Important Update from the Superintendent
Posted: March 28, 2020
Dear NNPS Families,
As we transition to what will become our new normal during the closure of schools, Newport News Public Schools will continue to partner with our families to provide at-home learning materials, meals-to-go for students and other helpful resources for our families. We understand how difficult the coming weeks will be on families as you focus on the health and well-being of yourselves and your children. It is our hope that we can continue to provide you with the support and resources necessary in order to meet the academic needs of your children.
The Governor's statewide closure of schools has generated many questions. We are committed to keeping you informed and ensuring that our students continue to experience a high quality of learning for the remainder of the academic school year. Additionally, we will continue to set high expectations for content mastery and student engagement moving forward as we transition to alternative forms of instructional delivery.
Our instructional goals are clear: we want our students to continue to learn, explore and grow during this period of home instruction. We need the support of parents and guardians to ensure that our students remain engaged in learning until the end of the academic school year. It is our expectation that students will be prepared for their next grade, courses and opportunities. To accomplish this, we must all work together and focus on the mastery of information that will be provided over the coming weeks.
This communication is intended to address some of the questions and concerns we have received from parents, students and the community. I encourage you to visit our website for additional information and to review more frequently asked questions. We will continue to provide necessary updates to the FAQs based on the feedback and questions that we receive from you.
Elementary Academic Plan
The second elementary instructional packets for preschool and elementary students have been created for the next 10 instructional days (March 30 - April 17). Students and staff will observe the regularly scheduled week of spring break (April 6 - April 10).
The instructional packets will be posted on the At-Home Learning website, and available at all school sites and food distribution sites on Monday, March 30. Directions for how to submit work and receive feedback for instructional packets will be forthcoming. Teachers and families should continue to reach out to one another using their established lines of communication to support students.
NNPS is working on an instructional plan to ensure that our students stay engaged in learning for the remainder of the school year. In accordance with federal and state guidance, instruction will continue so that students will be able to show mastery of learning standards that were covered prior to March 13 in each content area. While there will be an emphasis on reading, writing and mathematics, students will receive continued learning opportunities and activities in science and social students during the fourth quarter. Additionally, families may access resources for fine arts, physical education, art, gifted education and special education on the At-Home Learning website.
How will my child's grade be determined? (Elementary Students Grades PK-5)
The third quarter grades will conclude as scheduled, April 3, 2020. The calculation of third quarter grades will be based on your student's grade as of March 13, 2020. That said, students also can improve their third quarter grade by completing missing assignments that would have normally been allowed had the quarter continued with schools open. This includes any packet work that has been completed since schools have closed. We are currently creating a method to submit student work at the elementary level, one will be in place by the end of next week. Please communicate directly with your child's teacher(s).
The fourth quarter grading period will begin after spring break. A Continuity of Learning Plan is currently in development which will provide further information on how student work during the fourth quarter will be reviewed and assessed. At the conclusion of the school year, elementary students will be given the option of taking the higher final grade based on their cumulative March 13th grade or a final grade which includes the calculation of work which was collected and reviewed over the fourth quarter. Consequently, all elementary students who were in good standing as of March 13 will progress to the next grade level.
How will schools maintain high expectations for learning during the closure?
Elementary students will be expected to demonstrate mastery of curriculum content which was introduced from the start of the 2019-20 school year to March 13, 2020. For elementary students, the remaining course curriculum, which would have been introduced from March 16, 2020 to the end of the school year, will be incorporated into the start of the 2020-2021 school year. Students who were at risk of being retained will be invited to attend a summer program to address their specific learning needs. Those that are recommended for summer school will be notified on the 3rd quarter report card.
Middle and High School Academic Plan
Based on federal and state guidance, instruction at the middle and high school level will be continued. Clear guidance from the Virginia Department of Education dictates that students must show mastery of learning standards for the full year in each content area. Therefore, NNPS is working on a plan for continuous instruction to ensure that our students are engaged in learning new course curriculum for the remainder of the school year.
How will instruction be provided for middle and high school students?
Middle and high school teachers will continue to provide online learning through Google Classroom and other media tools. Gmail accounts were created for all middle school students this week to improve communication. Please visit Student Support: At-Home Learning to learn how to activate accounts or for additional assistance on how to use the accounts. All high school students who already had Gmail accounts may communicate directly with their teachers via email. To continue with online learning for all students, a limited number of Chromebooks are available for students. Middle and high school students who do not have a computer in the home or internet access, should contact their teacher or principal immediately.
