Return to Learn: Plan for a Safe Return 2020-2021

Return to Learn: Plan for a Safe Return 2020-2021

The Newport News School Board voted for all students to begin the school year with virtual learning during the first quarter, Sep. 8 to Nov. 2.

NNPS Will Start School Virtually

During its special meeting on August 5, the Newport News School Board voted for all students to begin the school year with virtual learning during the first quarter (September 8 - November 2).

Next week, families may access a learning intent form through ParentVue to decide if their child(ren) will continue virtual learning through the end of the first semester (January 27). Families can also indicate if their elementary student needs a loaner device and if they have child care needs. Parents/guardians without a ParentVue account may sign up for one by contacting their child's school.

To read more about virtual learning, please read our Frequently Asked Questions.

Virtual Learning Sample Schedules:

Talking to Children about COVID-19

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and other organizations have resources to assist parents and guardians as they talk with children about COVID-19 and its impact.

The CDC website offers tips for talking with children and facts about COVID to discuss with children.

The National Association of School Psychologists’ website includes information on Helping Children Cope With Changes Resulting From COVID-19.

Planning for a Safe Return

Newport News Public Schools is committed to partnering with our families to provide a healthy and safe environment, quality instruction, daily meals for students, and other resources to ensure that students are engaged in learning.

In early July, the Governor and the Virginia Department of Education released a guidance document that serves as a recommendation for the reopening of Virginia schools for the 2020-2021 school year. The document outlines school reopening phases that are aligned with the Forward Virginia phases, through which the state will progress by monitoring COVID-19 public health data.

  • Phase One: The predominant mode of instruction for all students is virtual learning. In-person learning options with strict physical distancing are permitted for special education students based upon Individualized Education Plans; no large gatherings may be held and no athletics or extracurricular activities may be offered.
  • Phase Two: Expands options to more students for in-person instruction to include preschool through grade 3 and English learners for whom in-person instruction is not as easily replaced; schools must follow strict physical distancing guidelines; no gatherings of more than 10 people and limited athletics and extracurricular activities may be offered.
  • Phase Three :Expands in-person instruction for all students but with strict social distancing that may require staggered schedules; gatherings are limited to 250 people and athletics and other activities may be offered with physical distancing.
  • Beyond Phase Three: School divisions will resume "new-normal" operations in consultation with public health officials.

Phase Guidance for Virginia Public Schools

Phase 1

Permissible in-person instruction:
Special education programs (class limit of 10 students) and child care for working families.

Limitations on gatherings:
A maximum of 10 riders per bus, classroom, or other discrete place.

Social/physical distancing:
6 feet distancing to be maintained between desks, tables, workstations, and between students and staff to greatest extent possible.

Groups:
Restrict mixing groups of students.

Athletics and activities:
Prohibited.

Communal spaces:
Close communal spaces.

Phase 2

Permissible in-person instruction:
Phase 1 plus PK-3 students, English learners, and summer camps in school buildings.

Limitations on gatherings:
50-person limit on gatherings with social disancing practices in place.

Social/physical distancing:
6 feet distancing to be maintained to greatest extent possible.

Groups:
Restrict mixing groups of students.

Athletics and activities:
Limited extracurricular activities and athletics with mitigation strategies.

Communal spaces:
Close communal spaces if possible, otherwise stagger use and disinfect between use.

Phase 3

Permissible in-person instruction:
All students may receive in-person instruction as can be accommodated with strict social distancing measures in place, which may require alternative schedules that blend in-person and distance learning for students.

Limitations on gatherings:
Large gathering limit (250), subject to updated Executive Order at the time.

Social/physical distancing:
6 feet distancing to be maintained to greatest extent possible.

Groups:
Consider restricting mixing groups of students, adjusting schedules, transitions, recess options and instruction.

Athletics and activities:
Extracurricular activities and athletics with physical distancing.

Communal spaces:
Close or stagger use of communal spaces.

Return to Learn Plan

The health, wellbeing and safety of Newport News Public Schools’ students and staff is paramount and served as the guiding principle for the Return to Learn Plan. In preparation for the start of the 2020-2021 school year, Newport News Public Schools has aligned its operations in accordance with the reopening guidelines outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Virginia Department of Health (VDH), and the Virginia Department of Education’s (VDOE) School Reopening Guidelines.

