Admin

Superintendent Letter

Good evening, VBCPS families-
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A week ago, at this time, I presented you with a plan for the upcoming school year. I’m the first to admit it is a lot to take in. But that’s because it is ambitious, comprehensive and unique to Virginia in that it provides a science-based pathway for deciding not just how we open schools for to face-to-face instruction, but when we can do it safely for students and staff.

Over the following days, we received hundreds of questions and comments via phone and email, over social media and through the questions you submitted for our community information session. Our School Board members also received hundreds of calls and emails.

I love this kind of engagement. I welcome any and all voices to be heard when we are considering the very future of our youngest citizens. And all week, I heard the frustration, I heard the fear, and I heard the concern about how this virus has destroyed any semblance of normalcy in our lives. I was reminded of the struggles and superpower efforts our families when we closed schools in the Spring and how they did it with grace and creativity. I also heard the praise for our teachers, our custodians, and our food services staff, all of whom kept our students learning during the early throes of a global health pandemic. Above all the politics, above all the emotion and all the interpretations of studies and data, I heard the voice of a community unanimous in the belief that our children belong in the classroom with teachers.

Tuesday, our School Board convened to consider my proposed plan that strives to make that happen as safely as possible, based on health metrics. We formally presented the plan, and after seven hours of public comment and discourse, including dozens of speakers and guidance from physicians on our medical advisory panel, I am pleased to say that the Fall 2020 Plan was approved by our School Board in the wee hours of Wednesday morning.

Therefore, we now know we will begin the 2020-21 academic year in a virtual environment for all students and use daily health metrics to determine when to begin face-to-face instruction. If you’ve not had an opportunity, I would encourage you to review the plan as soon as possible, and take a look at our FAQs, which are being updated daily.

The next step is to ask each family to choose between two options for learning in the Fall:

Option 1: families may choose for their child(ren) to attend face-to-face instruction once our health metrics tell us it is safer to do so.

Option 2: families may choose for their child(ren) to have only virtual learning through our Virtual Learning Center for at least the first semester.

We are now ready for parents and guardians to make that choice by completing the Fall 2020 Registration Verification process for every child enrolled in the division, as well as to register for bus service as needed. Please follow the instructions here to complete the process within your ParentVue account and make your selection for each of your children. We cannot create student schedules and teacher assignments for the new school year without this information, so please complete the Registration Verification process online by Aug. 12. If you need any assistance in registering for a ParentVue account, which will also give you access to your child’s grades, assignments and much more, please contact the VBCPS Technology Customer Service Center at (757) 263-1111.

One overarching theme in questions and comments from our entire VBCPS community was the issue of child care. Now that we’ve got the plan for starting school in motion, we are actively working on a component that will provide or assist with access to child care for both our staff and families. More information on that will come very soon from a task force assigned to make that happen.

Of course, there are still many, many questions about logistics and support, and we’re pursuing answers. There will be more community and staff forums like the ones we conducted earlier this week, and we’ll keep you updated on when those opportunities will be. This is a good time to make sure your contact information is up-to-date with your child’s school. This means email addresses, phone numbers and more. And, if you are having issues with not receiving the voice, email or text messages we are sending out through AlertNow, please email AlertNowInfo@vbschools.com.

My thanks to our School Board members for the thoughtful and productive conversations that got us here. Thank you to my senior staff and their teams for putting together a vanguard plan for getting our students back in classrooms as soon as safely possible. Thank you to the teachers for their passion and dedication to their students. Thank you for supporting and believing in this amazing community.

Our work has just begun. But if this past week is any indication, we are poised and prepared to protect, nurture and educate the children of Virginia Beach.

Please take care of yourself and your family.

Aaron Spence, Ed.D.
Superintendent