By Pam Dudding, Contributing writer
Superintendent Jeanette Warwick, along with Board members, Gina Smith, Trace Bellassai, George Foster and Faye Powers were all present at the September 14 School Board meeting.
Bellassai was nominated as the new Chairman to fill the resignation of Susan Crenshaw.
Covid update of CCPS from Superintendent Jeanette Warwick included six students positive for Covid-19 and four staff, creating 63 students in quarantine due to being in close contact exposures and eight staff.
Warwick clarified the reason for closure last week. “It was not due to positive covid in the schools, but due to the lack of staff, as they had to quarantine and supervise with their children.”
Samuel Foster Director of Instruction and Technology shared the plan for unscheduled remote learning days. Warwick explained that this term has been used interchangeably for going virtual, should the school need to again. Currently, all of CCPS virtual students are being served through Virtual Virginia.
Foster clarified terms and guidelines, such as when they build the calendar where there must be 180 school days and/or 990 instructional hours and what it entails. He added that lunch nor any activities before or after the bell rings for the school day can be included.
“When we start school, we have 180-day calendar and because of the length of our school day, we have 1185 instructional hours that we can count towards the 990.” He shared. “When we start the year, we have 30 banked days, so when we miss a day, we don’t have to essentially worry.”
Foster noted that CCPS misses 17 weather related days on average per year.
He also explained that there is, in-person instruction, virtual instruction which is Virtual Virginia at CCPS and short and long-term remote learning that is developmentally appropriate for the students, (which are for unplanned closed school days such as weather, covid related, etc).
Foster noted that last year, they distributed chrome devises to PreK-12, but it did not work as well K-2. It was better for families and students to have paper packets sent home.
Adding that Principal VanDyke and her staff is working on packets for students to be able to take home in possible case needs for the future.
Foster said that the difficulty the teachers experienced last year was trying to do both virtual and in-class teaching.
“It was a learning curve but CCPS staff and administration has now ironed out the right and wrong ways of the “unforeseen event of March of 2020” that caused the immediate teaching changes,” he shared.
For Short-Term – 10 days or less – all appropriate for their grade level.
- Kindergarten – second grades: Complete work at home with emphasis on reading and math – paper packets
- Three – seven: will use Canvas, emergency modules and work on review material. Daily work to be completed by the student and content will change throughout the year as class progresses through standards
- Eight – twelve: (These teachers already maintain Canvas) – will use Canvas, continue with course work and teachers may adapt or change lessons based on content or objectives (preparing students for ‘beyond’)
For Long-Term remote learning – greater than 10 days (closed due to executive order, health, etc.).
- Shift to complete Virtual Learning with CCPS teachers as instructors (using the Short-term for the first 10 days)
- All students receive direct instruction via Canvas
- Short-Term remote learning modules would be used while staff transitions to 100% virtual model
- Instruction would include both synchronous (students follow a schedule of times to receive instruction) and asynchronous (students watch videos and complete assignments on their own schedule) learning
To count the 10 days, the guidance document provided by the DOE states CCPS must have:
- Power and other required utilities necessary for the provision of instruction and services are still available for students and staff throughout the division
- Students receiving supports under an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or 504 Plan will be able to access services, as applicable and appropriate
- The division will provide student support services (e.g. counseling, consultation, assessment, skill instruction) to students, as appropriate
- The division maintains school meal services for students
- All students have computing devices, Internet connection and/or other supplemental supplies necessary for successful engagement in instruction
- Any student that may be unable to access remote instruction and/or assignments will be provided sufficient opportunity to complete instruction and/or assignments without penalty
Warwick shared that on September 10, the VDH issued a clarification as to what constitutes close contact in quarantine periods. “In indoor and outdoor K-12 settings a student who is within 3-6 feet of an infected student is not considered a close contact as long as both students are wearing well fitting masks the entire time.”
Esser III is the latest round of funding for CCPS. The public gets the opportunity to comment. Foster has been conducting a survey as to what people believe should be the top priorities in the school to forward these funds to.
Foster said that he has a little over 75 people to respond and it is still available if people wish to comment.
“It seems everyone wants us to work on our programs for our students and the HVAC, which we are looking at,” he added.
Warwick shared that they are able to consider the information that they have gathered from firms who have given bids on the current issues at CCPS. Adding, “Obviously, there are many more needs than we have money for, so we try to prioritize what we thought was best for the safety of our kids.”
Foster said, “Esser III is the third round of monies allocated to the schools, based off of our Title I allocations, being allocated $1,292,385.59 where 20% ($258,477.12) has to be reserved for learning loss due to school closure during 2022-2021 and remaining 80% ($1,033,908.47) may be used for mitigation strategies to combat Covid-19, such as HVAC, cleaning supplies, or related.”
He continued for the allocations of the $258,477:
- $105,925 – for the Summer Boost Program in 2022 (noting that the students thoroughly enjoyed this year’s program which was similar to a camp, but with much learning.)
- $143,519 – remediation and acceleration such as IXL, MyOn, Accelerated Reader, STAR 360, Texthelp, Kami, BrainPop, Flocabulary and Writable
- $9,033 – for K-12 ‘Too Good Curriculum which addresses the social and emotional requirement, Too Good for Drugs, Too Good for Violence and programs that have been used previously (Foster noted this is to help combat students who have been experiencing stress and anxiety from the transitions as well as behavioral issues)
Foster shared that they have had multiple contractors in to look at the quote several issues the schools are in need of and “Let me say that it is very expensive to get anything done, especially with the increase of materials. You think a million dollars is a lot, but it is not. We are trying to meet the specific criteria of Esser III, which leads us to two projects.”
For the proposal to allocate the $1,033,908:
- $661,986 to renovate the auditorium – carpet, seating, and HVAC
- $374,006 to renovate the locker rooms – patch floors, new benches, renovate showers and bathrooms, HVAC
The remaining $171,933 of the $545,939 estimate could be a capital expenditure.
Foster also shared that the renovation of the auditorium would give the school a new place to spread out during the “social distancing” and continue learning, without pause.
Warwick said, “At the November VSBA Convention, they will have a delegate assembly where they will vote on priorities and various items, so each school division needs to appoint a delegate and alternate”.
CCPS nominated Trace Bellassai as Delegate and Faye Powers as Alternate as representatives.
“I would like to recognize John and Mary Hunter for taking the lead and assisting with our Land Lab and working with Ms. Nolin, to make what she wants a reality. They have gotten several in-kind and cash donations and it is exciting as I feel this is beginning to become a reality.”
John and Mary shared that they have worked on many aspects of the project. (It will be addressed in a separate article.)
Warwick announced that Denny Williams will be retiring before the end of the year and that she herself will be retiring in November as well.