LCSB meeting 3-10-20 / Jones

Loudoun County Public Schools Assistant Superintendent for Pupil Services Asia Jones, right, addresses coronavirus concerns and preventive strategies at the March 10 Loudoun County School Board meeting.

The Loudoun County School Board during its Tuesday meeting voted to direct Loudoun County Public Schools staff to work toward part-time in-person learning for select special-education students on Oct. 13, as well as certain English-learning students and preschoolers by Oct. 27.

For the last several weeks, LCPS Superintendent Eric Williams and other members of senior staff have presented the board with plans to eventually implement a four-stage hybrid learning model, in which students would attend school in person no more than two days a week.

To begin the meeting, Williams and Assistant Superintendent for Pupil Services Asia Jones presented options for which groups of students are to be included in “Stage 1” of the hybrid model.

The presentation focused primarily on students with special needs and highlighted the fact that not all division schools can sufficiently staff their special education programs: Only 19 out of 48 elementary schools, eight of 17 middle schools and four of 17 high schools have enough special education staff who indicated they were willing to teach in a hybrid learning environment.

Per the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 1975, LCPS cannot limit specialized programming to students who attend schools with sufficient staffing.

As such, Jones suggested LCPS would require as many faculty and staff members necessary to accommodate applicable students in “Stage 1” — regardless of whether those employees indicated a preference for 100 percent distance learning earlier this summer — following board recommendation.

Board member Ian Serotkin (Blue Ridge District) followed the presentation with a motion that special-education students of all ages who receive instruction through the Aligned Standards of Learning (ASOL) or self-contained programs, English learners with a proficiency level between 1.0 and 1.9, and district preschoolers be included in “Stage 1.”

Serotkin recalled the meeting last month when the board decided to begin the school year with 100 percent distance learning, during which he “spoke at length about the student groups for whom I had the most serious concerns about the effectiveness and practicality of distance learning,” particularly students in special education programs.

“For students with severe disabilities, we’ve been dancing around the elephant in the room: How effective will it be for them to learn through distance learning?” he said.

Though Serotkin’s motion initially included specific dates in which each student subset would ideally begin hybrid learning, several succeeding motions struck most those dates in favor of a goal to implement all of the listed programs as part of “Stage 1” by Oct. 27, the sole exception being the aforementioned SPED subsets on Oct. 13.

“To me the dates, at this point, are arbitrary because we don’t have enough information,” Chairwoman Brenda Sheridan (Sterling District) said.

With those amendments in place, the board ultimately voted unanimously in favor of the recommended action.

LCPS staffers are expected to present more possible dates for “Stage 1” implementation to the board at its meeting scheduled for Sept. 8, the first day of classes.

Also, in response to information Jones and Williams presented, Serotkin moved that the division implement a program in which employees could request voluntary placement and leave-without-pay status while phase guidance for Virginia schools is in effect.

Following discussion, that motion also passed unanimously.

Most students will begin the year in a 100 percent distance learning model, a move the School Board approved toward the end of last month.

The Academies of Loudoun’s Monroe Advanced Technical Academy, however, will begin with partially in-person instruction to accommodate pupils in its many hands-on courses, LCPS officials announced last week.

________

Correction: This story has been corrected to state that special-education students in ASOL or self-contained programs are scheduled to enter a hybrid model Oct. 13, not Oct. 27.

(46) comments

Countyrez

The School and Board of Supervisors should approve, fund and mandate county wide home health checks by government and LCPS staff. They can visit every household and assess if safe and effective learning environments are available at home for every student. There will be more than enough LCPS staff available to perform such tasks as they will not be in school. If conditions are insufficient based on meaningless metrics those kids will be required to attend school in person. Can’t that be part of the revised exceptions? I just wonder, how many stay at home proponents will keep these assessors out of their home. Surely they wouldn't mind an expert evaluating your personal home life? Home health checks for everyone. After all, LCPS's #1 priority are the children's health AND education, supposedly.

