies including a gathering restriction of no more than 25 individuals and a face covering mandate for everyone over five years old.
    • Ms. Huebner and Ms. Polk will provide further details in just a moment.
    • We still plan to move forward with the upcoming high school sports season as permitted by the Virginia High School League, however, due to the Governor’s restriction on gathering size, PWCS will not be allowing spectators. We will be offering on-demand live streaming of games via a contracted service for a small fee - that is less than the typical gate entry fee - details will be sent to families this week.
    • I personally remain highly concerned with the rising numbers and remain committed to return to in-person learning for all students as soon as possible. The best support our students, families, and employees can provide is to wear a face covering and please do not come to work or school if you have any symptoms.
    • I will now turn it over to Ms. Huebner (see health services update (PDF)).

Superintendent's Time:

  • I appreciate the opportunity to update the School Board, staff members, parents, students, and community members on the important work occurring during this pandemic.
  • The pandemic created several unique challenges this year for the November 3rd election. In Prince William County, 70 schools, as well as the Kelly Leadership Center, served as voting locations on election day. I would like to thank all those involved in the operations of the election, including our school administrators, facilities services staff, and custodians, who collaborated with election staff to best accommodate the voters. It is appreciated.
  • Last week our country recognized Veterans Day, and it is amazing to me the number of staff members who are Veterans. In fact, one of the people playing a key role in our response to the pandemic is a veteran. (Play Veterans Spotlight – Theresa Polk video for more information)
  • Last Tuesday, November 10, as we welcomed back pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students, I had the opportunity to visit two schools. My first visit was to Pattie Elementary School, where a small number of buses were pulling up to deliver our students. I had the opportunity to participate in a live interview with John Gonzalez from WJLA, Channel 7, about our “second” first day of the school year. Staff and students at Pattie Elementary were very excited, and all were wearing face coverings and practicing social distancing. The staff members were holding welcome signs and using pom poms to cheer for the arrival of the students. I visited three kindergarten classrooms, and I was impressed with our teachers’ flexibility and positivity regarding the simultaneous teaching.
  • I also stopped by Kyle Wilson Elementary School, where members of the fire department, who worked at Kyle Wilson’s firehouse, were greeting students. I visited classrooms there and continued to be impressed with the teachers’ use of technology to include the students learning from home. In one classroom, the teacher was using a song to teach the alphabet. I checked in on the students learning virtually, and they were excited and engaged. The simultaneous teaching in this classroom was seamless. It was very impressive, and I am proud at how our teachers have embraced simultaneous teaching. (Check out the video of our first day back for our pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students).
  • On Monday of this week, students in advanced coursework for five career and technical education programs returned to in-person learning, including students in the firefighting academy and agriculture/horticulture program. Six additional CTE programs will return for in-person learning on December 7 as identified in the hybrid in-person start date schedule, health conditions permitting.
  • Yesterday, I visited Bel Air Elementary School and talked to several staff members, who said they appreciated the availability of PPE and enjoyed being back in the classroom. The atmosphere there was very positive. When I asked about how the simultaneous learning is going, more than one teacher said, “it is getting better each day.”
  • Even during a pandemic, our schools continue to earn recognition. The International Society for Technology in Education has recognized Prince William County Public Schools with a Distinguished District Award. PWCS is one of only three school divisions in the nation being recognized. The Distinguished District Award is awarded to school districts that demonstrate effectiveness and innovation in the use of educational technology, ensure equitable, accessible and appropriate learning opportunities for all students, aimed at improving outcomes and increasing engagement, and exhibit a progressive mindset when it comes to challenges in education. This award is exemplified by our accelerated implementation of our one-to-one technology plan and improvement of home internet access to support virtual instruction. Congratulations to Matt Guilfoyle, associate superintendent for Communications and Technology Services, A.J. Phillips, director of Information Technology Services, our entire IT staff and all our school-based instructional technology coaches and our technology support specialists for earning this outstanding recognition.
  • And speaking of technology, Kyle Wilson Elementary School has also earned recognition during the pandemic. For the second consecutive year, Microsoft has selected Kyle Wilson as a 2020-21 Showcase School for the school’s commitment and success with using technology in teaching. Congratulations.
  • Another shining star during this pandemic is Adam Russo, director of Food and Nutrition Services. Since March 16, when schools were closed due to the pandemic, Mr. Russo and his amazing staff have served 7.5 million meal equivalents to students and their families in Prince William County. We learned last week that Basic American Foods has recognized Mr. Russo with a Foodservice Achievement Management Excellence (FAME) Silver Leadership Award. The FAME awards recognize outstanding heroes in K-12 foodservice who raise industry standards by tackling challenges and making a difference within their school districts and communities. Congratulations to Mr. Russo.
  • Thank you and stay safe and healthy.