Williams COVID-19 video address

Loudoun County Public Schools Superintendent Eric Williams discusses COVID-19 and the division's strategies to combat its spread in a video message.

At the Loudoun County School Board's virtual Tuesday meeting, Loudoun County Public Schools Superintendent Eric Williams presented updates on the division's plans for multiple scenarios next school year with regard to the ongoing COVID-19 health crisis.

Williams first introduced the three contingency plans at the board's April 21 meeting. Scenario 1 involves reopening schools in the fall with 100 percent in-person learning and no significant social distancing or public health mitigation strategies. Scenario 2 would have schools reopen with a combination of in-person and distance learning, while Scenario 3 would extend full-time distance learning.

"It's important to remind members of the community that our decisions are going to be condition-based, not time-based," Williams said. "We've said it before, but it's important to emphasize that the decisions will be based on the consideration of predefined metrics articulated by state officials and public health authorities."

Per Williams' presentation, the Virginia Department of Health has yet to provide official guidance on recommended health risk mitigation strategies for K-12 schools next year. Williams added physical distancing guidelines may require LCPS to limit the occupancy level of each school building to a specific percentage of that building's capacity.

Until VDH identifies such an appropriate percentage, LCPS plans to develop Scenario 2 prototypes based on 25- and 50-percent occupancy. Williams said division staff would assess any prototypes for safety and viability before implementing them.

However, as the commonwealth has not provided information connecting Gov. Ralph Northam's (D) Forward Virginia Blueprint to K-12 learning, Williams said it is difficult for staff to know what specific boundaries to set when combining in-person and distance learning.

As long as Loudoun County remains in a phase of Forward Virginia that prohibits in-person learning altogether, LCPS would have to rely on Scenario 3. Should this be the case, staff would revise its approach to distance learning based on successes and challenges that came about during the current semester's school closure.

"We're asking, how can we build on the strengths of current distance learning if we need to implement this scenario, and ... what opportunities for improving distance learning exist?" Williams said.

Though distance learning would ideally only be implemented for a portion of next academic year — if at all — LCPS hopes to develop distance learning options for students whose families do not want them engaging in any in-person learning for the entire 2020-2021 school year.

"Even if we're able to move forward, for example, with Scenario 2 ... recognizing that some parents might not want that option in spite of the mitigation strategies we would put into place, it's our plan to develop the capacity to offer 100 percent distance learning to parents," Williams said.

The superintendent reminded the board that each scenario, at this point, is intended as a roadmap rather than a detailed how-to manual. He called the prototype responses to each scenario "incomplete and imperfect," but assured listeners that they will "generate additional, iterative planning" as they develop further.

"We're not spending too much time about all the details, but we're creating broad brushstrokes to give a good picture, and we're building with the user in mind," he added.

Prototype development is divided into three "sprints," the first of which was conducted April 28 to May 8 and involved staff learning about the needs and expectations of various stakeholders for scenario development. Sprint 2, which began May 11 and will conclude Friday, involves work groups comprising members of LCPS senior staff, principals, parent representatives, students and other stakeholders.

"Our desired outcomes are four prototypes that are almost good enough to share with a much wider group of stakeholders," Williams said. He added these prototypes will include two for Scenario 2 and two for Scenario 3, and will focus on four key components: wellness, deeper learning, culture, and operations and systems.

Sprint 3 is scheduled for May 26 to June 12 and will engage teachers and other school-level staff in the first iteration of multiple school-level prototypes. Focus groups comprising multiple stakeholders will begin June 1 with the goals of obtaining feedback on prototypes and providing directional clarity within the community.

LCPS staff has proposed the School Board conduct a work session June 16 focusing exclusively on prototypes, during which the board would review focus group feedback, ask staff questions and offer input.

Tuesday's Loudoun County School Board meeting is available to view in full at vimeo.com/420333980.

(39) comments

Voice of reason

Why can't scenario 1 include significant social distancing or public health mitigation strategies? Why can't there be COMPROMISE, think outside the box to make it work. Herd immunity is not even an option!!!!

mamabear

I would like more details on how they are going to enhance distance learning / Google meetings for the younger ages?

