PPS Reopening Frequently Asked Questions

Updated March 5, 2021

1. When are employees returning to the buildings and students returning to school?
The School Board of the City of Portsmouth voted at its March 4 meeting to approve a school reopening plan that would allow students in prekindergarten through sixth grade to return for in-person instruction on a hybrid schedule (two full days in person, three days virtual). All middle and high school students will remain in virtual instruction for the rest of the year.

With this approved plan, self-contained special education and English Language Learners (EL) students in all grades would be able to return to in-person instruction on a four-day schedule.

This hybrid schedule will go into place Monday, April 12. In preparation for students’ return, all PPS staff members will return to schools and buildings Monday, March 29.

2. When schools do reopen, what will the two educational options (in-person hybrid and virtual) look like?
Reopening will have two options: 1) an in-person/hybrid model in which students will attend school two full days and participate in virtual learning three days and 2) a virtual model that involves all instruction being delivered online.

Classes will be divided into two groups, with one group attending school on Mondays and Tuesdays while the second group attends on Thursdays and Fridays. Wednesdays will remain Flipped Learning Days for the entire division. In the all-virtual schedule, students will receive instruction online through division-issued devices as well as the division’s learning management system. Students will have assigned times to log on and participate in classroom lessons, and they will be provided guided lessons and assignments to complete.

3. If I chose the in-person/hybrid model, can I choose which schedule I prefer for my child?
Parents and guardians may advise their principals of a preferred schedule. However, how students are assigned will be the result of the student participation levels needed for each option. Consequently, families are asked to understand that principals will make decisions that are realistic and take into account the challenges associated with ensuring adequate staffing for both educational options – hybrid and virtual. This mean that families may not always be able to get the schedules they prefer.

4. What if my child is a student with special needs or an ELL student?
Students with special needs in a self-contained setting or who are English Language Learners (EL) who elect the hybrid schedule will be able to receive four full days of in-person instruction. Staff from the Office of Special Education as well as Office of Gifted and Talented, World Languages, and English as a Second Language will be communicating with families to address specific needs.

5. Will my child have the same teacher when school re-opens?
Principals will make good faith efforts to keep children with their same teachers in 2021, in some cases (where staff may take extended leave or retire) that may not be possible.

6. Will there be a before/after school care program provided for hybrid days?
Yes, the school division’s partnership with childcare agency, AlphaBest, will continue to provide before and after school childcare in elementary schools. However, it is important to note that the availability in terms of capacity will be different from school to school depending upon available space.

7. Will there be a lunch period provided for children when they are in school?
Yes, both breakfast and lunch will be provided on the days that students are in school. For more information regarding Food Services during the pandemic, please see the division’s Reopening Manual.

8. When schools reopen, will students on the hybrid schedule have the same teacher on hybrid days as they do virtual days?
Yes, students will have the same teacher on their in-person days of instruction as they do in virtual instruction (unless there is a substitute for that day.

9. Will teachers be providing in classroom instruction and virtual instruction simultaneously on hybrid days?
Yes, teachers will be providing in-classroom instruction and virtual instruction simultaneously.

10. Will transportation be provided on the days that students report to school?
Yes, transportation will be provided on the days that students on the hybrid model report to school. Bus routes will be posted to ppsk12.us ahead of the April 12 return date.

11. Will the hybrid and virtual models remain in place for the remainder of the 2020-2021 academic school year?
Yes, when schools reopen April 12 the division will maintain two models, hybrid and virtual, for the remainder of the school year.

12. Will parents have the option to change their selection for hybrid or 100% virtual instruction later on?
All K-8 parents were surveyed about the two options, but at that time the survey was based on a reopening plan that had the hybrid schedule with two half-days of instruction. Knowing that the schedule now includes two full days of instruction and that could change families’ decision, families are able to reach out to their schools directly to request a change to their survey result. However, following March 19, no other changes can be made.

13. When reopening takes places, what work has been completed to help ensure the safety of our children and staff?
The health and safety of students and staff is the division’s highest priority in reopening. The PPS Department of Auxiliary Services has been the lead on implementing all health and safety precautions within all schools and buildings. Auxiliary Services created a Pandemic Committee in March of 2020, which has been in charge of examining CDC guidelines and recommended mitigation strategies; visiting and collaborating with local school divisions to determine best practices; reviewing all plans with the Portsmouth Health Department; providing support and training to all principals and building administrators; researching new disinfecting/cleaning procedures and strategically integrating those practices throughout the division; and creating and deploying Deep Disinfecting Teams.

Deep Disinfecting Teams (DDTs) were created to support custodial teams in routinely deep cleaning and disinfecting all buildings on a rotating schedule. DDTs utilize 50 hand-held electrostatic sprayers and 21 mobile electric misting machines along with DZ7 and other industrial-strength cleaners. PPS is also researching outside vendors to potentially support DDT efforts when schools reopen.

For more information about the division’s mitigation strategies and protections in place, please see the division’s Reopening Manual.

14. What if our family is not able to follow the school’s virtual schedule?
For virtual classrooms, there will be a morning schedule for students to log on and take part in instruction and interact with their teacher (similar to a school day). In order to support families, though, there will also be recorded lessons that can be utilized at any time during the day to provide as much flexibility for families who may be working during the day or cannot otherwise access the instruction at the scheduled time.

15. Will assignments be graded?
Yes, all assignments given are expected to be completed and they will be graded in accordance with the division’s grading scale.

16. Will attendance continue to be taken?
Yes, attendance will be taken and students will be held accountable if they do not attend.

17. For elementary school, will my child still be able to participate in ENCORE courses (art, music and P.E.)?
Yes, art, music and P.E. courses will still be provided on a rotating schedule for students.

18. Will my child still have to take SOLs this year?
Virginia Superintendent of Public Instruction James Lane has waived annual school accreditation for the 2021-2022 academic year. Schools will be assigned a rating of “Accreditation Waived,” the same rating assigned schools for 2020-2021 under a waiver issued in April.

However, all students still must complete spring SOL tests, which will have to be taken in-person. All students must come in school to take these SOL tests. Transportation will be provided.

 

 

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