The NNPS Return to Learn Plan includes information about virtual learning and hybrid learning. It also addresses enhanced social distancing and physical distancing measures; and cleaning, disinfecting and other mitigation strategies to the greatest extent possible.

The NNPS Return to Learn Plan was developed with input from parents/guardians, students, staff, advisory groups and community stakeholders, and will be submitted to the Virginia Department of Education.

During its special meeting on August 5, the Newport News School Board voted for all students to begin the school year with virtual learning during the first quarter (September 8- November 2).

In mid-August, parents/guardians will be able to access a learning intent form through ParentVue to decide if their child(ren) will continue virtual learning through the end of the first semester (January 27). They can also indicate if their elementary student needs a loaner device and if they have child care needs. Parents/guardians without a ParentVue account may sign up for one by contacting their child’s school.

NNPS will continue to monitor public health conditions and will follow all executive orders and local guidance. If health conditions warrant a change in the state’s reopening phase, this plan will be updated.

Health & Safety

The goal of Newport News Public Schools’ Health Services Department is to provide a healthy school environment to foster greater academic achievement and healthier lives for students and staff.

Before any students can return to school, each school division is required to submit a health plan to the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE). The NNPS plan outlines the school division’s plans for student and staff health monitoring; communication plan with staff, students and families; preparation of student health services; promoting behaviors that reduce the spread of COVID-19; hygiene practices; protecting vulnerable individuals and preparing for when someone gets sick. Newport News Public Schools submitted its health plan to the VDOE on July 17, 2020.

The NNPS health plan addresses daily health screenings, physical distancing on buses and in classrooms, social distancing; cleaning and disinfecting, the use of face coverings; and restricts mixing groups of students, large gatherings and the use of communal spaces (cafeterias, gyms, auditoriums).

Daily Health Screenings

View daily health screening questionnaires for students, staff, and visitors.

Students: All parents/guardians will be asked to conduct a health screening of their child each day (daily health questionnaire) before the child reports to school or boards a school bus. Before leaving home, parents/guardians will ensure that their child does not have a fever or have any other symptoms of COVID–19 and has not been exposed to anyone who exhibits symptoms of the virus.

Staff: All NNPS staff will be required to ensure that they do not have a fever or any other COVID–19 symptoms and have not been exposed to anyone who exhibits symptoms of COVID-19 before reporting to work.

Students and staff with a temperature above 100.4 degrees, and/or who are exhibiting any possible signs of illness including a cough or body aches, should not report to school or work until they are fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever reducing medications, show improvement in respiratory symptoms, and can ensure that 10 days have passed since their symptoms first appeared.

To ensure the health and safety of all, students, parents/guardians and Staff should:

  • Stay home when sick
  • Wear a cloth face covering
  • Cover coughs and sneezes
  • Practice proper hand hygiene
  • Maintain physical distancing
  • Answer the daily health questionnaire before leaving for school or work

Throughout the school year, Health Services staff will educate staff, students, and families about COVID-19 and mitigating its spread.

COVID Response

Clear, documented procedures have been created for a presumptive or confirmed COVID case and positive health screening within NNPS.

A separate COVID isolation room will be available in each school for students or staff showing symptoms of COVID–19; parents MUST arrange for child to be transported home as soon as possible. Disposable masks will be provided to those presumed to be infected and isolation rooms will be cleaned and disinfected frequently.

Health Services staff will communicate directly with the local health district, as required. If a positive case has been identified and verified by the local health district. Health Services staff will communicate the next steps to all identified contacts as recommended by the health district.

Return to class/work protocols: Following a presumptive or confirmed case of COVID-19, students and staff may return to class and work if fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever reducing medications and if there has been improvement in respiratory symptoms (e.g. cough, shortness of breath), and if at least 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared.

A healthcare practitioner's notice to return to school is required in accordance with NNPS policy.

Face Coverings and PPE

Face Coverings: All NNPS students and staff will be required to wear a face covering while on the bus and inside the building if social distancing is not possible unless the student or staff member is medically exempt.

