Update from Dr. Sovine on Educational Services, SOL Testing, Graduations and Other Services

March 27, 2020

As we conclude the second week of what has become our new normal, I again want to thank each of you for the resilience, flexibility and patience you have shown as we all make adjustments to our personal and professional lives in an effort to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

As a lifelong educator, I believe each day provides an opportunity for learning. Over the past two weeks, everyone has certainly had an opportunity to learn and practice some of the skills that are included in the Frederick County Public Schools Portrait of a Graduate and our strategic plan Inspire 2025: A Promise for Progress (www.inspire2025.net). Communication; collaboration; empathy; flexibility, adaptability and resilience; creativity and innovation; and critical thinking and problem solving have been a part of our daily work. Each of you has likely utilized these skills at home as you adjust to our current reality. Although we are facing many challenges, I encourage you to continue to practice patience and remain positive. Together, our school community and our greater community will get through this unprecedented time.

Below is information on our plans to provide continued educational opportunities for all students as well as an update on some of the services being offered to assist students and staff as well as their families.

Educational Services
Over the past week, teachers and other professional staff have been working hard to communicate with students and their families while developing materials and activities that students may complete at home. Although the materials provided to students through April 9 will only focus on practicing and reinforcing skills that have already been taught and any student work that’s completed will not be graded or result in any extra credit, it is important for students to practice skills they’ve learned. Upon returning from Spring Break on April 15, we are planning to begin offering new instruction through the end of the fourth nine weeks (June 5). Additional information on how the instruction will be provided to all students, grading practices and other details will be provided as our plans are finalized over the coming weeks.

To aid in our efforts to provide instruction to all students, we are still asking families who do not have Internet access to contact each school in which they have a child enrolled to make the school aware (www.frederick.k12.va.us/schools). There is no need to do this if you have already made the schools aware this week. In addition, students should be routinely checking their FCPS e-mail account for important information and updates from both individual teachers and/or schools. Schools will be providing print materials to any students who need them to ensure all students receive the same educational opportunity.

Following the Governor’s announcement on Monday that schools will remain closed through the end of the current academic year, the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) began providing guidance on a number of issues including the continuation of educational services. The guidance and other valuable information is available at COVID-19 & Virginia Public Schools. Virginia Superintendent of Public Instruction James Lane is seeking maximum flexibility for schools and students with regards to Standards of Learning (SOL) testing, the awarding of standard and verified credits, and other testing. In addition, Dr. Lane has announced that high school seniors who were on track to graduate this year will be able to earn a diploma despite the closure of schools to combat the pandemic. Other students who were on track to be promoted to the next grade level will proceed on their educational journey next year as well.

Although the status of our graduation ceremonies scheduled for June 3-5 remains unclear, we are committed to recognizing the accomplishments of our graduating seniors at some point and in some manner. We hope to recognize other students for milestones they’ve achieved during the 2019-20 school year as well. It is far too early to offer any details on what these recognitions may look like, but I want you to know that it’s something we plan to do.

Food Services
Last Friday, we began serving free breakfast and lunch to school-aged children on weekdays at each of our high schools and a number of satellite locations. So far, more than 10,000 meals have been provided and the daily numbers have been climbing. Details, including the satellite locations, pickup times and menu options, are available at https://bit.ly/FCPSmeals. A special thanks to our school nutrition services and transportation staff members who are making this program possible.

Bright Futures Frederick-Winchester is continuing to offer Bright Futures Food Packs biweekly to our more than 900 students who typically receive them at school each week. Another food pack distribution is planned for next week and details will be shared in advance. Families in need of support should contact our Student Support Services Department at 540-662-3888 x88144. Food and monetary donations to support this effort are still needed. Information is available at http://bit.ly/BFfoodpackneeds and https://bit.ly/BFmonetarygift.

Information Technology Services
Although all school offices and all outdoor facilities at our schools such as athletic fields, courts and playgrounds are closed due to the COVID-19 social distancing recommendations, students and staff who need wifi access to the FCPS network are welcome to access the network outside of schools. We only ask that social distancing be practiced. Details on our wifi access are available at https://bit.ly/FCPSwifiaccess.

Our Technical Triage Center remains open each weekday from 7:00 a.m.-9:00 a.m., Noon-1:00 p.m. and
2:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m. The center, which is located in the building behind James Wood Middle School and staffed by members of the Information Technology Department, is where students and staff can go when they experience technical problems with their school-issued devices, including Chromebooks. Those with questions about school-issued devices can also call 540-545-2434 for assistance during the hours the center is open.

The information shared above only highlights some of the services being offered and the work being done in an effort to serve our students and their families despite the school closure. Additional details are available on our website in both English (http://bit.ly/FCPSCOVID19) and Spanish (http://bit.ly/FCPSCOVID19espanol).

I know you have many questions for which we don’t have answers at this time. How does a parent register a child for kindergarten? How does my child retrieve items left at school? How does my child return library books and other resources to their school? These are just a few of the many questions and issues we will have to address over the coming months. I again ask that you practice patience and continue looking for communications we share through our website, our FCPS Facebook page and the FCPS Rapid Communication System. Next week, we will provide instructions and ask that you use Parent/Student 360 to review your contact information to help us make sure all communications are delivered efficiently.

Thanks again for your support. Together, we are making progress.

Dr. David T. Sovine
Superintendent of Schools