Virginia Beach City Public Schools sets return date for special education students, status of athletics

Posted at 6:49 PM, Nov 24, 2020

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - Virginia Beach City Public Schools provided another update Tuesday on how the division is continuing to navigate the school year during the pandemic.

Last week, the school district addressed where the health metrics need to be before students who have opted for in-person instruction can return to the classroom.

In this week's update, school officials say once health metrics get back to where they need to be, it is no longer necessary to wait 14 days to reopen schools after they have been closed. The district will communicate with both staff and families once they are ready for students who have opted for in-person instruction can return to the classroom.

Additionally, designated students who have disabilities will return for in-person instruction on Tuesday, December 1.

The Virginia Beach Middle School League (VBMSL) also decided to cancel Season 1 VBMSL interscholastic activities, including basketball and Academic Challenge. All winter junior varsity athletics have also been canceled.

All schools and administrative offices will operate on an adjusted dismissal on Wednesday, Nov. 25, and will be closed Thursday and Friday, Nov. 26-27. For the early dismissal day, meal pickup service will be from 9-11:30 a.m., and there will be no food service on days that schools are closed.

You can read the full email VBCPS sent to families below:

Monitoring trends over seven days

VBCPS continues our focus on providing a flexible, dynamic educational environment for all students that will not only engage them, but also protect them and their teachers by shifting from virtual to in-person and back quickly. This is the reality of a COVID-19 world and families should expect these pivots through at least the remainder of the 2020-21 school year.

As it has from the beginning of the COVID crisis in March, VBCPS monitors health metrics and consults with local public health officials to interpret and assist in confirming trends. Over the past months, the understanding of how the virus spreads in the community has evolved. Health professionals can usually determine a trend one way or the other within seven days.

Having brought students back into the buildings in September, VBCPS now has the logistical experience and resources to shift from virtual to in-person swiftly. Transportation and staffing are prepared. Safety mitigations are in place and practiced. The buildings are ready to accept staff and students at any time.

For those reasons, it is no longer necessary to wait 14 days to open schools following a closure. Seven days is sufficient time to confirm the data trend and communicate with staff and families about preparing for and returning to in-person instruction.

How we’ll decide when to return to in-person learning

As explained last week, if buildings have been closed due to metrics being in the red zone, VBCPS will monitor and wait for the trend for the Eastern Virginia Region to turn back to yellow/yellow. At that time, we will confirm the trend with local public health officials and plan to return all Option 1 students to class after seven days. However, if within those seven days the health metrics trend to any combination that includes red, we will maintain all virtual instruction and start the seven-day countdown again from whenever those metrics return to yellow/yellow.

Resuming in-person instruction for Special Education

We will bring back designated students with disabilities to school Tuesday, Dec. 1. As explained in our Fall 2020 Plan, consideration may be given to allow designated groups to begin in-person instruction when the health metrics for the Eastern Region are in a combination of the red and yellow zones for percent positivity and cases by date. These students have intensive support needs and receive more than half of their services in the special education setting. Students in this group receive support with no more than 10 students and at least two staff members in a classroom, which assists in following the appropriate health mitigation strategies. Appropriate PPE will be provided for teachers and staff, and all cleaning and other hygiene measures will be followed.

If at any time, the health metrics are red for both percent positivity and cases by date reported, all in-person instruction for Special Education will go virtual until the trend turns back to yellow for one or the other metric.

VBCPS athletics update

After consulting with division leadership and health staff, the Virginia Beach Middle School League (VBMSL) has made the difficult decision to cancel Season 1 VBMSL interscholastic activities, including basketball and Academic Challenge. It has also been decided to cancel all winter junior varsity athletics. The Beach District’s Principals Association (BDPA) will hold a varsity winter sports season in accordance with the protocols and health mitigations published by the Virginia High School League (VHSL) in its 2020-2021 Guidelines for Return to Participation plan, which was vetted by the Virginia Department of Health and details expectations and recommendations for each individual sport.

In addition to the guidance from the VHSL, VBCPS will make changes to our traditional sports program to minimize the chances of COVID-19 spread:

  • Varsity team sizes in each winter sport will be limited and consistent throughout our high schools.
  • Spectators will not be permitted to attend contests due to the governor’s recent restriction on the size of gatherings. However, all games held in high school gymnasiums will be available to watch via internet livestream. Students, parents, staff, and community members may purchase a monthly or annual subscription to gain access to the games.

Should COVID-19 adversely impact the plan as described, it may result in a cancellation of contests or the winter high school varsity season.

Password reset and recovery in ClassLink

Monday, Nov. 30, all middle and high school students will be required to set up password recovery and reset when they first log in to ClassLink. This is a fast and easy process that is done right in the ClassLink LaunchPad. Students are encouraged to do this before Nov. 30. Once set up, we ask that students change their passwords immediately to keep them secure. Instructions can be found here.

Child care

If you are in need of child care, please visit our Child Care Resources page for information and a map of existing facilities.

For those who are using the Safe Learning Centers, please understand that if at any time, the health metrics are red for both percent positivity and cases by date reported, these facilities will close until the trend turns back to yellow for one or the other metric.

Parent Connection: Resilience During Uncertain Times

For the December Parent Connection Wellness Series, we’ll be focusing on your child’s social/emotional development and how you can help them cope with stress, especially during the holidays. We’ll explore what children need at different ages and stages, and how you can give them the gift of resilience. Guests include CHKD Parent Educator Michele Tryon, CCLS, who is a certified child life specialist, a nationally recognized trainer and consultant for Nurturing Parenting Programs, and co-author of Mindfulness and Movement for Children, and The Nurturing Program for Parents and Their Children with Special Needs and Health Challenges.

Please join us Dec. 2 at 6 p.m. Register in advance for this webinar here. You will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

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We encourage you to use the following guidelines as a part of our efforts to #VBSafeTogether: please wear face coverings, please wash hands often, please keep things clean, and please keep your distance when possible. While the current health trends may put a damper on holiday plans, adhering to these simple strategies, along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations regarding travel and gatherings, will help turn those numbers back to green and make 2021 a better year for everyone.

Click here for more Safely at School coverage.