State Superintendent issues guidance for school openings in the fall

June 11, 2020
Seal of Virginia

RICHMOND, Va.- Superintendent of Public Instruction James Lane issued guidance Wednesday to assist Virginia’s 132 school divisions as they implement the phased approach to reopening schools announced Tuesday by Gov. Ralph Northam.

The guidance document, “Recover, Redesign, Restart 2020,” includes recommendations to protect the health and well-being of students, and respond to the impact of COVID-19 on learning, during each of the three phases of the governor’s reopening plan.

“The commonwealth’s public schools face the unprecedented challenge of restarting operations and formal instruction after a mid-year shutdown and responding to the toll the necessary closure has taken on learning and on the social and emotional health of students and staff,” Lane said. “The governor — in consultation with public health authorities — has outlined a plan for reopening schools. ‘Recover, Redesign, Restart 2020’ provides detailed guidance and considerations for school divisions as they implement the governor’s plan and address inequities in our schools that have been either caused, exacerbated or revealed by the closure.”

The recommendations in the guidance document address challenges school divisions will face as they move toward resuming formal instruction and reopening schools, which have been closed to students and teachers since March 16. “Recover, Redesign, Restart 2020” includes best practices and strategies in the following areas:

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  • School operations, including COVID-19 mitigation strategies; health screenings for students and staff; and social distancing policies;
  • Supports for students and staff, including assessing and addressing the social, emotional and mental health needs of all learners;
  • Instruction, including equitable supports for all students; digital learning; and assessing and meeting the instructional needs of all students, including students with disabilities and English learners; and
  • Communication with parents and families, including resources accessible to all families on health, instruction, social distancing and local reopening plans.

“Recover, Redesign, Restart 2020” also includes sample alternative schedules for the gradual return to in-person instruction for students as schools progress through the three phases of the governor’s reopening plan. Under the sample scenarios, groups of students attend classes in their school buildings on alternating days or weeks, allowing schools to adhere to social distancing requirements and capacity limits — for both buildings and school buses — during each phase.

“Our goal was to provide recommendations and reopening scenarios that reflect the diverse needs and circumstances of our rural, suburban and urban school divisions,” Lane said. “The guidance in ‘Recover, Redesign, Restart 2020’ is also flexible because we can’t predict with absolute certainty how the threat of the coronavirus will evolve over the summer and early fall.”


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