Virtual PLUS+ News Release - July 31, 2020
A Thoughtful Model for Fall Reopening
Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) has worked collaboratively, methodically and strategically with our citywide Thought Partners and Cross-Functional Planning Teams to determine the most feasible reopening model to begin the 2020-21 academic year using Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state guidelines.
Following months of research, community engagement and strategizing, Superintendent Dr. Gregory C. Hutchings, Jr. is proposing a feasible model that brings the classroom into the home and aligns with the 2025 Strategic Plan, which places equity at the center of every decision.
Our most feasible model, Virtual PLUS+, is a robust online learning experience that will engage students 100% virtually and provide additional supports for students, staff and families.
The virtual academic program will include a structured bell schedule, daily live instruction with teachers, and additional academic supports for some of our most vulnerable students, including one-on-one or small group tutoring.
To enable students to fully participate in learning, all students in pre-K through first grade will receive age-appropriate technology in the form of electronic tablets, and students in grades 2-12 will receive Chromebooks. Childcare options will also be offered for those families who need it through the assistance of our community partners. We are working collaboratively with our community partners to provide more specific details about these child care options and will share additional information over the next couple of weeks.
Paramount to the decision-making process was the adherence to CDC and state guidelines, designed to safeguard the health of our students, staff, and families during the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Friday, Aug. 7, the Virtual PLUS+ reopening proposal will be presented to the Alexandria City School Board to vote on before submission to the Virginia Department of Education on Aug. 14.
Dr. Hutchings said, “After much careful consideration of the facts as they stand today, we feel confident that Virtual PLUS+ will provide a quality educational experience worthy of our children while keeping the health and safety of our students, staff and families in mind. This model places equitable access for all at the heart and ensures that we can build a framework that addresses the needs of specific groups of students to ensure they stay on course this fall.”
“This, combined with a highly successful summer learning program, means that any learning loss caused by the closure of school buildings due to the global pandemic will be drastically mitigated.”
ACPS believes that the Virtual PLUS+ model is a strong launchpad from which to build as the division continues to plan for the return of in-person schooling as soon as it is feasible.
The “PLUS+” includes:
- Enhanced and formalized social, emotional and academic learning supports
- Childcare options with community partners
- Continued meal distribution
- Expanded technology resources
ACPS will continue to reevaluate how to expand services to build on the outline of this Virtual PLUS+ model as we move closer to the Sept. 8 start date for schools. The school division is asking parents, students and staff to complete the Virtual PLUS+ survey to share their thoughts on specific additional supports needed for the fall. Responses from this survey are vital in assisting us to further refine the “PLUS+” in our planning to meet the individual needs of families.
Every nine weeks, a committee will reevaluate our constraints for reopening and assess. ACPS is committed to remaining flexible as the situation surrounding the global pandemic changes in the DMV region.
Over the summer, Cross-Functional Planning Teams made up of staff, parents, students and community partners have diligently researched and then tested out different scenarios for the start of the 2020-21 academic year. In-person, virtual and various hybrid models were all given due consideration.
However, at this time, there are many constraints to reopening school buildings, including the complexity to comply with CDC guidelines as they relate to transportation, our facilities, personal protective equipment (PPE), and the number of available staff — many who live in neighboring jurisdictions and have school-aged children.
Further details of the Virtual PLUS+ supports will be shared before the Sept. 8 start date for the 2020-21 school year.