LongtimeLoudouner

Following the science for decision making about schools during a pandemic is not being political. What is being political is purposely ignoring and denying the dangers of this pandemic in order to push a false look of normalcy before the election, and to whitewash this administration’s failure to follow the National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza Implementation Plan to contain the virus, which was written by experts for our leaders to follow and who warned a global pandemic was very likely in the near future.

Believe it or not, there are decision makers who actually care about the safety and lives of those they serve. Who are paying close attention to schools recently opened. Just after one week schools in Indiana, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Georgia had to close their in-person learning after students and staffers tested positive, including several superintendents, sending thousands into quarantine. Obviously this piece meal plan to contain the virus nationally is not working! Until we get a leader who will implement and strictly enforce a national plan, because that is what it’s going to take in a very mobile country like ours, we will continue to get more of the same. The proof is in countries who have successfully done just that.

I applaud Loudoun’s decision to follow the science—a tremendous relief for this mom of a high risk asthmatic son and teacher in Loudoun. And if one thinks following the science is being political, then I suggest they get out of their comfort zone and change the channel.

Virginia SGP

Well, such a long post for one devoid of facts.

1. LCPS has not used any facts in their decision-making. Point to it. There were NO metrics used to shut down in-person learning. Just a "oh we just don't know anything so we'll run around like a chicken with its head cut off whining and giving excuses" approach.

2. In school, kids will virtually never be in "close contact" with each other (defined by the CDC as within 6 feet of each other for 15 minutes or more). Given the CDC doesn't even recommend contact tracing if you were not in close contact, then the schools that shut down did so for no reason. it is a given folks will acquire COVID outside of school. The only relevant issue for operating schools is whether those (who are not aware they currently have it) are coming into close contact. If social distancing procedures preclude that (desks 6 ft apart), there is no cause for concern.

3. You have no stake in this is you planned to keep your kid out of school anyway. Nobody objects to you making that choice. Why in the world are you objecting to rational parents putting their kids INSIDE a school to learn more efficiently? Especially when there are plenty of rational teachers (either currently working for LCPS or who can easily be hired) to teach them?

amerigirl

SGP, why not look at all the school that have opened and now are closing or quarantining? How do kids ride the bus to school and not be closer than the recommended space?

Virginia SGP

If kids did by the window, they are 6 ft apart. And they wear masks. No danger.

The schools closing are being rash. While college kids may be congregating in close quarters (by choice and against guidance), the same is not true for K-12 kids. It doesn't matter if 200 kids test positive, it ONLY matters if they acquires it at school (determines via contact tracing). Kids are unlikely to spread it at school at all. So even if kids test positive for contracting COVID outside of school (they must then quarantine for 2 weeks) that should NOT LEA's to school shutdowns. Unless it is spreading inside schools, there is no concern.

It is like the distracted questions on a standardized test. It doesn't affect the answer. The number of kids acquiring COVID outside school is virtually irrelevant to school operations.

amerigirl

SGP, pretty sure the middle and high school kids are doing their fair share of congregating whenever possible. They are not best at making good decisions. Who makes sure they have quarantined? Do you have any examples of schools where this has worked, maybe a private school?

FCPS educator

Canada and Europe are back in school do they have different science then the US

amerigirl

We must because they are much stricter in their handling of the virus. You didn’t hear their leaders saying it would magically go away. France, Germany, the U.K. and Italy are all making their kids wear masks. They must think it is more serious than we do here. Europe’s cases were declining before they considered opening schools. They had it before we did and the had very strict restrictions on their people, and Europe has had a quick uptick in cases and bracing for a second wave. Canada is planning to reopen. You have to wait to see how that goes. Canada currently has a relatively low number of COVID-19 cases because they were very strict on their regulations unlike the US.

amerigirl

I see that you had comments blocked before they were even reported, If you want to make a statement then you need to stop calling the other people that comment here names. Hope you don't do that with your students.

ace10

Why are the (D)s opposed to school choice?

Is it because they care about your child's education

OR

are they more concerned about what it will do to the teacher's unions?

Virginia SGP

A couple of follow-ups on that. Supposedly LCPS is all about "equity" and supporting the BLM movement. So how might they do that?

