Dear WJCC Schools Families:
I hope that you and your loved ones are safe and healthy. I know these past months have been very challenging for everyone and I extremely grateful for your continued support as we respond to the constantly changing information about the pandemic.
As you know, we are seeing an alarming spike in the number of COVID-19 cases in our region and across Virginia. What does that mean for us as a school community? Sadly, it means we will not welcome students back to our classrooms for in-person learning as we had hoped to do in September.
Just this morning, our school leaders spoke with local health experts who caution us that based on current data, in-person instruction is not recommended for the Fall. Therefore, WJCC Schools will open and remain on Path 1: Remote Learning for All Students for the first nine weeks of the school year.
Also today, the Virginia High School League announced that high school sports will not begin before Dec. 14.
I know many of you are disappointed by these announcements; we are as well. We remain committed to providing the rigorous education that all our students need and deserve. Decisions about how to do that safely are challenging because there are so many individuals who have unique circumstances that we have to take into consideration.
During the first nine weeks, students will engage in daily online learning, including live instruction and independent assignments and activities. This will be a different experience than the emergency at-home learning last Spring. For example, attendance and participation will be monitored, and assignments will be graded. Course work will include lessons and materials that teachers and curriculum experts spent all summer creating specifically for remote learning.
As we are able, we will bring individual and small numbers of students into schools for academic assessments and evaluations. Of course, social distancing, deep cleaning practices, and the mandatory use of face coverings will be in place for safety.
Without question, this will be another challenging school year as we move between the Paths of our Return to Learn: Forward WJCC Schools plan. Many families have already chosen for their children to take part in the Family Choice Year-Long Virtual Learning option. We are using that data to prepare for the classes that students need.
Today’s decision to begin schools with remote learning may lead some families to change their minds about the Family Choice option. Knowing this, we are re-opening the registration process to allow families to opt-in or opt-out of the Year-Long Virtual Learning program. Families who want to make a change may do so by completing an online form by 5:00 PM on Friday, July 31.
Information about Path 1 Remote Learning will be presented at the upcoming School Board meeting on August 4. At that time, school leadership will also share the rationale for opening schools on Path 1, the information we will use to determine when we will begin to bring some students back for in-person instruction, and some of the metrics that will guide our movement as a school division through the Paths of our return to learn plan. For social distancing purposes, families and members of the public are encouraged to watch the school board meeting as it streams live on our website, www.wjccschools.org. Citizens wishing to make comments to the school board can record a 1-minute message on a dedicated public comment line by calling 757-603-6481. Messages recorded by 5 p.m. on August 3 will be played during the meeting.
I am incredibly thankful for our wonderful school community – the teachers, support staff, administrators, parents, school board members, and community partners in education – who continue to work together to meet the needs of our students during the global pandemic. I am confident that we will get through this stronger than ever by working together. We are WJCC Schools!
Olwen Herron, Ed.D.