Assistant Superintendent Ashley Ellis

Assistant Superintendent Ashley Ellis presents at a School Board budget work session in 2019.

Loudoun County Public Schools Assistant Superintendent for Instruction Ashley Ellis presented updated information regarding the district's distance learning measures, including grading and assessment tactics, during Tuesday's Loudoun County School Board meeting, which took place online via Cisco WebEx.

Teachers began distance learning efforts Monday by providing students with learning opportunities covering previously learned content. These efforts will continue through Friday, which marks the beginning of spring break, which will still take place as scheduled through April 12.

Instructors can provide optional learning opportunities to be completed over break and remain in virtual contact with students. Material available for review of previously covered material is also available at lcps.org/continuityofeducation. Any optional learning opportunities distributed by teachers over break will not be graded.

Instruction beginning April 15

LCPS teachers will use April 13 and 14 as professional development and planning days to help them prepare to start implementing new content into distance learning experiences on April 15.

Teachers for grades third through twelfth will continue to provide these opportunities synchronously and asynchronously, while kindergarten through second-grade teachers will be able to provide offline learning opportunities through ParentVue or other means of communication with families. Packets of English and math material will also be mailed to K-2 families every two weeks beginning April 15.

Guidelines for student work time beginning April 15 are the same as those set before spring break. Kindergarten to second-grade students are expected to do up to 60 minutes of work daily; students grades third through fifth should do up to 90 minutes; and students grades sixth through twelfth should spend up to 30 minutes per class, up to three or four cumulative hours a day. Efforts of those enrolled in AP or dual-enrollment courses are to align with course expectations.

Specific guidelines for teachers of all grades regarding communications with students, including office hours, will be developed prior to April 15. As of Tuesday, the last scheduled day of distance learning is June 10, though that date is under review and pending input from the board.

Assessment and grading practices

LCPS considers March 11 — the last day of school prior to the closure period — the end of the third quarter. Grades and report cards for the quarter will therefore be based on student activity through that date.

According to Ellis, third-quarter report cards for elementary schoolers will be based on student progress through March 11, while grades for middle and high schoolers will be determined based on completed work. Middle and high school teachers are to provide students opportunities to make up missing work until April 17 and will finish reporting third-quarter grades by April 24. Ellis said no assignment or assessment after March 11 should negatively affect a student's third-quarter grade.

While teachers will use the gradebook to provide feedback and track student progress, no grades for the fourth quarter will be reported in the Student Information System for students at any grade level. Teachers may still assign numeric values for assignments in the gradebook to track student progress.

The decision to not assign grades to work completed during the closure aligns with recommendations from the Virginia Department of Education, which has said grading decisions are ultimately left to the jurisdiction of local divisions. Equity and access for all students are the main concerns leading to the VDOE's recommendations.

A student's final grade for each course will be determined by one of three processes, whichever results in the most favorable number grade. These include: averaging the grades from the first three quarters; averaging the first semester and third-quarter grades; or administering a first semester grade in addition to a pass or fail for the third quarter and the final grade, in which case GPA would be calculated using the first semester grade. The first option will be used for all elementary school students, who do not receive first semester grades.

After the resulting grades are shared with students and families, they will be given the option for either the numeric grade or a pass/fail assessment. If a student's final grade is detrimental to his or her GPA and their parent or guardian provides no input, the grade will be pass or fail. The date by which families are to select a final grade option has yet to be determined.

Graduation and grade-level promotion

At the end of her presentation, Ellis said questions regarding graduation and other milestone activities still remain. However, in a March 24 release, Virginia Superintendent of Public Instruction James Lane announced his plans to ensure all high school seniors who were on track to receive diplomas this spring will do so despite school closures.

"[Governor Ralph Northam] and I agree that every student who was on a trajectory toward earning a diploma should be able to graduate on time and move on to the next stage of his or her life," Lane said in a prepared statement. "I hope the flexibility that I am announcing today will help students and teachers as they cope with the deep disappointment of having their time together unexpectedly cut short and of not being able to enjoy the recognitions and celebrations that should be a part of every student's graduation experience."

