Distance Learning Plan kicks off Tuesday, April 14

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Distance learning will begin online for high school or with “learning packets” for younger grades, starting Tuesday, April 14. The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) is working on offering direction for school districts to follow in reference to schoolwork, grades, and graduation requirements for seniors while working to make their decisions fair and accessible to all students. 

While instruction will begin tomorrow, it will not be replicating a normal school day. Instead, scheduled video chats will also be part of the new norm on Tuesdays and Thursdays beginning at 9:15 am. Classes will utilize Blackboard and Google Classroom to post assignments, study materials, and watch instructional videos. Students will have to click the link on each of their classes from either Blackboard or Google classroom to get to their class for the day. More information on this new schedule can be found at https://westpotomachs.fcps.edu/academics/distance-learning. While this is not as formal or efficient for learning as school, it is a way to reconnect with teachers, students, and families as well as bringing a sense of normality to the situation at hand according to FCPS Superintendent, Scott Brabrand.

For younger grades learning packets have been printed and sent out to families. This will be a weekly routine with 125,000 packets printed each time. The first packets were expected to have reached families starting March 30. In addition to the packets, FCPS is offering more educational resources for elementary school students on FCPS Channels 21, where math and literacy programs have been specially designed for students during these times. One hour of an online class is also required Monday through Thursday for elementary schoolers, times will vary depending on individual teachers. 

Teachers have used the last two weeks, starting Monday, March 26, to plan their lessons according to Brabrand. Virtual meetings scheduled by principals within individual schools were scheduled for teachers to reconnect. Training for teachers was completely online as they were preparing for classes to begin. Also in these weeks, starting on March 23, appointments were set up to safely supply wifi hotspots for families who do not have internet access at home. These devices were limited but FCPS tried their best to support the families who were in need in order to include the maximum amount of students in distance learning as stated in FCPS’s Distance Learning Plan for High School. 

Brabrand extended his sympathy for students losing their sports and social events while also noting that this is all for the best and that cancellations are to prevent the spread of the virus, in his Coronavirus Update on March 23. Lastly, FCPS wants to remind us all to be “responsible global citizens and do our part to stop the spread.”