Why do I feel like their discussions/scenarios only benefit those families that can stay home with their kids and work with them during Google sessions?

What happend to those parents who are essential to the work force and can't stay home, will we be forced to be on the back burner?

Is there an option where we the parents can schedule a one on one with the student and teacher in the evening, etc. while the esstial working parent is home with their kids?

mamabear

I would like more information and details on how they are going to establish video sessions with our younger grades. Not all parents can stay home and help their kids with their school work online, unless they think those parents that are essential to the workforce will simply take a back seat...Why do I feel like most of these decisions/scenarios only apply to parents that can stay home with their families and work with their kids one and one. Wish I had some part of that.

Can google meetings [with teachers] be scheduled in the evening...when a essential working parent is home with their child?

mopar19

The teachers should all be at school teaching from their classrooms. Video conferencing while the students are at home. Plenty of social distancing one teacher per class room. The students have already gotten their free chrome books. Our tax dollars have given them guaranteed raises and paid for those chrome books. Meanwhile other places are freezing pay, contract negotiating, and step increases.

amerigirl

Wouldn't you think being in a closed off classroom might have the same effect they are experiencing in nursing homes? Even if the kids don't get a bad case they will be spreading it and taking it home.

mopar19

Ag do you read the posts before you comment on every single one. The post clearly states the teachers report to the schools and the students stay home.

amerigirl

Sorry misread your comment. Still all the teachers in a closed building? Not sure that is a good idea either.

DavisB

it would be great for teachers to have video set ups in their rooms - that would help not only if schools are closed but for students who are absent when they are open.

Are you advocating for the funding to do this?

mover

Guaranteed raises...huh?? There was a freeze on ALL LCPS staff this year and teaching virtual was a long, grueling nightmare. Would much rather have been in school. As far as LCPS pay it is a falsehood out there that LCPS teachers are so well pain. I make around $13,000 less than my brother in Manassas City at the same place on the payscale and $20,000 less than my sister in law in Prince William. I do like the idea of virtual teaching from school but that is a huge waste of electric, power, and is really no different than doing it from home. Along with getting paid more later in the scale in Prince William they have a matching retirement that is a huge perk.

WesternSky

Distance learning is a joke -- and isn't doing much of anything for the kids. If you cannot open the schools -- find new leadership who can.

BobOhneiserEsq

OK. You can't earn a king's ransom and then after multiple decades of school system management refuse to deal with details such as class size if only 50% of kids show up which would include the termination of many teachers you have a responsibility to issue contracts to next month! To commit to a teacher or not to commit to a teacher is a DEATIL you can't ignore and needs to be done NOW.

Second, What online program? What are the costs and how do you plan on managing students who have nobody home to supervise them under that plan? Is this really an option which you apparently think would not require you to lay off almost the entire staff? Are there really online programs for special education students and first graders? Isn't that a lot to expect for a 5 year old to do or is there an army of itinerant workers you will hire when there is a demand for details?

You have had months to consider options yet nothing of substance can be detailed!

Sorry but as a former school board member that is totally unacceptable for a half million executive to claim is a reasonable plan for school board consideration. :-)

More Cowbell

No reason why kids shouldn't go back to school next school year, however with this AWOL group form school board, BOS, GOV and superintendent, number 3 is probably the choice. Scenario 2 would be too complicated for this group to try and figure out with only 3-4 months to prepare. I am a bit curious if so much is shutdown, how come they're not furloughed/laid off so they can collect unemployment and save Loudoun taxpayers? And 6-8 weeks of stay at home, social distancing, wearing masks... and we're still pretty much where we were back in March. A lot of unknowns. Should have closed everything down for 1-2 weeks back in March. Poor leadership from Gov to locall BOS. So out of touch.

RandomName2019

Right. Any attempt to shut things down in March would have been met with the same outcry that we've seen this entire time. As a whole, Americans are not good at looking at the larger picture and making decisions for the good of everyone; it's just part of our culture to be individualistic. Also, furloughing everyone just shifts the burden to the state, which is funded by us. Either way, taxpayers foot the bill.