1. 70% of blacks support charters/vouchers. If LCPS cared about equity for black students, they would support allowing any kid to obtain a voucher for the $11K+ in local funding (+ $4500+ in state funding) and use it at any school of their choice.

2. One of the approved messages on NBA uniforms is "Education Reform". If LCPS is in touch with the modern progressive push, why don't they support reforming our outdated LCPS system that condones putting horribly ineffective teachers in the classrooms of students?

amerigirl

Teachers in Virginia don't have unions. It is because there is a pandemic, which you completely ignored in you questions. Children can catch the virus and take it home to other relatives who will have a more detrimental outcome than the children. They are spreaders. Ask any parent that has kids in school how many times their child has caught something in school and brought it home. And what makes you think it is dems that are thee only ones opposed to it? Only about 1 in 10 Americans think daycare centers, preschools or K-12 schools should open this fall without restrictions, according to a new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs and roughly 3 in 10 say that teaching kids in classrooms shouldn't happen at all.

. That would include a lot of repubs.

Have you looked at how many schools opened just to turn around and close again?

Virginia SGP

OK, let us pretend that once upon a time, you understood logic. Parents can CHOOSE distance learning. So using the red herring that a kid in school (where parents OPTED for it) is a reason to shut down schools is beyond irrational.

amerigirl

OK, lets pretend that once upon a time you treated people with respect and were a nice guy. Have they or have they not had schools with the same policies shut down?

LongtimeLoudouner

Teachers in Loudoun do have the LEA and VEA to represent them, which I was a member and a school representative when I was teacher. I’m sure they are involved in making sure teachers are protected when schools eventually open again.

boomersooner0706

I do find it a bit amusing that people get on here talking about kids dying if we send them back to school. These people need to actually look at the total number of people under the age of 29 that have actually died in Virginia. As of today, 4 people have dies under the age of 29 out of 2,410 deaths and 0 under the age of 19 (www.vdh.virginia.gov).I guess the same people haven't driven by the mall, the basketball courts or Brambleton center and have seen all the packs of teenagers and kids out there smoking and joking. Let get real folks, this is all politically driven and if Joe Plugs is elected COVID will but nothing but a distant memory by Thanksgiving.

amerigirl

Do you know anyone that has had it? Dying isn't all that matters. There are side effects and sometimes permanent damage.Not all black and white. Wear a mask and be part of the solution

DarkHelmet 1983

I agree completely, boomersooner0706.

amerigirl

So who is talking about kids dying? Just the people that want to claim that a low death rate is a good enough reason to have kids go to school. You know they will bring it home if they catch it.

amerigirl

Who has talked about t kids dying if we send them back to school? They have mainly talked about kids spreading the virus if they take it home. That would just keep the virus going on for much longer time while endangering their parents and other relatives that might be living in their home. What is the Joe Plugs reference? How do you think an election is going to influence the virus? Surely you know that it exists and you have seen the stats?

doverboy

Sorry, this sounds like a warm up for an opera, "ME ME ME ME" and the concerns about who gets to go sound like closet racism, "Not Them, Not Them, Not Those"

amerigirl

LOL

Well Water Person

Why does this smell like "separate but equal"?

KK153

“Human beings are born with different capacities. If they are free, they are not equal. And if they are equal, they are not free.”

― Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

BladerFool

Our problem's source is COVID-19, not the LCSB. To get kids back in school, we need to be as smart as China (or Korea or NZ) and beat this virus. Kids in school while the USA loses to a pandemic is a bad idea.

NachoFries

Special-education students, English-learning students and preschoolers? How about my child? I pay taxes for my kids’ education and I have to teach them at home? And work? Why can’t my child go part-time. The special interest groups seem to be the only ones that matter or exist anymore in the minds of the School Board and Superintendent. What a shame that the kids that are in the middle (the majority of school age kids) are the ones being neglected and left behind today. I am going to save as much money as possible…no more donations to charity, supporting local restaurants, volunteering….so I can send my kids and grand kids to private school. Private School will be the choice for education of our children if things continue like they are now.

amerigirl

Is your child not capable of learning from home? You will pay those same taxes whether you have kids or not.