According to official VDOE guidance, students should receive standard credit for courses in which they are currently enrolled "if they were successfully completing the course as of March 13." The department also recommends that students who were not passing a class at the time of the closure should have the opportunity to "demonstrate competency" so that they might receive a credit for graduation, though school divisions can require new instruction for these students.

For high school students enrolled in credit-bearing courses who plan to graduate in 2021 or later, divisions "must award standard credit ... by ensuring that students have completed a majority of required standards, competencies, and objectives," according to the VDOE. The department also provided options for providing necessary instruction to students grades Pre-K through eighth, whom divisions "must ensure ... are equitably prepared for success in subsequent courses" while not preventing them from being promoted to the next grade.

More detailed information on VDOE recommendations for graduation and grade-level promotion requirements is available at doe.virginia.gov/support/health_medical/office/covid-19-grad-credits.shtml.

Additional student support

According to LCPS documents, the school system may not be able to provide all services to students with disabilities "in the same manner they were typically provided in the traditional school setting," due to the unprecedented nature of the school closure period. The Office for Special Education remains in contact with the VDOE and the U.S. Department of Education to understand expectations for how special education programs should be run amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Online and offline resources for students with disabilities are available on the LCPS Continuity of Education webpage. School case managers will collaborate with teachers to provide assistance for students with a Section 504 plan, which provides accommodations to students with disabilities. Families can contact their student's case manager or school counselor with questions.

Limits and hindrances due to school closure may also affect the division's provisions for English-learning students, a matter on which LCPS continues to seek guidance from the state and federal education departments. The division's Office of English Learners has also added instructional resources for these students to the Continuity of Education site. Those enrolled in Sheltered EL Courses will receive assignments and instructions directly from teachers.

A document further detailing Loudoun County Public Schools' education continuity plans is available at go.boarddocs.com/vsba/loudoun/Board.nsf/files/BN8NT2614558/$file/Continuity%20of%20Education%20Plan_033120.pdf.

Tuesday's School Board meeting is available to view in full at vimeo.com/402298676, with questions from the board for Ellis beginning around the 2-hour, 4-minute mark.

(52) comments

Loudounlistener

I find it humorous that other counties, like Fairfax even states, such as WV, go figure, have implemented Video conferencing, live teaching sessions and active school schedules daily. While Loudoun is assigning "review material" for the past 6 weeks. Not sure where the blockage is, but Loudoun are always very concerned about litigation and indemnity. Somebody should be fired definitely. My kds and I are at home scratching their collective heads on what they are to do day to day to keep learning. It's Loudoun's JOB to educate my kids.

amerigirl

I really wonder if most of the people that are complaining about their teachers have even checked the LCPS site. If they had they would know the plan. The teachers will provide students with online learning resources covering previously taught material starting March 30. On April 15, new content will be introduced to the distance learning instructional model. If you did not receive previous materials then you should contact them. The other date isn't here yet.

LOCO Concerned Resident

As a LOCO high school teacher, I can tell you that my peers and I have wanted to work but have been told not to call our students and not to work with them synchronously. We were given specific instructions to not give new material, but only to review. We have been told we can’t ZOOM with our kids. In fact, it would be accurate to say that we have been told NOT to do things far more than we have been told TO DO things. We are frustrated. We don’t understand the reasoning, and no one is bothering to explain it to us. It appears that our school administrators are not involved in the decision-making either. As a resident of this county I am beyond upset with the people ay the Admin Building on Hay Street. They are not asking anyone’s opinion (teachers, principals, parents or students), but feel more than comfortable making decisions that adversely effect our student population. Other districts are continuing education, why not Loudoun? This is NOT a Republican/Democrat issue— in my humble opinion, this is an issue with the people at the top of LCPS schools. It all falls at the feet of our Superintendent. He needs to be fired. His leadership is failing us. We need someone with courage to lead us in a time of crisis. He has no courage. Don’t blame the teachers, blame the people who tell us what to do.

