RICHMOND, Va. (WFXR) — A school-reopening workgroup that was appointed by Dr. James Lane, the Superintendent of Public Instruction, back in February has released updated guidance to assist schools and divisions as they resume or expand in-person instruction and plan for the 2021-22 school year.

The guidance, Navigating Virginia Education in Uncertain Times, provides recommendations and identifies resources and best practices related to equity; curricula, especially in literacy and mathematics; remediation and intervention strategies; assessments; data analysis; student and staff wellness; and technology to support instruction and learning.

In developing this guidance, the Virginia LEARNS (Leading, Engaging, Assessing, Recovering, Nurturing and Succeeding) workgroup — which included educators, school administrators, mental health professionals, parents and leaders of community organizations — analyzed comments from over 800 members of the public. Slightly more than half of those submitting comments were parents and other caregivers, and 44-percent were teachers, principals and other educators.

“This winter, stakeholders representing a variety of perspectives and experiences came together to for the Virginia LEARNS workgroup to map the way forward for the commonwealth’s schools as they continue their journey through these extraordinary times while striving to support the success of every student. I am incredibly grateful for their willingness to serve on the Virginia LEARNS workgroup and for lending their expertise and time to this important initiative.”

Dr. James Lane, Superintendent of Public Instruction

After analyzing data, the workgroup identified the following themes to provide guidance to local decisionmakers:

  • Schools need to reopen with particular attention to vulnerable student populations and their unique needs.
  • While virtual learning may be appropriate for some learners, it is not the best instructional format all learners.
  • The shutdown has had a negative impact on the social-emotional well-being of many students and staff. Schools need to deploy additional staff to meet these needs — e.g., counselors, social workers and psychologists.
  • Remediation and recovery efforts need to be tailored to the unique academic needs of each learner based on current assessments, and provided in a variety of manners — engaging summer programs, alternate school day schedules, in person and virtually.
  • Allocation of resources should be equitable and reflective of core values.
  • Safety protocols must be clearly articulated and implemented with fidelity.
  • Technology hardware, software and internet access must be readily available across each community. Training to effectively use and access technology resources is essential.
  • Additional staff should be employed to keep student-teacher ratios low and to enable targeted, personalized instructional support.
  • Consistent and clear communication is essential.
  • Community partnerships are vital to recovery efforts.

The full report can be found below.