Prince William students to follow set schedules for online classes

Prince William County Public Schools students will be learning from home during the first nine-weeks of the school year online, with exceptions for certain students with additional needs.

This, however, will be very different from the virtual spring semester that occurred during the beginning of the pandemic, as students will have structured schedules, regular start/end times, and learn new content, school officials said.

Virtual learning, which will begin September 8, will be conducted through the learning management system, Canvas. The system allows teachers to create and assign assignments/projects/tests, and students to complete said assignments.

Students will also have access to the teleconferencing platform, Zoom to participate in live lessons with instructors. Students can access Canvas through their school’s webpage or by logging into Clever with their school-assigned Microsoft 365 accounts.

“The Canvas platform will provide specific lessons tied to Standards of Learning and create a consistent curriculum for students in any format. This new platform will also be connected to a [Prince William County Public Schools] license of Zoom teleconferencing platform, that will provide a secure method of live student-teacher interaction when needed,” said Kasey Ruben, who works for the school division.

For students who do not have a device at home, the school division will supply one, based on grade level. Under plans approved by the school board, all high schoolers will receive a device at the beginning of the year. For middle and high school students who need access to technology, the school division ‘will work with families to prioritize distribution of devices to students with none at home,’ according to a press release from the county schools.

In addition to the new system and devices, online learning within Prince William schools will be formally structured into a schedule, with students’ regular start and end times, in which all students will receive virtual instruction Tuesdays-Fridays.

Mondays will be reserved for teacher office hours.

“Mondays will be an all virtual day at all levels, used for a variety of purposes for students and teachers. Monday may be used for teacher-student check-in, mental health and/or counselor meetings, teacher planning, and professional development,” stated a press release on the schools website.

Each schedule will be different for each student’s grade level, as well as each student’s additional needs.

Students in preschool will be offered live virtual learning, as well as prerecorded content on Canvas.

Elementary school students will attend school from 9 am-3:4o p.m. and receive ‘live instruction of at least 60 minutes for pre-kindergarten, 90 minutes for kindergarten-grade 2, and 120 minutes grades 3–5, plus additional teacher interactions as needed including Monday virtual-support days,’ according to the school division’s website. Elementary students will also receive 10-25 minutes of extra assigned language arts, social studies, science, and/or math work on Canvas, depending on their grade level. As with in-person learning, students will receive breaks to prevent them from being in front of a screen constantly.

“As with in-person instruction, our teachers will provide students with brain breaks and movement time during these live virtual sessions,” stated a press release on the schools’ website.

Students and families who cannot participate in all of the live virtual instruction will be able to view recorded content on Canvas.

“If a student cannot participate in some of the live virtual instruction, Canvas learning content and assignments can be accessed at any time that is convenient for the family,” states a schools press release.

Middle school students will attend school from 8:30 am-3 p.m. and receive live virtual instruction for 50% of their class periods, as well as ‘plus additional teacher interactions as needed including Monday virtual-support days.’

High school students will attend school from 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., with a minimum of 30 minutes of live virtual instruction in each of their classes daily. Students will also have live access to their teachers during the entire class period.

“Students attending in person will need bus transportation as well as consistent times for classes just as in a ‘normal’ year for scheduling purposes. Additionally, the direction of the school board for the second quarter is to return to in-person learning for most students under a ’50 percent model.’ In order to maintain consistency of schedules from the first to second quarter, the times and schedules must be developed now with this in-mind, including class scheduling and staffing,” the school division states.

More information on the upcoming school year will be released as the academic year draws nearer. More information about Canvas and student schedules can be found here.

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