Teachers are planning lessons and using various instructional tools, videos and resources to provide engaging lessons for students. Additionally, teachers are communicating with students and families to provide support and feedback on their learning. Grades will be recorded in StudentVue and ParentVue regularly. Students who do not master learning will be provided opportunities to improve assignments by completing a similar task or assessment. It is the expectation that all students will complete the lessons and assignments to continue their learning and to receive credit for courses for the 2019-2020 academic school year. For additional at-home learning resources, visit our At-Home Learning website.
How will my child's grade be determined? (Secondary Students Grades 6-12)
The third quarter grades will conclude as scheduled, April 3, 2020. For the third quarter, grades will be calculated based on a student's grade as of March 13, 2020. Please know, students can improve their third quarter grade by completing missing assignments and assessments that would have normally been allowed had the quarter continued with schools open. This includes any work that has been completed since schools have closed. Please communicate directly with your child's teacher(s).
The fourth quarter grading period will begin after spring break. A Continuity of Learning Plan is currently in development which will provide further information on how student work during the fourth quarter will be reviewed and assessed. At the conclusion of the school year, students will be given the option of taking the higher final grade based on their cumulative March 13th grade or a final grade which includes the calculation of work which was collected and reviewed over the fourth quarter. Students must show mastery of the standards for the course during the fourth quarter, to include new curriculum content. If they do not complete the work or show mastery, they will receive a grade of incomplete. Should a student receive a final grade of (I) incomplete, they will be provided the opportunity to complete the requirements of the course during the summer. It is the expectation that all students will be prepared to succeed in their next level course for the 2020-2021 school year.
What grading accommodations have been made for senior students?
Seniors who have not completed the necessary work to be successful as of March 13 will be contacted by their teachers and/or school counselor to ensure they are aware of the possibility of not graduating on time. Any seniors who were not on track for graduation on March 13 due to grades will have the opportunity to improve their grades during the fourth quarter. Seniors at risk of not graduating as of March 13 will be contacted by their school counselors to develop a specific plan towards graduation.
For determination of the final grade for the course, all seniors will have the option of accepting their final average on March 13, 2020 or the inclusion of their fourth quarter assignments. This will allow all seniors the opportunity of improving their final grade. All seniors are expected to complete work being assigned by their teachers through the remainder of the school year.
Technology Assistance for Students with NNPS Devices
Support is available for students who are having trouble with their Chromebook or other NNPS-issued device. Click here to complete a Technology Support Request or access virtual learning support. Students may also access assistance at www.nnschools.org/coronavirus.
AP and IB Testing
For students enrolled in Advanced Placement (AP) classes, the College Board has announced that students will be able to take their AP exams online at home and has provided preparation materials for home access for AP teachers and students. AP teachers will continue to work with their students to prepare them for these exams. Please reach out to your AP teacher if you have questions.
International Baccalaureate (IB) has announced that their exams will be canceled. These students should adhere to the guidelines for learning and work completion being shared with all students. IB teachers will be the direct line of communication for further information on IB requirements.
Virtual Virginia and Dual Enrollment
Students who are in a Virtual Virginia online course should follow the directions given by their instructor regarding expectations for work and grading.
Regarding dual enrollment at Thomas Nelson Community College (TNCC), if students are receiving instruction by a NNPS teacher as part of the dual enrollment program, they should adhere to the guidelines for learning and work completion being shared with all students. However, students in dual enrollment programs who receive instruction from a TNCC instructor will continue to have graded assignments that need to be completed on the timeline their TNCC instructors lay out for them, per TNCC requirements.
The State Superintendent has given assurances that seniors who have either completed or are currently enrolled in all needed classes, and who were on track to graduate as of March 13, 2020, will graduate. It is imperative that those seniors who are determined to be in jeopardy of not graduating make every effort to work with their teachers and school counselors for the remainder of the year to ensure their grades are on track for graduation. Doing so will allow NNPS to grant our seniors the credits needed to graduate. We encourage parents or seniors to email their school counselor regarding their eligibility for graduation or other related questions.
