Day 115 — Safe, Steady, Ready
We are now less than two weeks away from the start of the 2020-21 academic year and ACPS is actively preparing and refining our work for what is sure to be an unforgettable start to the academic year.
There is a lot of important information to share with you today to ensure a smooth launch of Virtual PLUS+ for all. Please set aside a few minutes and take your time to go through the sections relevant to you. Please feel free to reach out to us if you have any questions. We want everyone to feel confident, prepared and able to hit the ground running on Sept. 8.
Today we have three more videos to share with you which will give you a sense of the school day for middle and high school students and English Learner students. If you missed last week’s newsletter, see the videos for pre-K and elementary schedules.
We also have some updated information on resources for families of students with disabilities and, as an additional support, this week our Family and Community Engagement team will kick off a series of free online workshops with a Q&A component to help our families prepare for the school year.
Next week, families receive in the mail a Virtual PLUS+ Back-to-School Forms packet for them to update contact information, complete a Free and Reduced Price Meal form, and much more. Parents are asked to complete the forms online or on paper by Sept. 15.
Tomorrow marks an important event in the process to consider the renaming of T.C. Williams High School. I will be presenting at the Alexandria City School Board work session ahead of the community engagement kickoff in the fall. Also during this session, I will be talking about our 2020-21 ACPS Areas of Focus. I would love for you to listen in so please join us on Thursday, Aug. 27 at 5 p.m.
Stay safe, stay healthy, stay informed.
Dr. Gregory C. Hutchings, Jr.
Superintendent of Schools
Join us Tomorrow for Convocation
ACPS is starting the school year with Virtual PLUS+ as our reopening plan. This plan represents the work of hundreds of school and community leaders and will ensure that all students, families, staff, and community members have the support and skills to thrive in this new educational environment. To celebrate this exciting time in our history, Superintendent Dr. Gregory C. Hutchings, Jr. is inviting you to join him to launch the school year with a Convocation of all ACPS employees.
We will hold a Convocation on Thursday, Aug. 27, from 10:00 to 10:30 a.m. This Convocation will celebrate our hard work from the spring and summer and allow us to look forward to the coming school year. We will share some opening remarks followed by a message from our Alexandria City Mayor Justin Wilson.
Immediately following Convocation, instructional staff will stay on and hear an address and engage in professional development from Technology Services on the upcoming Virtual PLUS+ opening.
Please reserve this time and join us using the following link:
ACPS Convocation on Zoom:
Or by phone: 1-646-558-8656
Webinar ID: 831 6612 2284
Reminder: Access to the Buildings for 10-Month Employees
As we get ready to open school, please be aware that employees should not enter any ACPS facility until the official start of their contractual year.
- 10-month licensed employees should not enter any school facility until Thursday, Aug. 27, 2020.
- 10-month support employees should not enter any school facility until Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2020.
All access to any ACPS facility must be pre-approved by Dr. Alicia Hart and Anita Cordova via your supervisor/principal. Please make sure you follow the site safety procedures.
Chromebook and Tablet Distribution
Distribution of devices for students in kindergarten through grade three and newly enrolled students in grades four to 12 will take place between Aug. 31 and Sept. 4, 2020.
Pre-K families will receive their devices on Wednesday, Sept. 9. More details will be provided next week.
Due to international supply chain issues and high demand for Chromebooks, ACPS did not receive the new Chromebooks scheduled for delivery in early August. However, we will be using our older supply of Chromebooks in the meantime to get all our students online on Sept. 8. Please don’t worry, it will not be for long! Once these new Chromebooks arrive, the older Chromebooks will be switched out.
Food Access: Digital Meal Passes
Starting Sept. 8, all ACPS families will have to present the new Digital Meal Pass or Family PIN when visiting one of our food distribution sites to pick up student meals.
For most families, the Digital Meal Pass and Family PIN should have arrived by email yesterday. For families who do not have a valid email address on file with us, they will receive their Digital Meal Pass and Family PIN through postal mail.
See details about the ACPS Digital Meal Pass.
Watch a video to see how the Digital Meal Passes work:
The Multilingual Virtual PLUS+ Helpline Will Go Live on Monday
If you know of a parent or student who has questions or needs support on any aspect of Virtual PLUS+, tell them to call the multilingual Virtual PLUS+ Helpline starting Monday, Aug. 31.
The Virtual PLUS+ Helpline can help families get answers to their questions about:
- social, emotional or academic support
- child care options
- food access
A team of 15 ACPS staff will be ready for their calls when the Helpline goes live on Monday, Aug. 31, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- For English: Call 703-844-1763
- For Spanish: Call 703-844-3424
- For Arabic: Call 703-927-7095
- For Amharic: Call 703-927-6866
Have questions? Email email@example.com.
