Detailed Update: Reopening Planning Process

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The ACPS team has been hard at work developing plans and guidance to support our community and staff in SY 2020-21. The work of our Thought Partners in June 2020 and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) guidelines continue to influence and guide ACPS as we plan and prepare, specifically:

  • We anchored all of our work in the guiding principles (PDF) developed in our sessions in June 2020.
  • We based our Cross-Functional Planning Team structure, membership, and activities on the guidance from our Thought Partners and CDC.
  • We surveyed staff and families to deepen our understanding of the preferences and needs, directly informing our designs for both 100% virtual and hybrid return models.
  • We have conducted several Reopening Community Chats to listen to our staff, students and families to raise awareness of issues that we may not have fully considered for reopening schools.
  • We designed student schedules to support both Hybrid and Virtual models.

Below, you will find a set of resources to explore to broaden your understanding of our activities and accomplishments. These essential preliminary questions will guide our work for providing an update to the School Board, Thought Partners, Staff and Community on Friday, July 31, 2020, where we will share our findings and focus on the following: 

  • How did we utilize the Thought Partners and CDC guidance and input to drive the work of the Cross-Functional Planning Teams?
  • What have we accomplished since our meeting in June, 2020 with Thought Partners to inform our planning process?
  • How will we determine the feasibility and practicality of each proposed model? 
  • How leaders, staff and community members will assist ACPS to continue to build awareness, uncover additional needs, and develop support?

Cross-Functional Planning Teams 

On July 6, 2020, we initiated Cross-Functional Planning Teams to expand the cohort of leaders, staff, students and community members involved in the discussion, analysis, and decision making. More than 100 ACPS staff, family, student and community members (PDF) virtually collaborated on Mondays and Wednesdays throughout July to delve into different reopening models, consider the latest guidance, highlight key decisions to be made, and design solutions. Outputs from this group include:

  • Address Essential Questions from the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) and Thought Partners;
  • Determine Instructional Models and Design Action Plans to Support;
  • Create Materials for Staff, Students and Community; and 
  • Submit a Comprehensive Reopening Plan to the Virginia Department of Education.

You can access all of our Cross-Functional Planning Team materials, including presentations, videos, and recordings.

Engagement Across Our Community

In early July, ACPS released a Staff and Family Survey seeking two-way communication to inform planning efforts for reopening schools, with both a Hybrid and 100% virtual model presented as options. Survey objectives included:

  • Based on Current Information 
    • Families: Preferred learning option 
    • Staff: Likelihood return to work on-site
  • Most Important Factors Influencing Their Decision
  • Comfort Level with Certain COVID-19 Safety Measures
  • Transportation Preference
  • Demographics for Analysis Include: Grade Level, School, Race/Ethnicity, Special Program, Staff Role

We had historical participation rates within all groups, with 11,852 Family Survey Responses and 2,077 Staff Survey Responses. You can access the survey results (PDF).

To further build engagement and connections in the community, ACPS has held a series of Reopening Community Chats, to conclude on July 28, 2020, to hear in greater depth about the particular issues that specific communities may face in the fall and begin to work through potential solutions to them. Ideas and discussions from the chats are being shared with the Cross-Functional Planning Teams for their analysis and consideration and potentially including into the processes and protocols they develop to reopen our schools safely in the fall. 

All Reopening Community Chats are recorded and being captioned and posted to the ACPS-at-Home website. Take a look to learn more.

Prototypes of Hybrid and Virtual Models

We are evaluating schedule options that are aligned to hybrid + virtual models, highlighting implications, and considerations across financial, operational, staffing, safety, etc. Over the course of two weeks, a scheduling team analyzed 18 example schedules and plans from districts in Northern Virginia, the DMV, and across the U.S. to create schedule samples and division guidance to support school leaders in both hybrid and virtual models. Principals have been heavily involved in creating test school schedules specific for their buildings to identify the benefits and limitations of each model.

The schedule prototypes have been developed, with division guidance articulated across each core area in the Playbooks, the Cross-Functional Planning teams will experience a Day in the Life activity to assess each proposed model’s feasibility and practicality, building consensus on the most feasible model to reopen our schools on September 8, 2020. Feasibility criteria is centered on the following:

  • Constraints: Model is possible within current constraints and available resources*
  • Input: Model supports ACPS community, staff needs and preferences
  • Vision: Model is aligned to ACPS 2025: Equity for All

*In the midst of planning, we recognize that significant constraints could possibly limit ACPS’ ability to open SY 2020-21 with in-person instruction that aligns to health and safety guidelines and requirements from the CDC. Below are two analyses completed by ACPS to uncover capacity constraints:

Next Steps

Our planning and preparations are coming together, with key conversations and deliverables due in subsequent weeks.

Week of July 27-31, 2020

Essential Questions

  • How will our students and staff experience our designs for 100% Virtual and Hybrid?
  • Which model(s) is/are feasible within our school division given constraints, school community input, and alignment with our ACPS Strategic Plan 2025 to open SY 2020-21? 

Activities + Deliverables

  • Day in the life of a Student, Staff, and Parent
  • Feasibility Analysis
  • Recommended Feasible Model

Week of August 3-7, 2020

Essential Questions

  • In what ways can we create additional support structures and services for schools, families, and staff?
  • How can we build awareness and continue conversations about our reopening model?

Activities + Deliverables

  • Recommended Feasible Model + Details
  • Communication Materials
  • Draft of Comprehensive Reopening Plan
  • Reopening Plan Presentation to the School Board 

Superintendent Dr. Gregory C. Hutchings, Jr. has also shared a briefing document on this topic with the School Board on Friday, July 24, 2020.

ACPS, ACPS 2025, Announcements, Coronavirus, School Board