Stafford County Public Schools (SCPS) students will be attending school both in-person and online.
During its July 14 meeting, the county’s school board approved SCPS Superintendant Dr. Scott Kizner’s return to learning plan, which has students attending school both virtually and in-person when school resumes August 31. Parents, however, do have the option for their children to attend school completely virtually if they so choose.
“[Our goal is to] create a safe, return to school environment for students and staff, where students can actively participate in learning, having their physical and social-emotional needs met in their selected learning approach,” stated Superintendant Kizner’s return to learning presentation.
The approval of the plan additionally changes school start times for SCPS students. Elementary school students would be sectioned off into ‘shift one’ and ‘shift two’, according to their school, begin school each day according to those shifts. The schools in ‘shift one’, which would start at 7:30 a.m. and end at 1:30 p.m., would be Ferry Farm, Grafton Village, Hampton Oaks, Hartwood, Margaret Brent, Rockhill, Stafford, and Widewater Elementary Schools.
The schools in ‘shift two’, which would start at 8:30 a.m. and end at 2:00 p.m., would be Anthony Burns, Conway, Falmouth, Garrisonville, Kate Waller Barrett, Moncure, Park Ridge, Rocky Run, and Winding Creek Elementary Schools.
Middle school students would begin school between 9:30 and 10 a.m., instead of the normal 7:45 a.m., and be dismissed between 3 and 3:30 p.m., instead of the normal 2:50 p.m. High schoolers, on the other hand, would start school at between 10:30 and 11:00 a.m., instead of the normal 7:40 a.m., and be dismissed between 4:15 and 4:45 p.m., instead of 2:15 p.m.
Under the return to learning plan, each grade level would have different schedules and implementations, depending on if they are doing both in-person and virtual or completely virtual learning. Those doing the hybrid plan follow ‘schedule A,’ which splits students into groups A and B, and has those groups physically and virtually attending school on different days of the week.
Even with all hybrid students following the same basic schedule, each grade level will still have different implementations of it. Those in Pre-K would see this schedule implemented the week of August 31 and receive ‘2 days of face to face and daily contact on the other days,’ according to Superintendent Kizner’s presentation.
Those in elementary school will participate in only virtual learning during the week of August 31 to do training with their teachers, and then later transition into ‘schedule A.’ Those in middle and high school will also receive only virtual learning the week of August 31 to do training with their teachers, as well as the week of September 8, with ‘the exception of September 9 and 10,’ according to Superintendent Kizner’s presentation.
Middle and high school students would then fully transition into both the in-person and virtual learning of ‘schedule A’ on the week of September 14.
Students who opt-in for only virtual learning will be contacted by their teacher(s) before August 31, when they would start classes, and follow ‘schedule C.’ To supplement the plan, the SCPS school board and Stafford County Board of Supervisors approved the purchase of 9,000 Chromebooks, which will allow all the county’s students to have a device at home.
It is unknown when the Chromebooks will arrive, but they will be in the hands of students in time for the start of the next school year on August 31.
While completely virtual learning is currently being seen as only an alternative choice for parents, it could become a reality for all SCPS students depending on the state of the global pandemic, as well as Governor Ralph Northam’s actions.
“If the state returns to Phase I or II, a virtual model may become the primary option. If local conditions require us to close a classroom, school, or the school system for an extended period of time, this will also become our primary option,” stated Superintendent Kizner’s presentation.
The school board also signified at last night’s meeting that they are open to input from the public and amending this plan.
“I really want the public’s opinion… I want the public to understand that when you hear us next Tuesday, there might be another change, so just be open to that,” said Susan Randall, the George Washington District School Board Member.
The school board is set to meet and discuss the matter again on Tuesday, July 21.
Students have not set foot into a school building since early March when Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam ordered schools closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.