ACPS will expand its Virtual PLUS+ program to include up to 350 full-day spots for vulnerable students in the fall, thanks to new funding from the City of Alexandria.
The Virtual PLUS+ partners will provide free, full-day supervision with the City’s Department of Recreation, Parks and Cultural Activities (RPCA) on-site at either an ACPS school site or RPCA facility with full internet access.
This free, full school-day program will consist of technology access, food access, and supervision of access to online classes, in line with the ‘PLUS’ in the Virtual PLUS+ model that ACPS has adopted for the fall. The Virtual PLUS+ model puts the safety of ACPS students, families and staff at the forefront and takes into account the enormous logistical constraints posed by the pandemic. Its goal is to ensure that equity is at the heart of the plan and that the needs of the most vulnerable families are served.
In addition, ACPS will offer after-school enrichment programs at multiple sites through community partners. This after-school portion of the day will focus on providing hands-on activities, social emotional support, and recreational and socialization opportunities. ACPS will also provide after-school enrichment programs for middle school students at select RPCA and community sites.
Students attending Title I schools will be identified for this free, full-day program using a needs-based eligibility rubric that will take into account the many intersecting factors that may increase a child’s vulnerability.
“This is a service that is clearly needed for our most vulnerable families and we are grateful to the City and our Virtual PLUS+ partners for their support of this program. The Virtual PLUS+ model relies on collaboration and partnerships to be successful and this is the perfect example of this,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Gregory C. Hutchings, Jr.
ACPS will utilize grant funds to cover most of the $1.2 million cost of the program. City Manager Mark B. Jinks will recommend that the Alexandria City Council provide the remaining $288,000 to ACPS for the 2020-21 academic year to support safe, daytime support for students who meet the eligibility criteria and whose parents are unable to supervise them at home during the school day.
“The City is pleased to partner with ACPS in the provision of this vital service,” said Jinks. “This continues and strengthens the long-standing partnership between the City and ACPS.”
ACPS is also working with other community partners to explore additional free supports for a small number of students. The school division is already connecting families of pre-K students with free child care options based on family needs.
In addition to the free programs, multiple Virtual PLUS+ partners, including The Campagna Center, the City’s Department of Recreation, Parks and Cultural Activities, and the YMCA will be offering income-based child care across the city, promoted through the Virtual PLUS+ Child Care page on the ACPS-at-Home website.
Child care is one of the ‘PLUS’ components of the Virtual PLUS+ model that ACPS is adopting for the fall. Virtual PLUS+ ensures all students receive robust quality instruction while providing additional support that students, staff and families will need to navigate the new content being taught, build relationships with teachers and staff, and stay connected to the school community. The ‘PLUS+’ includes: enhanced and formalized social, emotional and academic learning supports; continued meal distribution; expanded technology resources; and child care options with community partners.
For more on child care options see the ACPS-at-Home website.