Reston, VA

Although schools will remain closed through the academic year due to a state order, Fairfax County Public Schools will kick off distance learning on April 14.

Beginning next week, teachers will receive virtual training to begin the transition. Last week, elementary and middle school principals met with the school system’s leadership to receive updates on the overall plan for resuming instruction.

“Launching a distance learning plan to reach 189,000 students that engages nearly 16,000 classroom teachers is a complex challenge. We acknowledge that distance learning cannot reasonably replace daily in-person instructional programs, and we will not be trying to replicate the regular school day,” FCPS Superintendent Scott Brabard wrote in a letter to parents yesterday (Thursday).

The board is will consider the distance learning plan, graduation requirements and other matters related to COVID-19 at a special meeting today (Friday) at 11 a.m.

Challenges to transition to distance learning include how to best support special student populations, receiving copyright permissions to broadcast and print materials, and the limited availability of technology for learning.

The proposal includes closing all third-quarter grades as of March 13 and assigning a “no mark” for the fourth quarter to “allow students’ work in the 4th quarter to positively influence their final grades” for high school and middle school students.

For elementary school students, no fourth-quarter grades will be assigned “due to equity issues of access to technology and limited student ability to submit work.”

The Virginia Department of Education says it will ensure seniors who are on-track to graduate as of the school systems’ closure will graduate on time.

High school students will participate in teacher-led instruction and independent learning. Teachers are expected to contact students beginning next week.

Middle school students will receive learning packets for language arts, math, science, and social studies. Virtual, teacher-led instruction will be conducted for these four classes. Teachers for electives will post learning activities to Blackboard.

Elementary school students will also distribute learning packets to students beginning this week. Teacher-student engagement online will be emphasized, as well as teacher check-ins, phone calls and emails with students. Parents will also receive a published schedule of instruction from school principals.

Draft proposals before the board on learning schedules are below.

Students enrolled in special education programs will have access to resources online as well. More information about other programs, including guidance for English to Speakers of Others Languages, is available online.

The distribution of 15,000 wireless hotspots and laptops for students in need has already begun. Braband said other details on the distance learning plan are expected to be released in the coming days.

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