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Fairfax Schools To Start Distance Learning Plan On April 14

Patch logo Patch 3/26/2020 Emily Leayman
a person using a laptop computer: Fairfax County Public Schools is slated to begin distance learning instruction on April 14. © Shutterstock Fairfax County Public Schools is slated to begin distance learning instruction on April 14.

FAIRFAX COUNTY, VA — Fairfax County Public Schools is planning to begin distance learning for all students on April 14 after Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam ordered schools to close for the rest of the academic year. The first two weeks of the FCPS closure have featured optional online learning activities for students. Before the distance learning can kick off, the school district will need to address technology accessibility, special education accommodations and other factors.

"Launching a distance learning plan to reach 189,000 students that engages nearly 16,000 classroom teachers is a complex challenge," said Superintendent Scott Brabrand in a message to families. "We acknowledge that distance learning cannot reasonably replace daily in-person instructional programs, and we will not be trying to replicate the regular school day."

The distance learning begins after the scheduled spring break (Monday, April 6 to Friday, April 10). Plans will differ on the elementary, middle and high schools levels.

High school students will have teacher-led, teacher-supported, and independent learning in all courses. Teachers will contact students starting the week of March 30 to provide review materials for concepts taught before the closure and to prepare for distance learning classes on April 14.

Middle school students will have teacher-led, teacher-supported and independent learning starting on April 14. Schools will begin distributing learning packets the week of March 30 for core classes: language arts, math, science and social studies.

Elementary school students will have teacher-led and independent learning as well as opportunity for teacher check-ins, virtual chats, phone calls and emails. Learning packets are being sent by mail to Pre-K to sixth grade students beginning the week of March 30.

FCPS expects many accommodations for students with disabilities can be provided online, such as extensions of time for assignments, modifications to assignments and videos with captioning or embedded sign language interpreting. In addition to instructional packets mailed to students, the Office of Special Education Instruction will provide supplemental learning packets for students with disabilities based on their curriculum.

The FCPS Office of ESOL Services is also preparing accessible resources for English language learners. Students will participate in grade-level instruction and activities as well as English Language Development activities with support from ESOL teachers and parent liaisons.

Before the distance learning kicks off on April 14, FCPS will have to address, the technology needs for students, laptop distribution for around 15,000 elementary and middle school students, teacher training, learning needs of all students, and mailing of 125,000 learning packets weekly.

The school district has created a page with more details on the distance learning plan.

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