March 27, 2020

Dear NCPS Students & Families:

It is hard to believe that our original two-week closure has turned into a closure for the remainder of the academic year. What we had hoped would be a brief pause in the academic year has turned into a complete shift in the way we approach our children’s care and continuing education during this COVID-19 pandemic. 

Our teachers, staff, and administrators are grateful for your kindness, patience and encouragement as we have worked to keep students fed and engaged in their learning. This past week we served 6,750 meals, to include breakfast and lunch, to our students. Thank you to our School Nutrition team, Transportation team, and all of the volunteers who have assisted with meal prep and delivery!

Our primary focus is to educate NCPS’s children.  All of us have questions about how that education, access, and opportunity will look, and I promise to keep you apprised of our decisions as we keep charting this new territory. Throughout this week, our principals, division leadership team, and teachers have met virtually through Zoom to plan for our Continuity of Education Plan. Below, you will find important information, updates, and reminders that I believe will be helpful to you as we head into next week.

Calendar Changes and Spring Break

Third quarter grades will be due May 1, 2020, in order to give teachers and administrators time to sort through plans related to instruction prior to and during this extended closure.The primary reason for this change is to make sure that we approach instruction during the remainder of the year as thoughtfully as possible and give our teachers, parents, and students time to adjust to any changes.

To that end, we will be shifting next week to a new schedule where teachers will conduct virtual office hours Monday through Thursday from 9-11 AM or 1-3 PM, and students and parents will therefore have access to their teachers virtually and via more traditional communication modes such as email, phone, Remind School Communication App, etc. This will continue for the remainder of the school year. The Spring Break holiday will continue as scheduled.

Continuity of Learning Plan to include Virtual Instruction, Worksheets, and Packets

Our continuity of learning plan will be in effect for the remainder of the school year, so we ask you to stay the course and continue to monitor your child’s school website as you have been over the last two weeks. If you do not have access to our website, then you should contact your child’s principal: 

Dr. Travis Burns, NHS Principal

Mrs. Javornda Ashton, NMS Principal

Mrs. Stephanie Baker, NES Principal

If you do not have computer or email access, then you should call the School Board Office at (804) 529-6134, and we will put you in contact with your principal.

NCPS is committed to upholding federal and state guidance in support of every child’s continued instruction. At the state level, for the purposes of granting credits and promoting children to the next grade level, we have been given clear guidance from VDOE that students must still show mastery of learning standards in each content area. Students must demonstrate, and we must be able to document, that those objectives have been addressed through instruction.

It is so important for you and your children to continue with learning activities, no matter what grade level they are in. That also is why we ask families to reach out if they are having difficulty doing this. Please know our administrators and teachers operate with flexibility and are understanding during this time. We absolutely intend to support our students and families to ensure that students are able to move forward with their education this year and into the next through access, opportunity, and communication.


Grading for Seniors

For all seniors who were on track to graduate, we will average coursework given on or prior to March 13, 2020 to arrive at a final semester or end-of-year grade.  Seniors will be given the opportunity to turn in all outstanding assignments and/or missing assignments to be calculated into their final averages. If a senior desires to improve their current grade in a course, teachers will provide them with an opportunity for additional graded assignments through extended learning opportunities.  However, no senior who chooses to continue to participate in these extended learning opportunities will be penalized for low performing scores on work assigned after March 13, 2020. 

The NES, NMS, and NHS principals will communicate grading practices for all returning students to our families.  If you have any questions regarding grading, please contact your student’s administrator. 

AP, Dual Enrollment, & CBGS

For students 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 that AP teachers have access to. It is our expectation that AP teachers continue to work with their students to prepare them for these exams. Please reach out to your AP teacher if you have questions.

Regarding dual enrollment through Rappahannock Community College (RCC) and Chesapeake Bay Governor’s School (CBGS) students, if students are receiving instruction by a NCPS 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 CBGS who receive instruction from a CBGS instructor will continue to follow guidance from CBGS.

Graduation Requirements

We understand our seniors and their parents have questions regarding graduation requirements. The good news is we will have wide flexibility to make sure that our current seniors graduate, as long as they are in the classes they already need to meet standard or advanced diploma requirements, and were on track to graduate as of March 13. That’s why it’s so important for our seniors to make sure they are working with their teachers during this third quarter to ensure their grades are on track for graduation and that they continue to demonstrate they are learning. Doing so will allow us to grant our seniors the credits needed to graduate. If your child is not on track, we will do everything possible to get them where they need to be so they can graduate with the Class of 2020.

Our seniors might also be wondering about how they fulfill all the other graduation requirements, like the financial literacy, CPR or verified credit requirements, if they haven’t already done so. While this information is still evolving, what I want you to know is that we have been given wide latitude by the state to waive these requirements and those that are required by law are likely to be addressed by the General Assembly shortly. Again, I want all of our seniors to know that we are going to do everything we can do to make sure that they will still receive their diploma. Our high school staff will be working with each student and family to make sure they understand their current status and what they need to do to graduate.

If you have more questions about graduation requirements, please email your child’s school counselor and/or administrator. 

Milestone Events

Some of the major concerns we are hearing about are the milestone moments in our seniors’ lives. Until we understand what guidance we might get on large gatherings from the Commonwealth and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as well as the timeframe for that, we simply cannot commit to anything. I can say it is our intention to do something for graduation that is both memorable and safe. We are looking at options, and as soon as I hear more, we will share that information.

School Building Access

Our school and administrative buildings remain closed to the general public. However, to allow for essential school functions to continue, our custodians, school nutrition staff, transportation, and School Board Office remain open. Parents who need to complete enrollments and withdrawals may do so by virtual appointment. Should you have this need, please email your principal to arrange for this. 

Medications and Treatment Supplies Pickup

A parent (or designated adult verified by note or phone call) may pick up remaining medications and treatment supplies from the School Board Office. A photo ID will be required. Social distancing of six (6) feet will be followed during this process. Please do not bring children or come to the office if you are ill.

School Nutrition

As long as we are able, meals will continue to be offered to all students without charge by school bus. This process may need to transition to a pick up location on Academic Lane, and we will communicate information later should the need arise.

To maintain the safety guidelines recommended by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), all meals are bagged and include both a breakfast and lunch. 

Technology, Internet Access and Password Issues

If students are having difficulty or if you need options for internet connectivity or password assistance, contact the Department of Technology (DoT) by email at between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Please note emails will not be answered during Spring Break.

Enrollment and Pre-K and Kindergarten Registration

If you need to enroll your student for the current and/or next school year, please call our help line at (804) 529-6134 between 10 AM and 2 PM Monday through Thursday, and we will connect you to the right person to help you. Please note this phone number will not be answered during Spring Break.

Resources & Staying Healthy

We continue to add information to our website regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. We encourage your family to follow the CDC guidelines for keeping safe and minimizing the spread of COVID-19. “Social distancing” means staying out of crowded places, avoiding group gatherings, and maintaining a distance of six (6) feet from others whenever possible. 

Again, thank you for your patience and flexibility, and as always, thank you for your support.

Holly Wargo, Superintendent

Northumberland County Public Schools