applicant45554

My child’s teacher just sent a note saying she was going to take spring break to relax from virtual teaching. In reality there has been next to none. This is outrageously unfair for everyone paying taxes or sending children to school in this county and especially everyone who’s not getting a paycheck because they’re not working.

amerigirl

Do you realize that Loudoun County's spring break is April 6-10. Please don't tell me that just because they are teachers they don't get their vacation. You said that they had already been doing virtual teaching, I would say that means that they are working. Maybe you should sent a note back to the teacher and ask how they plan to move forward.

Reality

There has been no virtual teaching at briar woods for 11th grade. All we have seen is a couple teachers post review work and now some guidance regarding the end of 3rd quarter teaching and grading. Nothing and we have asked directly and have not received an answer for what the 4th quarter will look like. Amerigirl - do u have kids currently in LCPS?

LoudounWatchdog

THe teachers and staff have been 'on break' now since Dr. Williams closed the schools in mid March. How much more of a break do they need? Doesn't educating our kids take priority ? Students are only doing review the last week or so. Or, is this a teachers union effort to get their members paid to teach summer school? What's your respose to that?

Reality

Wait a minute, earlier you posted that the teacher were like first responders. Now you support them taking vacation while in the middle of a pandemic.

Loudounlistener

I worked every day through the beginning of the COVID lockdown at my job as I am "essential". You can't tell me LCPS teachers worked every workday for the past 2 months of lockdown and worked 8 hours every day from home? You can't honestly say they needed another week-long break? Be real.

pual mase

Democrats will keep spending more and more of your money to buy votes and keep themselves in power.

They will keep spending until they run out of your money to spend.

amerigirl

Prove it. The only one playing politics right now is trump. Look at how many more supplies red states got over blue states. Some red states got more than they asked for. He has no empathy and only thinks of himself and family

Loudounlistener

Somebody please tell me the election calendar and strategy for removing this bozo Eric Williams from office. Seriously...

Eric Williams is the superintendent of Loudoun County Public Schools. Williams was appointed superintendent in July 2014.

Reality

Good to see everyone is finally seeing what I have been complaining about and asked LoudounTimes to report on 2 weeks ago. Fire them all!!! Our taxes - Our Decision - We Need to rise up and get this fixed.

amerigirl

Did you vote? that was your decision. You voted for who you felt could best make decisions for the people of Loudoun. The people spoke when these people were elected and they are trying to do a good job but this is a totally different situation than what they or any of us imagined when they ran. There are guidelines that are put in place by the federal government ad they have to work with that too.

pual mase

Wow.

What a bunch of weak excuses for our Dem-led government.

They’re trying “to do a good job”...........lets give them a participation trophy before throwing them out.

There “are guidelines put in place by the federal government”......really?........how feeble to blame the Feds for Loudoun Board of Supervisor’s ineptness.

Democrats can’t manage their way out of a paper bag.

Yes we got what the people got what they voted for.

Now we know better.

amerigirl

WOW is right, would you prefer they try to do a bad job? Your sarcasm is belied. When you have situation like this that has not happened before are there supposed to be a plan to follow or do you try to do something about it?

You really don’t understand how government works. HHS puts out the guideline and is responsible for coordinating health programs in the country. There are three tiers of health departments, the federal level, state level and local level. In relation with state and local government, the federal government provides states with funding to ensure that states are able to retain current programs and are able to implement new programs.

How feeble is the mind that doesn’t know this but criticizes the one that says something about it? Who do you think the BOS should listen to during a pandemic other than the health people? What is the reason that trump has health leaders Dr, Brix, U.S. SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE FOR GLOBAL HEALTH DIPLOMACY, and Dr. Fauci, Director of NIAID and has advised six Presidents at his briefings?

