Williams Press Conference - 3/12/20

Superintendent Eric Williams

Loudoun County Public Schools will remain closed through at least April 10 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Superintendent Eric Williams announced in a written statement Monday evening.

"We are focused on developing the plans and acquiring the resources required to maintain the continuity of education for all LCPS students," Williams wrote. His announcement comes hours after Loudoun County declared a local emergency in response to the spread of coronavirus, for which five Loudoun residents have so far tested positive.

Schools are scheduled to reopen April 13 though, per Williams, "this seems unlikely based on the information known at this time." He added the division is preparing for a possible extended closure for six to 12 weeks from now, if not longer.

"We appreciate that this possibility will have significant additional impacts on the students, staff and families who are part of our community, and we are working diligently to address those issues," Williams wrote, closely echoing his words to the public last week.

During the closure, LCPS will provide optional, Internet-based learning programs consistent with students' set curriculum. Williams said this program aims to "[reinforce] skills and knowledge that have been previously taught," adding they will not be graded. Students can access these optional resources at lcps.org/continuityofeducation.

To accommodate future distance learning initiatives, Williams said the school system has — "with extensive support from the Loudoun County School Board" — ordered 15,000 additional Chromebook laptops for students grades 3 through 12.

LCPS hopes each student in those grades who does not yet have a device would receive one, and that these students will have the opportunity to pick one up at their designated schools "as early as the week of March 23." The superintendent said social distancing measures would be taken for this pickup process.

Loudoun County School Nutrition Services will continue to provide its free meal service to students Monday through Friday during the closure. This service includes breakfasts and lunches served both at schools and via school buses to more than 200 locations around the county.

Several resources exist for community members who have questions regarding the pandemic. LCPS launched a COVID-19 telephone hotline at 1 p.m. Monday, which can be reached at 571-252-6499. Families can also visit the division's "COVID-19 Preparedness" webpage at lcps.org/COVID19.

Finally, Williams encouraged the LCPS community to refrain from spreading rumors regarding the health status of classmates, staff or other community members. He added nobody connected to LCPS has yet tested presumptive positive.

"We deeply care about the well-being of all students and staff, and the anxiety that rumors can create pertaining to an already challenging situation is not helpful," Williams wrote.

This is the third LCPS closure-related announcement since last week: Williams said early March 12 schools would be closed through March 20, before Gov. Ralph Northam (D) the next day ordered all K-12 schools in the commonwealth closed through March 27.

(9) comments

JimDunning

Diamond Princess

BobOhneiserEsq

Davis B. I know you don't like my input but if you would actually read it you might see that my point is directly in line with what the NIH and CDC is actually saying. This human to human virus WILL continue so school boards need to solve the problems of safe schooling not hide and hope. The solutions can come from studying the problems not merely hoping they will go away. Are you OK with our schools being closed for the next year as well? Do you really think that in a few months there will be nobody on earth who is transmitting this virus? :-)

qwerty

l

qwerty

I've read all your comments and still can't make sense of what your point is. What are you specifically suggesting be done?

More Cowbell

But what if they don't have internet access?

BobOhneiserEsq

It is about $7.8 million per school day which does not include the billions in school construction to be spent plus paying interest on debt from prior school projects. Education delayed is education denied! :-)

westernloudounguy

You're losing me Bob. I'm not really sure what you're trying to say. I think you're criticizing the schools for not being open. You are aware that there are entire states in this country that are close to issuing state wide shelter in place orders and restricting people to their homes. The schools closing is the least of our worries right now. It was and is the responsible thing to do, not to mention the Governor ordered it for the next two weeks. I fully expect that , as much as he's trying not to do it, the governor will have no choice but to close all non essential business by the end of this week. Maybe try and do something helpful during this trying time instead of trying to create more problems. Those of us trying to deal with this disaster don't have the time for your BS.

DavisB

Bob, be part of the solution, not the problem #nocomplaininguntilthisisover

BobOhneiserEsq

Delaying the opening and proper management of the school system doesn't solve the problem unless insuring the $7.8 million it costs to run LCPS gets spent is the ultimate goal. What is the expected ratio of teachers to students if the online scenario continues? The LEA would say less students per teacher and they all should make over $100k/year but perhaps it is the opposite. Perhaps students will learn online and instead of a Virginia centric SOL's they will be given general education tests to see if they are progressing in the major course areas. I hope the assumption isn't that this person to person, transferable virus will just disappear but that school systems will have to manage better for health assurance reasons. Are we assuming all students will get the "to be available" vaccine next year knowing the current multi-valent flu vaccines are barely 45% effective and children die from the flu? The awareness that all the viruses mentioned on the news are still floating around the human population is the reality that must be dealt with by educating our children not showing them how to hide while still accepting salaries from the public trough! :-)

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