Loudoun School Board Prepares for Next Return-to-School Vote

The Loudoun School Board on Tuesday night is set to undertake a series of votes that will lay out the structure and schedule for returning more students to the classroom on a part-time basis. 

The board is expected to formally endorse the staff plan to allow students in grades 3-5 and seniors at the Academy of Science and the Academy of Engineering and Technology to begin hybrid classes—with two days of in-person instruction each week—starting Dec. 1. 

More uncertain is whether the board will back the staff proposal to not begin hybrid tracks for middle and high school students until the start of the second semester on Jan. 21. Several board members, as well as a vocal contingent of parents at board meetings, have pressed for an earlier return. Meanwhile, administrators continue to wrestle with a list of daunting challenges—from technology needs, to space constraints, to bus schedules.  

The plans are being developed based on results of parental surveys during the summer when roughly half of students opted for 100% distance learning and half for the hybrid model that includes some in-person instruction. 

As part of the planning, administrators are weighing options that would change the expectations for in-person learning—possibly moving desks closer together to accommodate more students in classrooms, or reducing the number of in-person days to one each week, or allocating the limited number of in-person class seats by lottery. Also, school leaders are working to develop a “concurrent hybrid” system in which distance learning students and hybrid students during their at-home days would participate in live classes with students in the classroom for their in-person learning days. 

Once the School Board formally endorses the parameters for hybrid learning going forward, parents will be asked to affirm or change their choice of learning track during a new survey to be conducted through Nov. 20. Those decisions would be used to plan for student schedules starting in the second semester. The administration is proposing a series of town hall-style meetings during the survey week to answer parents’ questions about the options. Under the proposal, those would be held Nov. 11 for grades 3-5, Nov. 12 for middle schoolers, and Nov. 16 for high school families. 

Once the second semester parental selections are made, the school staff will take the next month to build the schedule for hybrid in-person days by Dec. 20 and finish the transportation routing plan by Jan. 15, under the proposed timeline.

Tuesday night’s School Board briefing also includes information gathered from a survey of teachers leading distance learning classes. 

According to the responses, the vast majority of teachers reported spending more time planning for their online classes than for conventional classes and two thirds said they are spending at least six hours per week beyond their contract time to prepare for classes. 

The survey also shows high stress levels among distance learning teachers. About 60% reported experiencing stress frequently or almost always. And only 57% of the online teachers said they were able to manage the stress in a healthy way. 

At the same time, the teachers cited the need for socio-emotional support for students as their top concern, even above addressing challenges with the technology. 

2 thoughts on “Loudoun School Board Prepares for Next Return-to-School Vote

  • 2020-11-09 at 5:21 pm
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    I encourage Loudoun parents to attend the School Board Show tomorrow night!

    They have had EIGHT MONTHS to plan something, but under the “leadership” of Williams, we will watch the board thrash around wondering what to do.

    Hint: FOCUS ON EDUCATING LOUDOUN YOUTH.

    Back to school for everyone. We know so much more about the virus now. There is NO excuse not to open up the schools K-12.

  • 2020-11-11 at 11:43 am
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    Now that he is gone, it’s time to get rid of the current school board, reopen schools, end anti-White Critical Race Theory indoctrination, and stop pushing the LGBTQ agenda in school libraries.

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