Most people understand this and that is why they voted in people who go by the advise that real professionals give them.

matt_20148

How about you walk a mile in their shoes? Your comment is selfish and quite ignorant. I know many teachers within Loudoun County and all of the ones I know have been working all day, most every day, to ensure they have planned ahead and can support whatever the kids may need when they are allowed to teach. Yep, I said allowed. You need to get your facts straight before you make assumptions and cast blame. The teachers have been told to NOT do anything except provide items for review until the administration can figure out to make distance learning equitable and accessible for ALL kids, not just yours. There are kids within the county who do not have access to internet (yes, that's true) and, up until Loudoun County issued them, some kids did not have a computer to use. Then you factor in which kids might have parents at home helping them..."get a better grade" (cheating, not helping them study) vs those who do not, how can teachers accurately grade within those parameters?

I know there are many teachers who have read some of these ridiculous comments and I can assure you, they are hurt by them. Unless you have either been a teacher, or are married to one, you have NO idea how much of their lives they dedicate to their students. From working 8-10 hours at the school to then coming home and grading papers at night, giving up family time and working over the weekend, they do ALOT they don’t get credit for. How dare you make assumptions the one time you are asked to fill their role, albeit in a much LESSER capacity. You mention “rising up” so I have an idea for you: how about you “rise up” and reach out to a teacher or school and ask if/how you can help. You see a problem and all you want to do is be a “keyboard warrior” and complain on here. Instead, how about you try to be part of a solution instead of just venting? Either way, unless your comments are supporting of those rare individuals who agree to give up many things we take for granted, how about you keep them to yourself. I don’t think anyone benefits from tearing others down….especially during these times.

Oh, and before anyone says “they knew what they were signing up for when they chose this profession”…that is 100% true. I can assure every teacher, at least the good ones, knew exactly what they were getting into and, even more amazingly, they agreed happily. They knew they’d give up many things and miss many more with their own families to be there for your kids. These are situations none of us are used to as a “norm” and it will take time to adjust but through all the uncertainty there is one constant…these teachers love the kids they teach and are doing everything they can, and are allowed to do, to support them.

Reality

My problem is not so much with the teachers - there are plenty of great and horrible ones. I have reached out and as you stated they are not communicating back to us as directed. My problem is with the leadership and lack of communication (clear communication) to us. Up until this weekend has the message just started to come out and not from the top in clear manner. If you listen to the superintendent on the video he posted - you can clearly see where even he states that the teachers are reaching out and then you read these threads and see where they are not. Again and directed at the leadership. They have poorly communicated their plans and intentions. Yesterday, I received an email from one of my son's teacher who explained his intentions as directed for 3rd quarter. I replied and asked about 4th quarter - he replied and said don't know - referred me to the counselor. Same counselor who should have two or three emails from me asking from 3 weeks ago what the plans will be. One communicates - the other does not. Guilty by association for the ones who have and apologies if they feel attacked here. Back to the leadership - read these threads - your screwing up and need to come out and tell us in simple manner what the plans are. If you don't know it just tell us.

LCPSparent&teacher

Thank you matt_20148! Take care of yourself and your family.

celhardt

I know this is frustrating for everyone involved. :-( If it helps anyone out, I'm a former teacher living in Fairfax County who is offering tutoring online at a reduced rate through the end of the school year. I'm hoping to help out parents and pay my bills at the same time. :-) I'm offering small group classes for K-3rd covering Virginia 4th quarter math and language arts standards. Live video tutoring is something new to me as I've been doing for several years. I'm happy to answer any questions anyone might have. www.thelearningninjas.com

Reality

In one way I wanna say thanks and in another way no - LCPS should pay u to do what they cannot.

