Following in Prince William County’s and Manassas City’s footsteps, Fredericksburg City Public Schools (FCPS) will be completely virtual in the fall.
During its June 23 meeting, the Fredericksburg City School Board unanimously approved a plan to begin the school year with 100% virtual instruction for at least the first nine weeks of the year, beginning August 17 and ending October 16. All students will be participating in this plan, even those who are English-language learners and participate in alternative education programs.
The plan comes after the city’s school board changed course, having initially proposed a hybrid model in which students would attend school both in-person and online various days during the week.
“Staff considered all the uncertainties of the COVID-19 pandemic and examined healthy facility and transportation preparedness and sustainability. Based on that review, they recommended delaying face to face learning until such time building and transport will be in optimal conditions for students and staff,” said Dr. Marcie Catlett, Superintendant of Fredericksburg City Public Schools.
“We want our children in the building, we want to teach them, but we also have to balance a myriad of things, and I think this is the way to go. We love your children here in Fredericksburg, we want to serve them, and we think this is the best way to serve our student population,” said At-Large school board Jarvis Bailey.
While it is unknown if the school division will transition back to in-person learning, students will still receive the same amount of teacher-directed instruction, videos, independent practice, performance tasks, special-area classes, and enrichment opportunities virtually, according to the school division’s return to learning plan.
“Through our instructional plan, I am confident that our teachers… are going to do a fantastic job educating our students however they reach them,” said Ward 2 school board member Katie Pomeroy.
Students will participate in virtual education through the learning management system Canvas which allows teachers to create/grade assignments, conduct tests, and create lessons.
In addition to learning through Canvas, the grading system will be “redesigned in order to be equitable to all students regardless of their access to technology or other non-academic factors,” according to the school division’s return to learning plan.
For students who have unreliable or no access to the internet and/or a device, FCPS will be providing internet access to air-conditioned school buses, and students can request to utilize their school’s computer lab.
“The same wonderful staff that has put together this plan is still working to make sure that all of our students are reached, and that all of our students have what they need to succeed,” said At-Large school board member Jannan Holmes.
To ensure that all students understand how to use the platform and conduct their online learning, FCPS students will be required to attend “distance-learning training” with a parent/guardian during the week of August 17-28. The training will be socially distanced, and all those attending the training sessions will require a health screening and a face mask.
“Training sessions will cover basic use of Canvas, teacher contact information, and distribution of any resources that may be needed during distance-learning days,” stated the school division’s return to learning plan.
More information on the new learning plan can be found here.