COVID Closure Daily Update for Monday, May 11

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Day 36 — Learning from Home Experience

Today, I wanted to share more details about our strategies for virtual teaching. Some of you may be familiar with the terms synchronous and asynchronous learning. However, do you know what characterizes the two differing approaches? The two methods were the subject of a recent Washington Post article featuring George Washington Middle School algebra teacher Colleen McEnearney who illustrated the synchronous learning that works so well for her and her students. But ACPS also offers asynchronous learning. Like all things, there are benefits and obstacles with both approaches.

That’s why we afford our schools and staff with the flexibility and autonomy to determine which works best for them and our students during this global pandemic. Some schools are using both approaches, while some are focusing on one. Many, like Douglas MacArthur Elementary School for example, are aiming to be able to layer both in the future.

It’s certainly true to say we are all students at the moment. Children are learning, teachers and principals are learning, and yes, your superintendent is also learning. There are so many new and innovative approaches for all of us recently. Strategies and techniques are evolving by the day while schools around the world have been catapulted into teaching, learning and working from home. Some elements I hope will stay around and enhance our teaching and learning when our school building doors open again in the future.

Below, we’ve shared a comprehensive list of learning resources, both synchronous and asynchronous, for review. I hope you take some time to explore these resources to supplement and support the work you are already doing at home with our children.

On Friday, I presented our revised FY21 Budget and recommended reduction items to ensure that our FY21 Budget Priorities remain as our guide to financial spending as well as ensuring that our students and staff are at the forefront of our decision-making. It is important that we understand the budget reduction recommendations that were presented on Friday may increase in the near future if we do not see an uptick in our economy and revitalization of dollars appropriated to ACPS from city, local, state, and federal funding sources. These are definitely hard times that require empathy, leadership and care in order to ensure that whatever decisions are made on behalf of our school division, that they are made with vision, integrity and passion. On Tuesday, I’ll answer questions about the revised budget in my video Q&A. In the meantime, information about the budget and the presentation I gave to the Board during Friday’s Work Session can be found on the ACPS-at-Home website. Wednesday’s ACPS Express will be a Budget Special Edition.

Stay safe, stay healthy and stay informed!

Dr. Gregory C. Hutchings, Jr.
Superintendent of Schools

Learn More About Our Learning Styles

During the pandemic, two key words have cropped up when we discuss continuous learning opportunities. These are “synchronous” versus “asynchronous” learning, but what do they mean?

Synchronous learning refers to a learning event in which a group of students are engaging in learning at the same time. Before learning technology allowed for synchronous learning environments, most online education took place through asynchronous learning methods.

Asynchronous learning is the idea that students learn the same material at different times and locations. Asynchronous learning is also called Location Independent Learning. It is the opposite to synchronous learning and has become more common as we have needed to adapt the way we offer learning opportunities during this pandemic when not all students are able to learn at the same time of day in the same way.

ACPS offers students multiple ways to learn at this time — both synchronous and asynchronous. It is critical that we offer both types of learning at this time so that we ensure all our students are able to continue to engage and learn while our school buildings are closed.

Synchronous Learning

Zoom classes with students fall into this category. Most classes at the secondary level are continuing to take place in some way through Zoom classes online. We also utilize biweekly check-in Zoom sessions and lessons for pre-K through elementary school students.

Check out these examples of how ACPS provides synchronous learning at this time:

This format recreates a real-time classroom experience with students and teachers interacting live. This has the benefit of giving social and emotional support to students who miss seeing their teachers and class, and the teaching component at the same time.

For Colleen McEnearney, a George Washington Middle School Algebra teacher, the opportunity to be present with her students both during class, and also through individual one-on-one “check-in” sessions, is important. In terms of technology, it provides more challenges and additional preparation time.

In a recent interview with The Washington Post, McEnearney said, “I want it to work as smoothly as humanly possible although I know my Zoom is going to freeze at least once, and so are my students’ Zooms.” But the benefits of live time with her students, which allows her to keep that personal connection going, outweighs any hurdles for her.

The upside? This format is as close as we can get to providing a regular classroom environment. The downside? Not all students are able to make it to set class times so some may miss out due to family obligations or varied home situations.

Asynchronous Learning

Learning packets, teacher assignments, and prerecorded TV lessons all fall into this category.

At Douglas MacArthur Elementary School, teachers and administrators thought long and hard about the best approach to take with their students.