More Cowbell

But if local/state/teachers and others laid off/furloughed, then we'd have a bigger voice. As long as some get paid for doing little to nothing, they're ok with that. To me, it's stealing tax money. I'm working everyday. My pay didn't double. 80 year old Nancy P hasn't included me for getting any Hero pay. Being shut down 1 week vs this 8-10 week of fake shutdown would have quarantined most that had it and not allowed them to pass it on.

amerigirl

Do you think that if the kids in school get the virus they aren't going to take it home? Sounds like you have no experience with how the schools prepare and accomplish teaching. I don't either so I'm not going to pretend that I can say what they should or should not do.

More Cowbell

Then we do away with all schools and classes are done online. Developers can build more houses where all schools are located. Look at all the money we just saved. many kids will struggle, especially if they have no family/parent support. Nothing about how to teach kids. It's about having a plan/process in place. Something LCPS lack. No more activities with schools, everything is done with a travel team or outside of school.

Loudoun4Trump

Should really only be one option - open the schools or furlough LCPS employees until it is safe to go back outside again and go to school....

amerigirl

Do you have kids? I bet you would think of other options.

Thebroof

Millions wasted on WMATA, Loudoun supervisors refuse to take a pay cut, democrats love burning that tax revenue.

RandomName2019

The entire Metro debscle was a Republican led effort. The pay raises were passed on a majority-Republican board. Spending has not increased substantially under this board since all current expenses were approved under the last board... So, maybe try some critical thinking that doesn't boil down to a silly red vs blue argument.

amerigirl

[offtopic]

applicant45554

This not going to work. Shut the schools down and give parents vouchers.

Virginia SGP

You are fortunate that their teachers kept teaching. Nobody would voluntarily choose LCPS if given a voucher. Most teachers were told not to provide live instruction for more than 30 min per week so they abdicate their jobs and care for their own children. We need in-person full day school in the fall. If wee have distance learning, we need only retain teachers who will teach. Best of all, give parents and students vouchers and let them choose.

DavisB

again you are so wrong - maybe you could pause for a moment and consider what other parents are dealing with right now. So many families are not in a position for our students to sit in front of their computers for 7 1/2 hours a day as you apparently can. This is about us, not you or your beef with the schools.

Livloudoun

You are so out of touch. One of the reasons I moved to Loudoun was the schools. You have plenty of choices. If you are this unhappy with the school system then you should consider moving. From what I understand there are some fine districts surrounding Loudoun. Good luck to you.

DBC

CDC numbers of deaths by age group nationally as of 5/16/20: 5 - 14 years old = 0.01%. 15 - 24 years old = 0.11%. If LCPS relying on "data" and "science" why are schools closed?

LoCoTransplant

DCB...last time I checked, it wasn't just students who attended schools. What about all the teachers, administrators, support staff, cafeteria workers, janitors, etc. who all work in the schools as well? I'm pretty sure they all don't fit into the 24 and under age groups. Many school workers are easily members of the older, higher risk, age groups. Remember, LCPS had a teacher unfortunately die from the virus in March.

Consider that although the data you shared is showing students aren't at high risk of dying, doesn't mean they won't contract it. They could also still carry the virus, be non-symptomatic/asymptomatic and increase the spread among others who work at the schools or their families at home.

It's not just about the safety of the students, but everyone.

DBC

In 10 European countries plus Canada with a total population of 340 million, there are 26 deaths in people under 19. If we are told its all about "science and data" why are kids out of school?

RockinLoCo

In Loudoun no one in this age group has died and only one was hospitalized. Only one person under the age of 60 has died, and only 3 between 60 and 70. This appears to cover the age group of all students and 99.9% of all LCPS employees. So why are my kids still at home and why is the county still shut-down?

amerigirl

What???

