Message from the Superintendent: Return to Learn Postponement
Posted: October 13, 2020 (en español)
Since March of this year, we have been faced with many important decisions related to our mission of providing a quality education for children while protecting the safety of all involved. With your support, we successfully started our school year with virtual instruction, and we are improving every day.
While we have made positive gains in the area of online instruction, we are equally committed to supporting the unique needs of those students who are better served in a traditional school setting. Please know that we are diligently working towards that day when your child will return to in-person classes.
On October 6, 2020, the Newport News School Board approved a phased timeline to return some students to in-person instruction beginning with students who would benefit the most: special needs, Level 1 English Language Learners and early childhood students. Additionally, the School Board granted me the authority to revise the timeline as needed to ensure that we would be able to safely and effectively transition to in-person instruction.
Today, with the support of our School Board and division leadership, I made the important decision to suspend the implementation timeline for the transition to a hybrid, in-person instructional schedule, and extend our planning phase to the end of the first quarter.
While we are postponing our return to in-person instruction, a key component of our planning involves your completion of the Parent Intent Form. Based on my decision today, this information will be used solely for future planning purposes that will aid in our decision making. Teacher and student schedules will not be impacted with your submission of the form. By providing this information, my staff will be better positioned to communicate the necessary details associated with any opportunities for in-person instruction this school year. You may access and complete the Parent Intent Form in ParentVUE.
It is my expectation, that in collaboration with you, we will complete the necessary planning during the month of November. Once that has been completed, we will post the full plan on our division website and request further input from the community prior to presenting the plan to the School Board for consideration. We are committed to taking the necessary time to plan and communicate effectively with our stakeholders moving forward.
Why am I delaying the implementation?
Planning for an in-person, hybrid student schedule began in August with the collection of parent and staff intent forms and surveys. In September, we prioritized the immediate needs associated with a virtual start to the school year with future planning for in-person instruction. While progress has been made thus far, our most recent input from key stakeholders has led to a decision that we simply need more time to plan for the safe arrival of students.
While this message may come as a relief to many of you, I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the encouragement that we have also received from families who have supported our work thus far in the hopes of an eventual return to school. Your voices have also been heard and it is my hope that we will move forward when we are prepared, and it is safe to do so.
Our conversations with many of you have been extremely helpful. Your perspectives are not only thought provoking, but as you can see with my decision today, well received and heard. As Superintendent, I set high expectations for the success of our schools and division and your voices have been clear that we need time to develop a comprehensive plan that addresses the concerns of our parents and staff.
Additional communication will be provided this week to the parents of self-contained special education students and Level 1 English Language Learners.
Thank you for your continued support as we work through these important decisions.
Today and always, we remain NNPS Proud!
George Parker, III, Ph.D.