More Cowbell

So the chrome books were given out a few weeks ago so the kids could play on them. And why is it taking so long to figure out how to distance teaching? and what incentive does the kids have since they all know they're moving on to next grade/graduation? We have a lot of LCPS chiefs that get paid very well but seems they've been AWOL past few weeks.

amerigirl

Play with them? If that's what it takes to learn to operate them then yes they should. Where do you think the LCPS chiefs have been? Who do you think is working on getting the chrome books, and meals out, or preparing the lessons? Not to mention that they have 10 confirmed cases of the virus. Maybe look and see what they are doing before saying they are AWOL.

Reality

Stop - you obviously are not affected nor do you understand. LCPS is not a snowflake, it is a taxpayer's bill

More Cowbell

Learning should have been first priority, not meals. Our schools are for learning. And most of those cases came from those working on meals. I doubt teachers could prepare lessons until Thos AWOL chiefs decided how/what teachers should do. LCPS shutdown way earlier than most others. It's easy to see why nothing gets done or takes so long if it's taking them over a month.

amerigirl

Cowbell, how can you say that some kids should go hungry so other kids can get get their lessons faster? That is cruel. Do you think that they are not capable of doing both? There was little time,between the counties closing schools,not way earlier, and those that stayed open got an earful from parents. Like Fairfax which now has a much bigger infection rate.

More Cowbell

There are many restaurants offering free meals because all the food they purchased will go bad. Real leadership would have had the restaurants deal with feeding the kids and let the LCPS Chiefs figure out how to teach kids during this time. You give too many excuses for these Chiefs making $150K+.

amerigirl

Cowbell, don’t you think that if restaurants had purchased food that the school system had also done the same thing? It is not up to private businesses to take care of the government’s responsibilities. Restaurants are selling as much as they can to stay afloat with curbside service and delivery. Do you think the county can just walk in and take over a business? I think your republican friends would disagree with that one.

heyyousleaze

How can LCPS provide FAPE to students with IEPs when they are not providing any services at all? What are the case managers, therapists, and counselors getting paid for, then??

Virginia SGP

LCPS administrators and board members believe that schools exist for 1 reason: to provide highly paid jobs to adults. It is why they voted to give 8%+ raises next year while 10Ks are getting laid off in LoCo.

The rest of us know that schools ONLY exist to effectively educate students. Given LCPS couldn't care less about this, it is past time to change their management.

amerigirl

Highly paid? Gotta disagree with you there.

amerigirl

Read under the section 'Additional student support' ,if that doesn't help yo may want to call them.

LoudounBornandRaised92

School mental health professional here. Have literally been working every single day from home since they shut down the schools. Unfortunately, it's virtually impossible to ethically provide mental health services. We are not certified in tele-mental health. On top of that, we cannot guarantee things like confidentiality (which is ethically and legally mandated). I have roommates; there are generally more than one person in the house on the other end right now. Those things just aren't possible. It's different from a private practice standpoint, and different when adults are working with adults.

We can (and are) providing consultation to families. I have spent the last two weeks gathering resources building resource websites, getting things organized, attending IEP meetings virtually, attending virtual staff meetings. So we're not just sitting here on our thumbs. Believe me, it kills me that I had to just end everything with the services I was providing to students with not ability to terminate.

amerigirl

Thank you!

BobOhneiserEsq

How about expanding the inquiry based learning experience which has been proven to be so successful at the Academy of Science to all high school students via online courses? Doesn't the IT Dept of LCPS know how to put together a Q & A system for student participants similar to a "TED" talk followed by discussion? The world needs scientists and we have a system that works. Let's expand critical knowledge for our students not just be distracted by grading SOL based, Virginia centric data much of which has little to do with life after high school. :-)

Fiscalconservative

Why are we not grading, how can you measure achievement of student? Since the administration is getting lazy, they should have their salary reduced and we the taxpayers should be given a refund.