Have you heard about of Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children or MIS-C. The condition is associated with exposure to the new coronavirus? They are investigating 3 deaths in NYC alone from it. Maryland has 4 cases, 1 death. Children’s National Hospital in DC has treated 23 children. So far Virginia has been lucky with only 1 case. Other states have reported it also, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Utah and Washington. Look it up so you can appreciate how devastating it is.

firefly

Amerigirl please stop trying to spread fear. Yes I'm sure we have all heard about the very rare Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome that is occurring in children. However, not a lot is understood about it. Some of the children tested for it have shown up negative for Covid-19 so right now medical professionals don't have a great deal of information about it. As a parent of a child who had Kawasaki I would say relax. My child was treated for it, responded to treatment and in the end it was far less scary than scarlet fever which one of my children also had. Please stop trying to scare people. Have you seen the new data that shows it's very hard to catch covid from touching surfaces? Open Virginia and send our children back to school. This virus has become a political circus and it needs to end.

amerigirl

Firefly, If you want say that stating facts causes fear, sorry. That is the problem, with Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome, we don’t know. But we are willing to chance it on our kids? After all it says right on the CDC site we know that many children with MIS-C had the virus that causes COVID-19. Wouldn’t any parent feel safer about sending their kids to school when they have better answers? Sorry your child got it but not all children are gong to be as luck as your child. They didn’t say it was very hard to catch it from surfaces, they said it wasn’t as easily transmitted that way as they thought it was. Don’t make this political.

amerigirl

Rockin, So far we have been lucky, guess the lockdowns worked

RockinLoCo

AG: If anyone is high-risk, afraid, paranoid, or just wants to stay home, then stay home. For the rest of us who need to work, want our kids back in school, and want herd immunity to take hold, there is no reason not to. Again, if you want to stay home, then stay home, order everything online, and sanitize everything before it comes in your house. If you want to live that way, that's your choice. As far as the stay-at-home working, you can only state a correlation, not a causality. I did a rain dance last night and it rained today. See, my rain dance worked! BTW ... troll away all you want, I will not reply further.

amerigirl

Rockin, go ahead and don’t reply because I doubt you could come up with a good answer anyway. You make everything simplistic when it’s not. People who are vulnerable can NOT just stay home even if you make it sound easy. They still need groceries. They still need to have illnesses treated. How would you suggest that someone with cancer have chemo or target therapy? How does one with Kidney failure get dialysis? Or people with other conditions get what they need to stay alive? How do people care for family members that don’t live with them? Life isn’t that simple. Do you realize how many people in the US would need to get coronavirus to cause herd immunity? 70% of the population would have to be infected to achieve that if at all possible, that’s over 200 million people. According to Johns Hopkins: Even in hotspots like New York City that have been hit hardest by the pandemic, initial studies suggest that perhaps 15-21% of people have been exposed so far. In getting to that level of exposure, more than 17,500 of the 8.4 million people in New York City (about 1 in every 500 New Yorkers) have died, with the overall death rate in the city suggesting deaths may be undercounted and mortality may be even higher. That would be mass murder to suggest herd immunity as a cure. Also, that as the virus mutate s it can become stronger or weaker? So what, do you thin the herd again?

firefly

amerigirl taking chances with our children is part of life. Have you seen the number of pedophiles in LCPS? You take chances when you get out of bed, you take a chance walking out your door etc. We don't know about this new inflammatory condition, but we do know that some of the kids diagnosed with it tested negative for covid-19 and it's antibodies. We also know it's very rare. Facts can be used to cause fear or to help calm them. After all the CDC says that approximately 40% of covid-19 cases are not symptomatic. Of those cases that are symptomatic the death rate for those 50 and under is .05%. Which means the real death rate is even lower if you factor in those asymptomatic cases. I'm not making this political. The people spreading fear and trying to control other people by keeping them locked inside their homes and destroying the economy are making it political.

amerigirl

Fire, excuse me, taking chances with our children???? Some law enforcement would call that child endangerment. It is your duty to protect your children, you are responsible for them. Please don’t shrug off that responsibility because they count on you. If you are aware of pedophiles do you keep your children away from them? The only kids with the disease that didn’t have coronavirus had been exposed to it. Ignoring because it is rare is just ignorance of facts. Even if 40% are not symptomatic, they can still spread it to others, and take it home to their families. It is people that act like because the coronavirus mainly kills older people that it is not their problem that continue the spread.

guest26

Is the county surveying parents' preferences? Some might be apprehensive to send their kids back, but others might be quite eager to.

eagleeye2020

I am thankful that two of my child's AP teachers continued with their teaching and reviewing for the AP Exams.

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