Disposable masks will be provided to students and staff who are unable to provide their own or if they do not have a face covering upon entering the building or boarding the school bus.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): Staff members who need gloves or other protective equipment will be provided these items. Examples of other protective equipment include face shields and gowns for health services staff and other staff where their work requires it to be safe.

Physical Distancing

All students and staff are expected to maintain a six-foot physical distance. Classrooms will be reconfigured to ensure that students engaged with in-person learning will be seated at least six feet apart at desks or tables to the maximum extent possible in classrooms.

As mandated by the Virginia Department of Education, one-on-one assessments and evaluations may be required for certain students; in these cases, teachers and staff will be required to wear masks and face shields. If a six-foot distance cannot be maintained during small group instruction, teachers and staff are required to wear masks and face shields.

To minimize group interaction, students will eat breakfast and lunch in the classroom.

School bus routes and schedules will be adjusted to allow for one student on each seat and masks will be required.

Back-to-school events, including open house nights, will be held electronically.

Cleaning Protocols

Newport News Public Schools’ cleaning schedules and practices comply with current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Virginia Department of Health guidelines for cleaning and disinfecting public facilities.

Cleaning and sanitizing will occur daily. All frequently touched areas including doors, countertops, knobs, hand railings and windows will be cleaned throughout the day while buildings are occupied. A deep cleaning and disinfecting will occur twice weekly in all schools and offices.

As a preventative measure, all water fountains will be wrapped to prevent public use. Students and staff will be encouraged to bring their own bottled water.

Hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes will be available at the main entrance of each facility and at other locations throughout our schools and offices.

In addition, bus drivers will clean and sanitize buses following each route. Community use of school division facilities during non-school hours will be restricted.

Teaching & Learning

Newport News Public Schools is dedicated to providing high quality instruction to all students. All instruction and assignments will follow the Virginia Standards of Learning and align to the written, taught, and assessed curriculum to promote continuous learning.

During the 2020-2021 school year, the school division is expanding its one-to-one technology initiative to provide a Chromebook for every student in kindergarten through 12th grade to support learning in-person and online.

NNPS has developed two options for school re-opening for families based on survey data from parents, staff, students, advisory groups, and other key community stakeholders.

Proposed Learning Models

Newport News Public Schools will provide two learning options for students based on survey input from parents, students and staff. Through ParentVue, parents/guardians will be able to select the learning model that best serves their child.

Hybrid Learning

Students attend school two days each week for in-person instruction with teachers, two days at home with teacher-guided instruction for elementary students and teacher check-ins for secondary students, and one day of independent learning.

Students work independently on Wednesdays except for small group instruction for identified students.

In-person class sizes are smaller in order to maintain social distancing and safety measures outlined by the CDC.

Instruction is facilitated by teachers through the Canvas Learning Management System.

Students complete and submit assignments in Canvas.

Teachers provide student feedback and/or post grades weekly.

Teachers differentiate instruction to include enrichment and innovative lessons that provide student voice and choice in learning.

Virtual Learning

Students engage in four days of at-home virtual learning with teacher support, and one day of independent learning.
 
 

Students work independently on Wednesdays except for small group instruction for identified students.

Class sizes are larger because learning is virtual and CDC guidelines do not apply.

Instruction is facilitated by teachers using the Canvas Learning Management System.

Students complete and submit assignments in Canvas.

Teachers provide student feedback and/or post grades weekly.

Teachers differentiate instruction to include enrichment and innovative lessons that provide student voice and choice in learning.

Hybrid Learning Schedule

Virtual Learning Schedule

Both the hybrid and virtual learning models give students the opportunity to engage in new learning with support and access to technology for instruction.

Technology

During the 2020-2021 school year, Newport News Public Schools is expanding its one-to-one technology initiative to provide a Chromebook for every student in kindergarten through 12th grade to support learning in-person and online.

Access to Computers

  • 1:1 Chromebooks for every student in Grades K-12
  • For use in school and at home
  • Familiar and easy to use platform
  • Full implementation at all grade levels by second semester

To support blended learning, NNPS has accelerated our digital transformation plans and purchased enough Chromebooks so that every student in grades K-12 can have a device.  Chromebooks are a familiar platform to NNPS students, as they are currently used in all grade levels and content areas.