In the end, a team of staff including assistant principals Steven Geter and Becky Pittman agreed on asynchronous learning as a starting point. For them, it was about equitable access and the knowledge that for their students, at least, not all were able to make set class times.

Also, they felt that although students in grades three to five did use Chromebooks at school, they did not necessarily have the competence to use technology independently. Asynchronous learning meant students could sit down and learn at a time that worked for their family’s schedule. It also meant content could be reviewed as many times as necessary to allow mastery.

They believe building a foundation of asynchronous learning resources allows a base where they can layer synchronous learning in the future.

Geter said, “It’s not that we are 100 percent one way or another, we want to blend the two. Right now we are at the foundational point of how do you build up the asynchronous portion so you can layer in the synchronous portion? Whether that be reading groups, mini lessons, etc.”

“But without the asynchronous portion we felt our students would be left spinning and left in an inequitable fashion because not everyone can make 10 a.m. on Tuesday.”

The upside? Learning content can be viewed and reviewed at the student and their family’s convenience. The downside? Lack of social and emotional connection.

Resources for Both Synchronous and Asynchronous Learning

Let’s take a look at some of the opportunities, both synchronous and asynchronous, that ACPS is providing.

Prerecorded lessons from ACPS teachers, for Pre-K through Grade 2

How to access:

Science Programming for grades 3-12 on ACPS-TV

Different content created by the Smithsonian and National Science Foundation is shown daily.

How to access:

  • ACPS-TV local cable channel 71 from noon to 2 p.m. and 4 to 8 p.m. daily
  • On the ACPS-TV website

Virginia Department of Education: VA TV Classroom

How to access:

Spanish radio learning — “Virginia: Educación en Radio”

This features prerecorded lessons in multiple subject areas to support continuity of learning for Spanish-speaking students in grades K-12 while schools are closed.

How to access:

  • Listen live at from 10:30-11 a.m., Monday-Friday
  • Listen live by phone at 206-629-0249 or 641-715-8936

Learning Packets

New learning packets are being mailed to students’ homes every couple of weeks.

Where to find them:

  • In your mailbox (make sure your contact data is up to date or you won’t receive yours!)
  • Posted to the ACPS-at-Home website

Recorded class Zoom sessions

Sometimes teachers are recording lessons so that students who may have missed the sessions can access them later (we all have trouble logging in sometimes!).

Where to find them:

  • Contact your teacher or counselor

ACPS Story Hour

This provides professional recordings of read-alouds, copyright-cleared by the publishers, aimed at pre-K through 5th grade.

Where to find them:

Free Online Tutoring

A free 24/7 tutoring service is available to all ACPS students in grades 6-12. Every session is one-on-one and individualized to the subject matter.

How to access:

Free NOVA summer classes

Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) is offering graduating seniors the chance to take online college classes for free through a program called JumpStart. Students can take up to two college courses between June 1 and July 15, 2020. Most are taken in the student’s own time and do not require attendance in a virtual classroom.

How to access:

Watch Friday’s Board Meeting 

During the closure of school buildings, our School Board is meeting virtually each Friday at noon.

If you missed it live, you can still watch it.

Watch the School Board Meeting.


We want to hear from you! Send us a photo, video or story about your experiences while school is closed. Email us at


Learning Together: At-Home Tips from One ACPS Family to Another

Have a learning tip that works well for your child, or a particularly interesting project or story you think others would enjoy? We invite you to share it with the entire ACPS learning community!

Upload your video or audio story or post it to the ACPS Facebook page.

See this great example from one parent and her son.


The Teen Wellness Center at T.C. Williams is still open regular hours Monday through Friday for all Alexandrians ages 12-19. All services are provided in the clinic and if the teen is ill with an elevated temperature (100.0 or more) we will see them through our telehealth video format. Make an appointment over the phone by calling 703-746-4776.

Food Distribution

ACPS has multiple distribution meal site locations throughout Alexandria for all ACPS students and children over the age of two.