Pablo

Go right ahead and send them to a private school for in-person learning. COVID doesn't really care where people cluster together, as long as they're close enough to spread it to one another - and then to their parents, grandparents, teachers, bus drivers, or anyone else that they meet up with while they're infectious.

Goldstar

This is all so disappointing, Oct 27th for phase 1? Just a few weeks ago they were planning on having the option for everyone. Anyone hoping to have your kids in school even part-time this year should take this as a big dose of reality. I am very worried about the mental health of these students, particularly the high school age ones.

heyyousleaze

I can't wait for September 8th, when 80k students who are distance learning try to access the internet at the same time 160k parents working from home try to do the same. Has the LCSB, or anyone else for that matter, stopped to consider the possibility that the internet will be overloaded? What is their plan if that happens? If they can't come up with solutions to these questions, then what are they being paid for?

amerigirl

Then why don't you email them? The internet overloaded? I believe lots of schools were already doing this in the spring. I hope you don't think that the board is going through these comments incase you ask a question.

Barry Hussein

What a worthless, incompetent group. It's the blind leading the blind. We are six months into this mess, and they are still clueless on how to move forward. Virtual education guaranteed to be a disaster again with no leadership at the top with many teachers simply mailing it in, not to mention the teacher assistants, PE/Arts/etc. teachers, bus drivers and others doing nothing and getting paid. Let me know when teachers realize their paycheck is at their place of work like the rest of us, then I will wake my kids up for school

beanrulez

if you dont like it leave the country!

Virginia SGP

Bean, or we can fire the Supt, school board, and lazy, irrationally paranoid teachers.

I'm sure you would tell that to black students in the 1960s South when they couldn't get into a school, right? So why are you telling them the same thing in Loudoun in 2020?

More Cowbell

That date will be pushed back into 2021. Nobody holds this School Board, Superintendent, or his 50 chiefs accountable. They were AWOL last year, did nothing to get ready this year. Kids will be distant learning all school year, don't understand why they haven't come out and told everyone? Or is the media afraid to report that news?

Loudoun4Trump

just a pack of democrats blocking an honest education to kids.....kind of like they did back in Alabama in the 60s....let me know when schools are open so they can ride those 100 brand new buses that are collecting dust? Government mismanagement at its finest....

RoundHillGuy

I'm sure once the election is over all of this will no longer be an issue.

LeesburgD

Well stated, RoundHillGuy.

beanrulez

take your own parties advice, if you dont like it leave the country! You have that choice.

amerigirl

Really, there are a lot of republicans that won't send their kids to school. The virus doesn't work that way, even without medical training I know that. Look at Leesburg agree with you on something so very false.. Wait and see

beanrulez

why dont you and everyone else who wants schools open and does not care about covid send all your children to one house and take turns teaching. Im sure you will have no problems with a dozen children in your home that could potentially spread a deadly virus. Its like you all want more LCPS teachers dead. We had enough of them die last year.

Loudoun4Trump

Because I am paying taxes each year to have my kids educated....give me the money back and I will place them in a private school that are open.....thats why einstein....

LetSanityPrevail

L4T it might even be too late to place them. From what I have heard private schools and parochial schools are inundated with applications and don't have the capacity to handle the demands they are getting.

amerigirl

No ou pay taxes every year for education regardless of if you have kids or not. Distance learning is still learning

Countyrez

I would be happy to, as soon as LCPS gives me the $15,000 per student they spend.

How many children are people like you willing to kill due to abuse, drugs, alcohol and suicide. Those issues are on the rise, and are irrefutable. And since believing "experts" is the mantra, the experts all agree on that issue, unlike other experts that say kids must return to school.

amerigirl

They owe you nothing. You pay taxes for education even if you never have children. Let them keep an eye on the situation and open as soon as it is safe. They have actually done surveys on "how many" and there is little to no change. So what experts are you talking about?

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