What is the status of verified credits, CTE credentials, and other certifications?
The U.S. Department of Education has waived accreditation requirements this year. Consequently, the Virginia Department of Education has approved the cancellation of the administration of the Standards of Learning Assessments (SOLs) for the 2019-2020 school year. While specific graduation requirements such as verified credits (of courses students are currently enrolled in), CTE Credentials, online learning, CPR, W!SE Financial Literacy and the like is still being determined, school divisions have been given the ability to waive these requirements, and those that are required by law are likely to be addressed by the General Assembly soon.
What is the status of commencement ceremonies?
We have heard from many of our seniors and their families. High school graduation is an important milestone and we will do all that we can to ensure that the Class of 2020 is able to participate in this significant occasion. Currently, our high school commencement ceremonies are scheduled for June 4-7, 2020. We have secured the alternate dates of July 9-12, 2020, with the Ferguson Center for the Arts and the Hampton Coliseum should the June dates be deemed unsafe for a community gathering. We have also explored the option of hosting commencement exercises virtually. As always, we will solicit input from our students, schools and community as we finalize any plans.
The Child Nutrition Services Department is providing meals-to-go for any student in need. The meals-to-go include a lunch and a breakfast snack for the next day and are available for pick up at multiple locations throughout the city each weekday from 11:30 a.m. to 1 pm. Two new locations were added this week. Click here for a complete list of our meals-to-go sites.
School Office Hours
Beginning April 15, all schools will have office hours every Wednesday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Parents will be able to pick up medications and other essential items, and register and withdraw their children by appointment only. Parents may request an appointment by visiting the "contact us" link at the top of the school's webpage or by calling the school and leaving a message. A school administrator or office professional will contact the parent to set up an appointment time. Parents are asked to bring a photo ID to their scheduled appointment and should avoid coming to the school if they are ill.
Medications Left at School
Since schools are closed to the general public, we have designated Wednesday, April 1, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. for medication pickup by appointment only. If your child has medication at school, please request an appointment time by visiting the "contact us" link at the top of the school's webpage or by calling the school and leaving a message. Please be sure to include your name, your child's name and a contact number. A school administrator or nurse will return the call to confirm your appointment time.
At your appointment time, a school administrator or school nurse will meet you for a drive thru pick up at your school's main entrance. Please be sure to bring a photo ID to confirm your identify. This opportunity is only available for medication pick up. Details on retrieving other school supplies and personal items will be provided at a later date.
Additional opportunities to pick up student medications will be available during school office hours beginning Wednesday, April 15. Please refer to the School Office Hours section above for more information.
Health and Well-Being
As we adjust to this new lifestyle, I encourage you to ensure the health and well-being of your family and others by following the Centers for Disease Control guidelines: wash your hands frequently, avoid crowds and maintain a safe social distance.
The Peninsula Health District has created a COVID-19 hotline to assist citizens with health-related questions and concerns. Call (757) 594-7069 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week for assistance.
Beyond this support, NNPS has created a Social/Emotional Support area within the COVID Academic Plan website. To assist in supporting students and families with additional mental health needs, contact information for social workers and psychologists is listed on this site as well as several activities individuals or families can do to assist with stress and anxiety. Please contact our professionals for assistance. Throughout the remainder of this virtual school year, this site will continue to be updated. For information, please visit https://bit.ly/2QSQKyT.
Stay Informed, Participate in our Facebook Live Event
I invite you to join me and other members of our leadership team for a special NNPS Coronavirus Response Facebook Live event from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 31. Join us at www.facebook.com/nnschools to hear more about our education plan, and student and family supports. We look forward to hearing from you. Post your questions or comments on our Facebook page during the live event. The session will also air live on NNPS-TV (Cox 47/Verizon 17) and on www.nnpstv.com.
As these circumstances evolve, we will keep you informed through phone calls, emails, www.nnschools.org/coronavirus, and our social media.
As always, we thank you for your patience, understanding and partnership.
George Parker, III, Ph.D.
For timely, accurate information on the coronavirus, please visit:
- Centers for Disease Control COVID-19
- Virginia Dept. of Health (VDH) COVID-19
- VDOE: A Parent Guide for School-Aged Children
- Questions: Call the VDH Hotline, 877-ASK-VDH3 (877-275-8343).