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Virginia Beach Public Schools shares coronavirus action plan

District Superintendent Dr. Aaron Spence is reaching out with a community update during the coronavirus outbreak.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Virginia Beach Public Schools has an action plan for the year, since schools had to close their doors during the coronavirus outbreak.

In a letter to the community, Virginia Beach Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Aaron Spence said this is new territory. 

“It’s been a very busy time,” he said.

However, he promised to keep families updated by posting on the school district’s COVID-19 website and releasing YouTube video updates every Tuesday and Thursday.

Spence said last night the school board voted to extend the third quarter through April 24. The fourth quarter will start on April 27. 

He explained that this is meant to give teachers, parents and students time to adjust to changes.

On April 6, students and teachers will start a new schedule.

The plan is for teachers to spend Mondays in professional development training. Students will only be taught by their teachers from Tuesday through Friday for the rest of the academic year.

Starting April 27, everyone will start a new virtual learning plan, because the Virginia Department Of Education's official guidance said students must "demonstrate they’ve mastered the content," and schools must document their students' learning. 

He said, “We have a learning management system called Schoology, and a lot of the work can be done and transferred on Schoology.”

Some teachers are already using virtual learning, for their "Continuity of Learning Program." 

Those include teachers for Lara Pham’s daughter, who attends a Virginia Beach Public school.

“She missed seeing her friends," said Pham.

Pham said she found out about these changes Thursday night. “I was really pleased to get the email. I thought it was great.”

It’s a line of communication she says parents appreciate in this time of uncertainty. Spence said all students need to complete and submit coursework assigned by their teachers in order to move on to the next grade level or graduate.

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Third-quarter grades will be calculated based on a student’s grade as of March 13. 

However, the superintendent said students can work with teachers to improve their third-quarter grade by completing missing assignments and tests, just like they would have if schools had been allowed to stay open.

Additional tests - like AP exams - will continue, according to The College Board. Teachers have resources to help students take the tests online at home. 

However, Spence announced International Baccalaureate exams were canceled.

Considering a majority of the schoolwork will be online, Spence is asking families to reach out if they are having difficulty getting laptops or wifi.

According to the press release, students or guardians should contact the Department of Technology Help Desk at (757) 263-1111 between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, or fill out this form.

Spence says he’ll make sure current seniors graduate, as long as they are in the classes they already need to meet standard or advanced diploma requirements and were on track to graduate as of March 13.

If a child was not on track, Spence said the schools will do everything possible to get students where they need to be.

As for milestone events, like graduation, the school hopes to do something for graduation that is “both memorable and safe,” but said it’s too soon to know what that might look like.

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For students who left personal belongings in the school or medications in the clinic, guardians can pick up those items soon.

All school buildings will be open Tuesday and Wednesday beginning March 31. Parents who need to pick up their child’s personal belongings or complete enrollments and withdrawals may do so by appointment only, between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Be sure to bring a photo ID.

“A lot of parents left medication in the clinic that they might be needing for their student," said Spence.

Spence said guardians need to email their principal to arrange an appointment, and social distancing of six feet will be maintained at the in-person meeting.

Free pick-up meals continue for all students at any of the 36 schools and 5 designated neighborhoods, weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon. 

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