CindyLou

Agreed, again, the government, county, city and state sits home on full pay with insurance while kids get no schooling and essential employees are keeping the country running. The taxes in this country are the highest in the nation....every tax payer should get a refund on property, real estate and business.

amerigirl

They are not sitting home, what gave you that idea? They have still got to plan their lessons and come up with a plan that meets the needs of the entire county. Like the LCPS March 31 Continuity of Education Plan, and Distance Learning Plan for COVID-19 School Closure. They also have to get meals to kids that would not have food. That alone took planning and mapping. Please don;t say they are doing nothing, think of them as first responders for the kids.

applicant45554

Agree CindyLou. I have kids in LOCO schools and their teachers are doing nothing

amerigirl

How much should they reduce it? Should it match the number of school workers that have contracted the virus by percentage?

amerigirl

Lazy? They have their hand pretty full right now, this is a big change. You could call and see if there is anything you could do to help. If you don't think that they are doing twice the work to get everything in place you aren't paying attention. Just like us they also have people getting the virus. 10 LCPS employee to test positive so far and others that are sick.

Reality

Amerigirl, here is your chance to save yourself here. List out the activities and or things that have been done and implemented to further educate our children.

Loudounlistener

"As a LOCO high school teacher, I can tell you that my peers and I have wanted to work but have been told not to call our students and not to work with them synchronously. We were given specific instructions to not give new material, but only to review. We have been told we can’t ZOOM with our kids. In fact, it would be accurate to say that we have been told NOT to do things far more than we have been told TO DO things. We are frustrated. We don’t understand the reasoning, and no one is bothering to explain it to us. It appears that our school administrators are not involved in the decision-making either. As a resident of this county I am beyond upset with the people ay the Admin Building on Hay Street. They are not asking anyone’s opinion (teachers, principals, parents or students), but feel more than comfortable making decisions that adversely effect our student population. Other districts are continuing education, why not Loudoun? This is NOT a Republican/Democrat issue— in my humble opinion, this is an issue with the people at the top of LCPS schools. It all falls at the feet of our Superintendent. He needs to be fired. His leadership is failing us. We need someone with courage to lead us in a time of crisis. He has no courage. Don’t blame the teachers, blame the people who tell us what to do."

Reality

100% agree!!!!

Reality

Loudounlistener- thank you. I have asked WTOP and Loudountimes to consider writing an article from our perspective as parents and have nothing in response. Oh wait, one guy at loudountimes said he agreed and was gonna push it to his team. I suspect the media doesn't want to write this - probably political pressure.

amerigirl

Reality, why don't you just write a letter to the editor instead of expecting others to know how you feel?

Virginia SGP

Why is the LCPS administration so unable to coordinate communications? They devised a grading policy which elicited numerous questions. But rather than have an FAQ page to answer these questions to all at the same time, you have random school board members providing answers from staff through the comments of their Facebook page.

To make matters worse, staff has just had over 3 weeks of "planning" days (they weren't teaching). But yet LCPS still plans to give 5 bon-bon days (April 6-10) and then, without realizing the apparent irony, giving teachers 2 additional "planning days" before instruction starts (because they haven't been "planning" for the last 3 weeks?).

These feckless admins and school board members really do believe schools exist to employ adults as opposed to the real reason for schools - to effectively educate students.

DavisB

learning has continued across the county. Teachers are engaging with their students. Students are taking advantage of the many opportunities to continue their courses. More is coming.

HotWheels

I concur...there is no mention of either how IEPs will work, or how ECSE is going to be handled. The situation is unprecedented, but they seem to be overlooking ECSE completely. If new material is going to be instructed, isn't the county legally obligated to follow federal standards and comply with IEP protocol?

DavisB

ask you kid's teachers instead of posting questions here -

Jaws

Anything in particular to kids with an IEP and how the school will handle those children with distant learning?

LoudounBornandRaised92

My understanding (I don't work in the office of special education) is that they are working to determine what IEP services and accommodations they can implement via distance learning and what services they can't.

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