With school districts around the globe transitioning to online learning in response to the pandemic, the demand for student computers has never been higher.  At the same time, supply-chain problems in the Spring have made it even more difficult for computer manufacturers to keep up with that demand.  As a result, some of the devices we’ve purchased may not arrive in our schools until December.

  • Devices for secondary school students will be ready for distribution at the beginning of the school year.
  • Chromebooks for elementary school students will be ready for distribution in December.  In the interim, loaner devices will be made available for elementary school students who don’t have access to a computer at home.

CoNNected @Home Program

  • Eligible families will receive no-cost options to connect to the Internet
  • Application will be available in early August
  • All NNPS families can receive assistance in applying for low-cost Internet access

Because NNPS is committed to ensuring that every student can participate in online learning, both on and off campus, we are launching our CoNNected @Home program.

Data from the State and the City indicates that approximately 20% of the families in Newport News may not have reliable access to the Internet.  Our own experiences following the COVID-19 closures confirmed those estimates.

With that in mind, NNPS will provide mobile wi-fi hotspots to eligible students who might not otherwise have reliable access to the Internet. The hotspots, which will be provided at no-cost to eligible families, will empower students to access learning anywhere, anytime.  To keep our students safe online, the same stringent content filtering is applied regardless of how or where the student connects to the Internet.

Families not meeting the eligibility requirements for no-cost Internet can still receive assistance in applying for low-cost Internet solutions through this program.

We will be sharing more information with our families in the coming weeks and we’ll begin accepting applications for this program in early August.

Canvas Learning Management System

To support virtual and blended in-person and online learning, NNPS is implementing Canvas, a new learning management system. The Canvas Learning Management Platform allows NNPS to build an interactive, blended and digital learning environment that meets the unique needs of each student. Canvas operates as a virtual classroom. Instruction for both learning models will be facilitated by teachers with Canvas.

Canvas gives teachers the opportunity to deliver virtual instruction and assignments in one organized space, track student progress and post grade assignments. Students will be able to submit their work in a variety of ways (text box, discussion, file upload) and receive teacher feedback, track assignments due, access organized class materials by course, and connect and communicate with other teachers, students, and parents.

Students with Disabilities

In order to ensure equitable access to educational opportunities and the provision of a free and appropriate education for students with disabilities, NNPS has developed the following guidelines to support the unique needs of students with disabilities which are aligned with the Virginia Department of Education's and the CDC Guidance for Schools. In each reopening phase, specialized instruction and related services will be provided to students according to their Individualized Education Plan (IEP) using multiple formats for the delivery of instruction.

  • General Curriculum (includes students with emotional disabilities, specific learning disabilities and mild intellectual disabilities): Students who receive services primarily in the general education setting (collaborative & resource) will participate in instruction following the plan established for their general education peers.
  • Adapted Curriculum (includes self-contained students with moderate intellectual disabilities, severe intellectual disability and autism): In-person instruction will be provided to the maximum extent possible.
  • Students identified as hearing impaired or visually impaired will receive in-person instruction; they may also require a hybrid model to permit continued participation in scheduled general education classes meeting virtually (if model for general education peers includes virtual instruction).

Gifted Services

The Department of Gifted Services provides a variety of programs designed to meet the needs of students with exceptional intellectual abilities from kindergarten through 12th grade. The Gifted Services instructional program is designed around the learning styles and cognitive characteristics of gifted children.

Instruction will be provided for hybrid learning and virtual learning. Primary gifted students will be grouped in classes with a P-TAG teacher at school.

The Governor's School for Science and Technology will use Canvas and all teaching sessions will be recorded so students have 24 hour access to instruction. Mentorships will continue to be conducted virtually unless they can be held safely in-person by the CDC safeguards. View more information about the Governor's School.

English as a Second Language

Language Instructional Education Programs (LIEP) for English Learners (ELs) will continue through each school reopening phase in order to ensure that ELs are continuing to develop English language skills and receive support in academic courses. In addition, accommodations will be provided to ELs according to their English Learner Support (ELS) plan while all teachers work to differentiate the learning for ELs in their classes.