Watch our introduction to the multilingual Virtual PLUS+ Helpline:
Back-to-School Forms Arriving in Mailboxes Aug. 31
Virtual PLUS+ Back-to-School Forms packets are being mailed out to families next week. On these forms families can provide updated contact information, complete the Free and Reduced Price Meals application, and more. The information families give us on our back-to-school forms helps keep them updated on very important information related to their children and allows our schools to run efficiently.
Parents can complete the entire packet of forms online via their Virtual PLUS+ Parent Access (PowerSchool) account, or return the paper forms to a dropbox at any school by Sept. 15. Access codes for Virtual PLUS+ Parent Access accounts will be provided in the packet they receive.
See the Virtual PLUS+ School Day for Middle School, High School, and English Learner Students
This week we are continuing our series of informational videos to help our families envision what a day in the life of their child will look like when school resumes. Last week, we shared videos for pre-K and elementary schedules and today we are giving a peek into the day for middle and high school students and EL students.
Watch our videos:
- Middle School Schedule Overview
- High School Schedule Overview
- Specialized Instruction
- English Learners
Student teacher assignments and schedules are being mailed and will arrive Sept. 2-3.
Proposed Policy Changes for the Fall
ACPS is proposing to make adjustments to several policies including the grading policy and attendance policies for the 2020-21 academic year to accommodate circumstances around the pandemic. Some of the proposed updates are include:
- During the 2020-21 academic year, course curricula, assessments and grading policies will be aligned regardless of whether teaching and learning occurs via in-person instruction or distance learning.
- Student attendance will be recorded in each class daily, whether teaching and learning occurs via in-person instruction or distance learning.
- In addition to daily recess/movement breaks and active classroom learning, ACPS will strive to meet the established health and physical education instructional minute/hour guidelines from the Virginia Board of Education (VBOE) by accounting for both synchronous and asynchronous opportunities for instruction and learning.
- While maintaining consistency with School Board policies, some health and physical education instructional methods and practices may also be modified to align with the distance learning environment.
- In accordance with the Virginia Department of Education’s (VDOE) phased reopening guidance for schools, ACPS will require enhanced health and safety protocols to be observed during the 2020-21 academic year, regardless of the operational status of the division’s buildings or the City of Alexandria’s reopening phase. These provisions will remain in effect throughout the school year.
These policy changes will be presented to the School Board during the School Board Work Session at 5 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 27.
For all the proposed policy changes please review the School Board agenda.
T.C. Williams Renaming Process: School Board Work Session
Tomorrow, Aug. 27, the Alexandria City School Board will hear from Superintendent of Schools Dr. Gregory C. Hutchings, Jr. during a School Board work session about the recommended T.C. Williams High School renaming process ahead of the community engagement process kickoff in the fall.
ACPS is committed to launching a robust public community engagement process to allow for ample time to engage all members of our community.
T.C. Williams was named after Thomas Chambliss Williams when it opened in 1965. Thomas Chambliss Williams, who was the superintendent of ACPS from the mid-1930s until 1963, resisted desegregation and argued that Black and white students learned differently and should remain in separate schools.
Today, T.C. Williams High School is proud to educate students from 120 different countries, with 121 different languages spoken. At ACPS we view our diversity as a strength and ensuring racial equity is at the heart of the school division’s Strategic Plan: Equity for All 2025. While we still have much work to do within our schools, including policies and practices, the school’s name does not align with who we are as a community.
The School Board work session, which is open to the public, begins at 5 p.m. and can be viewed live or watched as a recording following the meeting.
Temperature Screening at ACPS Buildings
Anyone requiring access to an ACPS facility or school will be required to undergo a temperature check to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Testing stations will be established at seven locations, at or close to ACPS meal distribution sites and locations where major summer construction will take place. Screening will take no more than three minutes to complete and will involve the use of a clinical forehead thermometer.
All those with a temperature of 100.0 degrees Fahrenheit or lower (per Alexandria Health Department guidelines) will be given a dated wristband and be cleared to work as long as they are in possession of appropriate personal protection equipment consisting of masks and gloves.
Should an individual record an elevated temperature, that person will be informed that they are unable to report to work at an ACPS site and will be advised to call his or her supervisor.
Find out more about this measure in this Board Brief.
WANT TO HELP?
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 www.volunteeralexandria.org or 703-836-2176 to register for any additional potential volunteer opportunities.
MENTAL HEALTH SUPPORT
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
If there is a crisis or emergency during the time of the closure, students and families can access the supports below:
- Crisis Text and Crisis Link:
- Text: CONNECT to 85511
- Call: 703-527-4077
- Alexandria Safe Place
- Alexandria City 24-Hour Emergency Mental Health Services
- Alexandria City Health Department and AHD Contacts
- Inova Alexandria Hospital (ER)
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.
Have questions, concerns or feedback? Contact us or contact your direct supervisor.
HR Questions? Contact email@example.com.
Wash your hands regularly. Regular soap is OK.