As we complete the first week of school closures, I wanted to thank families, faculty, and staff for your efforts to stay positive and to engage students in learning. While I know it has not been easy, I have had the wonderful opportunity to witness an amazing “can-do” spirit that is teaching our children the greatest lesson of all…whatever we face, we can get through this together.
Our offices are closed but our staff continues the work of the division, and we are listening and responding to your voicemails and emails. Our Food Service and Transportation staff have teamed up to provide healthy meals to students – (visit our website for more information or to sign-up) and are helping over 1,100 students each weekday by providing more than 2,000 meals. Teachers, the support you are providing to families is not going unnoticed. And, we all greatly appreciate the work of our custodial staff to give our schools and buildings thorough cleanings.
Every day local and federal officials are providing new information. I know that can at times be overwhelming. Today, school division staff participated in two conference calls: the first with the U.S. Department of Education, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture; and the second one with the Virginia Superintendent of Public Instruction. In these calls, we were provided updates that will help guide our actions for the near future. We received guidance on the most current information on requirements related to Standards of Learning (SOL) testing. The State Superintendent will ask for a waiver from the U.S. Department of Education, and USDOE Secretary Betsy DeVos shared with us today that waivers will be granted to schools that closed due to COVID-19. Since state assessments are required by the Code of Virginia, action will have to be taken by the General Assembly to finalize any waivers regarding testing, accreditation, and graduation. We anticipate that for Virginia this process will take a little longer than for some other states as Virginia will have to work through state and federal regulations. However, we do anticipate that these waivers will be granted. We will provide details as soon as they are available.
While we do not know for certain, all the information we have received to date points to an extension of school closures. We encourage families to prepare for an extended closure, and we will provide you with additional information as soon as we receive it. For your reference, we are also including with this update Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) and will post these FAQs on our website as well.
Thank you, again, for your unwavering support of PGCPS during these extraordinary times.
Lisa Pennycuff, Ed.D. Superintendent
Frequently Asked Questions
When will schools reopen?
Unfortunately, we do not know yet. We are closed until at least March 27th. Once we have updated information, we will provide it to our families and staff.
Will school closures be extended by the Governor?
We do not know for certain, but all the information we have received to date points to an extension of school closures. We encourage families to prepare for an extended closure, and we will provide you with additional information as soon as we receive it.
Will my student have to take SOL exams?
The State Superintendent will ask for a waiver from the U.S. Department of Education. The USDOE Secretary Betsy DeVos has stated that waivers will be granted to schools that closed due to COVID-19. Since state assessments are required by the Code of Virginia, action will have to be taken by the General Assembly to finalize any waivers regarding testing, accreditation, and graduation. However, we do anticipate that these waivers will be granted. We will provide details as soon as they are available.
What about Advanced Placement (AP) exams? Will they be available for my student to take to earn college credit?
The College Board announced today that AP tests will now be administered online at home on two dates, to be announced by April 3rd. To be fair to students nationwide, exams will only include topics and skills that most AP teachers and students have already covered in class by early March. The College Board will provide free AP review sessions on their website to help prepare students for the exams. For more information, visit the College Board’s coronavirus website
Do you have any information about Dual Enrollment courses?
Dual Enrollment is a partnership between the school division and local community colleges. At this time, we do not have any updates, but we will provide them as soon as they are available.
In response to COVID-19, the College Board has cancelled the May 2, 2020, SAT and all other scheduled March makeup exams. Students who registered to take these exams will receive refunds. The College Board will provide additional SAT testing opportunities as soon as feasible in place of cancelled administrations. More details can be found at: http://spr.ly/60181subj.
What is the impact on ACT testing?
ACT has rescheduled the April 4, 2020, national ACT test date to June 13, 2020, in response to concerns regarding the spread of COVID-19. ACT will communicate directly with all students currently registered for the April 4, 2020, ACT test. For additional information please visit www.ACT.org.
I am the parent of a senior. Will my child get his/her diploma?
The State Superintendent has said that there will be waivers available to ensure students who are on track for graduation will receive their high school diploma regardless of how long schools are closed. Since graduation requirements are in Virginia Code, the General Assembly must approve legislation to allow graduation requirements to be waived. We will provide senior families with details as soon as they are available.
Will there be a graduation ceremony?
Our graduation ceremony has not been cancelled at this time. We sincerely hope things are back to normal by June, but we just do not know at this time. We know this is an important milestone for our students and families, and we will do everything in our power to hold a graduation ceremony.
I am not a teacher and am a little uncertain about how to help my child with their schoolwork. What should I do?
As we continue with school closures, it is important to continue to support your child’s learning, but we do not expect you to be able to be his/her classroom teacher. We will keep giving families support through online resources and paper packets, and by maintaining teacher office hours for specific questions or concerns. We will be here to support you through this.
Please remember that the daily activities of your home can also be learning opportunities – cooking using recipes (math, reading); taking a walk and identifying plants and animals (physical education, science); telling family stories and taking notes (history, writing); and even playing board games (reading, math, history, science).
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