Newcomers: ELs in the specialized Newcomer program will be provided in-person instruction to the maximum extent possible in phases II and III. This may include a hybrid model of in-person and virtual instruction. When in-person instruction is not an option, Newcomers will participate in a structured virtual learning experience guided by their teacher online throughout the learning day.

English Language Development (ELD): ELs in the ELD programs will be provided in-person instruction to the maximum extent possible in phases II and III. These students receive language instruction and support in a variety of models such as small group language instruction, whole class language and academic support, and collaboratively taught classes. Students will continue to participate in their ELD groups/classes following a similar mode established for general education peers.

Social & Emotional Learning

In an effort to promote social emotional competencies, positive behaviors and mental health well-being for all students, NNPS has developed the following plans for Phase I, II, and III that will support social emotional learning and mental health of staff and students. School Psychologists, School Social Workers, Student Support Specialists and Mental Health Care Clinicians will provide social, emotional, mental health care and support services, within the school setting, that are aligned with VDOE's Phased Guidance for Virginia Schools and CASEL Reunite, Renew, and Thrive: SEL Roadmap for Reopening School.

School Counseling

School Counselors will schedule face-to-face and virtual sessions with students. Sessions will consist of both individual and small groups.

Click here for school and community resources or call your school counselor.

Activities & Extended Learning

In-person clubs and activities may be held with physical distancing; virtual club meetings and activities are encouraged.

Co-curricular activities will be conducted (in-person or virtually) based on current state guidelines and protocols established by the regional, state, or national organization sponsoring the event.

Athletics

On July 27, The Virginia High School League announced a delay in the start of the sport seasons:

  • Winter sports (basketball, gymnastics, indoor track, swimming/diving and wrestling) will take place December 14 – February 20; first contest date is December 28
  • Fall sports (cheer, cross country, field hockey, football, golf and volleyball) have been moved to February 15 – May 1; first contest is March 1
  • Spring sports (baseball, lacrosse, soccer, softball, tennis and track & field) will take place April 12 – June 26; first contest is April 26

NNPS is working to establish a student athlete conditioning schedule in compliance with the Virginia High School League, the Virginia Department of Health, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.

Student Meal Service

Hybrid Learning Option

To minimize interaction when students attend school in-person, students will eat breakfast and lunch in the classroom at their desk or table.

Elementary Schools:

  • All meals will be delivered to the classroom. Breakfast snacks will be prepackaged, and students will receive a choice of milk or 100% juice.
  • At lunchtime, students may choose a hot or cold option and a beverage.

Middle Schools:

  • Breakfast snacks and a beverage will be served from a kiosk in the hallway. Students will maintain social distancing during meal service.
  • For lunch, students may choose a hot or cold option and a beverage. Based on the number of students in attendance, meals may be delivered to the classroom or students may go to the cafeteria to pick up their lunch at an assigned time.

High Schools:

  • Breakfast snacks and a beverage will be served from a kiosk in the hallway. Students will maintain social distancing during meal service.
  • For lunch, students may choose a hot or cold option and a beverage. Based on the number of students in attendance, meals may be picked up from a kiosk in the hallway or students may go to the cafeteria to pick up their lunch at an assigned time.

Take-Home Meals:

  • Students receiving in-person instruction at school two days a week as part of the hybrid learning option will be served meals-to-go for the days they are out of school.
  • Students attending school on the Monday/Tuesday schedule will receive three breakfast snacks and three lunches on Tuesday as they leave school.
  • Students attending school on the Thursday/Friday schedule will receive three breakfast snacks and three lunches on Friday as they leave school.

Meal Service for Virtual Learners

Families of students participating in the virtual learning option may pick up meals on Wednesdays at any school.

Five breakfast snacks and five lunches will be provided for each student enrolled in virtual learning.

Student Transportation

Newport News Public Schools will provide bus transportation for students to and from school in each reopening phase in compliance with CDC guidelines.

To ensure social distancing, buses will only be able to transport approximately 20-30 students at a time (one student per seat) and all students and drivers must wear masks. Bus drivers may need to make several trips back and forth to school to carry all students who need bus transportation to and from school on their designated days of attendance.

Drivers will clean and sanitize buses following each route.

NNPS will work with families to ensure that students arrive at school safely and on time.