ACPS Protocol for Transitioning to Virtual Instruction

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Our goal at Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) is to ensure the effective delivery of in-person learning to meet the needs of our students while also maintaining their safety, health, and well-being. A protocol was created in a collaborative effort with school and division leadership team members to explain when ACPS may need to consider a transition to virtual learning; this is available online at The decision to transition temporarily to virtual (asynchronous/ synchronous) learning will be made after careful consideration of the factors that impact instruction and operations at each school on a daily basis as conditions warrant. Note that regardless of the instructional plan, all students will bring home their devices at the end of every school day.  

In-Person Instruction can be provided when the school can operate with minimal staff absences, though it may require additional support to cover staff absences.  Additional support may be provided by a classroom monitor, classroom or staff reassignment, or a substitute teacher.

Asynchronous/Synchronous Virtual  Instruction – at a class, grade, department, or school level – occurs when the school does not have enough staff or resources to provide in-person instruction due to staff absences and will temporarily require asynchronous/synchronous virtual instruction. Additionally, this transition could occur when insufficient staffing in division-wide operations impacts school operations.  

Consideration for Transitioning to Virtual Instruction

A feasibility discussion will be initiated once a school is in the yellow zone (staffing shortage of 10%). This discussion will include the superintendent, select members of the Superintendent’s Leadership Team, and building/department administration. They will consider current student and staff health metrics, projected absences, staff coverage, and other factors or options. Staffing availability will consider the following factors in determining the need for a transition to asynchronous/synchronous instruction:

  • Preschool and elementary schools: Homerooms
  • PreK-8 schools: Each grade level and homerooms 
  • Secondary schools: Various departments and/or grade levels
  • All schools: Division-level staffing shortages with employee groups such as bus drivers and nutritional staff will trigger a similar review process to determine implications for the whole division transitioning to virtual learning.

After feasibility discussions, schools deemed as red zone schools will be placed in a red zone status and will transition to virtual learning. After day one, a decision will be made if asynchronous learning will continue or if a switch to synchronous learning is feasible. Feasibility discussions will be initiated daily by the school principal’s analysis of staffing and operational abilities and a review will be conducted to determine if additional support could be provided to make in-person learning possible. On an as-needed basis, this review will be conducted by a panel in the afternoon that includes members of the Senior Leadership Team and school-based administration. Any changes will be communicated to families in a timely manner.

Synchronous and Asynchronous Virtual Learning

Once a school has transitioned to virtual learning, the first day will have asynchronous instruction and then an assessment will be conducted to determine whether it is possible to transition to synchronous instruction. Communications will be shared after the first day to inform families about the virtual learning format going forward. Our top priority is to keep students learning as decisions are made to reflect an ever-changing situation. We appreciate everyone’s understanding and flexibility.