COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions

Updated: June 8, 2020

Is PPS closing schools?
The Governor of Virginia has declared that all schools in the Commonwealth, including Portsmouth Public Schools, shall be closed for the remainder of the 2019-2020 academic year, in an effort to help prevent the spread of the Coronavirus.

What do I need if my child needs meals while schools are out? 
Children 18 and under can pick up both breakfast and lunch at I.C. Norcom High, Wilson High, Churchland Middle, Cradock Middle, Waters Middle, Churchland Elementary, Churchland Primary and Intermediate, and John Tyler Elementary.

Please note children still must be present to pick up meals. Pick up times will be from 10 a.m. to noon at the high schools and Churchland Middle; all other schools will have pick up times of 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Meals will also be distributed in select neighborhoods through a bus delivery system. 

In addition, PPS has continued to work with the city’s Parks and Recreation Department. The division’s Food Services team will be preparing meals to go for more than 60 city sites that will also serve breakfasts and lunches for families in need. For a full list of all these sites, visit our feeding program webpage. 

How can my child keep learning during this time? 
Families can also visit the meal pickup sites and pick up instructional packets that have been prepared for each grade level and each core content area. These packets will help continue instruction over the course of the time away. New instructional guides for the month of May will be posted online at beginning May 4. Printed packets will be available at the eight feeding program sites beginning Monday, May 4. 

Is PPS grading assignments during this time? How will students advance to the next grade?
The purpose for the instructional materials is to help provide as much normalcy and continuity of instruction as possible for children during this unprecedented time. The packets were designed in such a way that they can stand alone for student work, or they supplement the work of online classrooms. At this time, with schools being mandated to close, there is no requirement for returning packets back to staff for grading. 

We are working with the Virginia Department of Education to ensure that no student is adversely impacted by this extended closure. Specifically, we want to make sure each student is able and ready to be successful in his/her promoted grade. Each school will be looking at students’ wide-ranging efforts this year (including all assignments and assessments through March 13) to identify any additional resources or supports that will be necessary for their future successes.

All assignments since March 13 have been focused on supporting growth in all subject areas and strengthening readiness for the next grade level.

For our elementary and middle school families, students may still submit work that was assigned to them prior to the March 13 school closure.  This work may be graded, but it will only be used if it improves the student’s grade. Please note that grades will not be lowered if work is not submitted. In addition, final grades will be calculated by averaging the first three grading periods. Teachers will be working with students through the end of the school year, and we are planning to offer instructional support for students during the summer to provide continuous learning and resources.

High school students will receive credit for courses in which they were enrolled. No student will receive a lower grade than he or she held on March 13. Teachers are working with students to complete the courses for graduation requirements.  These students are still receiving grades on their assignments. The only exception is Driver’s Education. We are still awaiting options from the VDOE for how we might help students who were enrolled in Driver’s Education when schools closed.

Will there still be graduation ceremonies for this year's seniors?
After careful review of the state materials for future reopening phases, and in conversations with health officials, we do not believe we will be at a place by Aug. 1 to host a large-scale event for our graduation ceremonies. As such, PPS will host curbside celebrations where students come to the school to receive their diplomas and get their photos taken in their cap and gowns. There will be a DJ on campus to greet families, and a stage will be set up for students to cross as their name is called out on the speaker. Families will also have the opportunity to take photos of their graduate. 

The schedule for these celebrations will be as follows:
I.C. Norcom High School – Tuesday, June 23
Wilson High School – Wednesday, June 24
Churchland High School – Thursday, June 25

Each school celebration will be from 9 a.m. to noon, with specific time windows for groups of students. Schools will be communicating those schedules and more details this week. 

The division will also hold a virtual graduation ceremony. Seniors have been asked to check their student email accounts for directions on how to film and upload videos for this ceremony. 

Have any PPS employees been diagnosed with COVID-19?
Since schools were closed by the governor on Monday, March 16, of the roughly 2,100 employees working in PPS, there have been five confirmed cases of COVID-19. To respect the privacy rights of our employees, information of confirmed cases will not be shared publicly unless employees have interacted directly with members of the public. 

What if my child has a field trip scheduled?
For right now, all field trips are cancelled, until further notice. 

What if my child plays sports?
All sports and after school activities have also been cancelled, until further notice.

I have already paid for a school trip/activity that has been cancelled. When will I get my money back?
Currently schools are in the process of refunding some funds to families for school, such as school activities, senior trips, etc. Some money was paid directly to companies/vendors that the schools contract with for services (cap and gowns, graduation invitations, as examples). The schools have been reaching out to these companies to see what their policy is regarding refunds. 

When can I pick up my child's personal belongings still at school? 
In order to comply with Gov. Northam’s executive orders, administration has been working with schools individually to develop a process that is as safe as possible for students, families and staff. 

At elementary schools, staff members have bagged student’s belongings by each classroom and will have those bags available for a curbside pickup process beginning Monday, June 1 through Wednesday, June 3.

For middle and high schools, schools will be open Monday, June 8 – Thursday, June 11, for students to come in the building and collect their materials. If students have musical instruments, this will also be their time to return those instruments to their schools. Please note, we will only be allowing a strict number of students inside the building at each time and social distancing measures will still be in place. As such, families can expect to have some wait times.. 

When can I return school materials back to schools (library books, Chromebooks, etc.)?
Staff is also working on a safe process for school items to be returned at the end of the year. Schools will communicate those opportunities directly with families. 

My child has an IEP. How are his/her needs being met during this time?
Special education program specialists have been in contact with families of students with special needs to see how they are accessing the instructional packets (either print or online) and if there are any additional needs during this school closure. If you have specific questions regarding your child's services, please email 

I need to enroll my child for school next year. What do I do?
You can begin the online enrollment process now by visiting the PPS website and registering online: For specific concerns or inquiries, please email 

What is PPS doing to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 (better known as Coronavirus)?
Portsmouth Public Schools (PPS) has been working closely with the Virginia Department of Health (VDH), the Portsmouth Health Department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Since
 the week of March 9, every building has been thoroughly disinfected through the division’s deep cleaning method. Chemicals of this “Deep Cleaning” consists of DZ-7 Neutral Cleaner and Germicidal Bleach in heavily impacted areas, such as restrooms. Schools that have been temporarily opened for staff to prepare food for the feeding program are routinely deep cleaned after each use. 

To learn more about the proactive steps being taken,
visit the division’s Pandemic Plan.

Staff has also developed a dedicated webpage,, which has reminders of preventative best practices for students, staff and families, including thorough and frequent washing of hands, routinely disinfecting commonly used surfaces and keeping your hands from touching your eyes, nose or mouth throughout the day.

What if my child attends classes at Tidewater Community College through the Dual Enrollment, First College or Early College program? 
Tidewater Community College (TCC) has announced that they are asking students not to return to campus following Spring Break. Classes are cancelled for March 16 and 17. Beginning Wednesday, March 18, TCC will resume classes using remote delivery. For specific questions, please reach out to TCC directly at 757-822-1122.

Who do I contact with specific questions?
If you have any questions about the impact of this school closure on school operations, you can email any question to 

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