End of the Semester, Return to School, and More
On January 6, T.C. Principal Peter Balas hosted the first Principal’s Chat of the new year and discussed an array of topics including transitioning semesters, potentially returning to school, student grade decreases, Teacher of the Year nominations, and more.
The first semester ends on January 28; the following day is a Teacher Work Day. The new semester will mark the beginning of the academic advisement process for students to create schedules for next year. The first week of February will have SOL testing. “We have delayed all testing until the Spring,” said Balas.
Back-to-School Night for the second semester is on February 16th. “Teachers will post videos giving an introduction to the course and all of the normal things you would have covered at [in-person] back-to-school night,” said Balas. Parent-teacher conferences will be pushed to about a month later than the typical timeline and will tentatively be held in the beginning to mid-March.
As for a return to schools, ACPS will evaluate the potential for this on each asynchronous Monday. If students do eventually have the opportunity to return to in-person learning, they will have the option to maintain their current virtual environment or adopt a hybrid schedule and go into the building a couple days a week. Balas ensured that for students and teachers who return to the school building, there will be “dedication each day to cleaning and sanitizing.”
The virtual learning environment students have worked in since September, however, has certainly been a significant factor in the grade decreases evident in the first quarter. There have been more D’s and F’s compared to last year. A link to this data is listed as follows: https://esbpublic.acps.k12.va.us/attachments/7fb8ec99-53c2-467e-a3b6-d00b81dcd4a9.pdf. Despite this occurrence, Balas said, “Our social workers, counseling staff, and teachers have actually spent a large amount of time reaching out to families with issues with students.”
To acknowledge the hard work of the teachers during this time, Teacher and Support Staff of the Year nominations are occurring now. Adam Lewis, who teaches social studies at Minnie Howard, Vilma Zefran, the TV Productions teacher at the King Street campus, Teresa Gordon, a psychologist at the Satellite campus, and Nora Lansing of the T.C. Student Help Desk are among some of the nominees. Their official documentation for this has to be submitted by January 15.
The next Principal’s Chat is likely to occur at the end of the second quarter.