Grab and Go breakfast, lunch and snack meals are available Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays between 9 a.m. and 12 p.m. at the following locations:

  • William Ramsay Elementary School
    5700 Sanger Avenue, Alexandria, VA 22311
  • Francis C. Hammond Middle School
    4646 Seminary Road, Alexandria, VA 22304
  • Cora Kelly School for Math, Science and Technology
    3600 Commonwealth Avenue, Alexandria, VA 22305
  • Jefferson-Houston PreK-8 IB School
    1501 Cameron Street, Alexandria, VA 22314
  • T.C. Williams High School
    3330 King Street, Alexandria, VA 22304

And available at our “Pop-Up” sites located at:

  • Mason Apartments at South Reynolds Street, Alexandria, VA 22304
    10:45 to 11:15 a.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays
  • Brent Place Apartments at 375 South Reynolds Street, Alexandria, VA 22304
    11:20 to 11:50 a.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays
  • Ruby Tucker Family Center at 322 Tancil Court, Alexandria, VA 22314
    10:45 to 11:15 a.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays
  • Community Lodgings at 607 Notabene Drive, Alexandria, VA 22305
    10:45 to 11:15 a.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays
  • Old Towne West Apartments (parking lot) at 500 South Alfred Street, Alexandria, VA 22314
    11:20 to 11:50 a.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays
  • Corner of Florence Drive and Four Mile Road, Alexandria, VA 22305
    10:45 to 11:15 a.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays
  • The Fields at 4309 Duke Street, Alexandria, VA 22304
    10:45 to 11:15 a.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays
  • Bennington Crossing Apartments at 441 North Armistead Street, Alexandria, VA 22312
    11:30 a.m. to noon, Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays

NO SIGN UP OR REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED TO RECEIVE MEALS. Meals consist of breakfast, lunch and snack and include, for example, fresh fruits and vegetables and sandwiches for multiple days.

NOTE: No food distribution will occur on Tuesdays or Thursdays. The limited days for distribution is to support the practice of social distancing and to limit social gatherings. Meals for two days will be provided on the pick-up days, (Monday/Wednesday/Friday).

Other Food Resources in the City of Alexandria

For food pantry locations and schedules in Alexandria, visit or call ‪703-662-1067.

Questions? Or Need Translation?

Send us your question in Spanish, Arabic or Amharic:

  • Text ACPSMEALS to 797979 (English and Spanish)
  • Call or text 703-927-6866 (Amharic)
  • Call or text 703-927-7095 (Arabic)


Call the FACE Center’s Bilingual Parent Information Lines:

  • For Spanish, call 571-775-9719, Monday-Friday (9 a.m. — 5 p.m.)
  • For Amharic, call 703-927-6866, Monday-Friday (9 a.m. — 1 p.m.)
  • For Arabic, call 703-927-7095, Tuesday-Thursday (9 a.m. — 3:30 p.m.)

SAFETY REMINDER: Please remember to observe social distancing practices while at the food distribution site by maintaining six feet of personal space between you and other families or individuals.

Anyone exhibiting symptoms of a respiratory illness like fever, runny nose, sore throat, coughing or difficulty breathing on the day of food distribution or in the previous 24 hours should not visit a food distribution site but call a health care provider instead. If you do not have a primary care physician and are not enrolled in a clinic, you may CALL an urgent care center or emergency room.


The City of Alexandria and the Alexandria Health Department strongly urge everyone to follow state orders to STAY HOME except for essential trips such as food purchases and medical care, and keep 6 feet apart from others when in public. Your neighbors and loved ones are counting on you to stop the spread of COVID-19. For other questions about COVID-19, call the Alexandria COVID-19 Hotline at 703-746-4988, weekdays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Additional updates can be found at

Coping with COVID-19 Fear and Uncertainty

Check out the City of Alexandria webpage Coping with COVID-19 Fear and Uncertainty which includes the COVID-19 Wellness Resource Guide.


Please consider donating through ACT For Alexandria and the COVID-19 Response Fund if you are able. 

Community members who would like to volunteer should reach out to or 703-836-2176 to register for any additional potential volunteer opportunities.


Continuity of School Support and Academic Advisement

School Student Support Team staff, including school counselors, school nurses, school psychologists, and school social workers will be available during school hours throughout the closure. Monday — Friday between 8:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. staff will be connecting with students and their families. The Department of Student Services, Alternative Programs and Equity staff members are also available during this time and can be contacted by voicemail and at

Emergency Supports

If there is a crisis or emergency during the time of the closure, students and families can access the supports below:

We know that this is a challenging time. ACPS will continue to share information through the ACPS website, social media, and email. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to your student’s school counselor or school social worker with any questions.


Don’t Feel Well?
Contact your primary health care physician. Don’t have insurance? Contact Neighborhood Health at 703-535-5568.


Have questions, concerns or feedback? Contact us.

Stay Healthy!
Wash your hands regularly. Regular soap is OK.

ACPS, Coronavirus