Despite challenges, DCPS adapting education to reach students in more ways

By: Contributed Report | Twitter: @DinwiddieMonitr
Posted: May 22, 2020 | 1:30 p.m.

DINWIDDIE – Dinwiddie Public Schools has continued to work on the continuity of learning despite the changes the division faces with ordered closures.

Since the end of March, Gov. Ralph Northam ruled schools would have to close for the rest of the year, and since that time local educators have been adjusting plans to meet the learning needs of students while continuing to add new and innovative ways to learn on line and through conference calls, computer videos and more.

Assistant Superintendent Dr. Royal A. Gurley, Jr. gave a presentation on the district’s plan during last week’s regular school board meeting. Just the process of the meetings have changed. While maintaining transparency, the elected officials meetings are held online and by tuning in via telephone where interested individuals can hear or watch the meeting live.

During this presentation, the assistant superintendent addressed several key issues from on-time graduation to pre-kindergarten registration.

“It is the expectation of Dinwiddie County Public Schools that students have the opportunities to make academic progress and to continue to learn and develop during the closure for COVID-19. March 13, 2020 was the effective last day of school due to Governor Northam’s subsequent order to close schools for the remainder of the year,” Gurley explained. “Since the closure, students have been provided access to DCPS instructional materials via virtual learning or paper packets.”

He outlined the grading and reporting procedures for students in grade PK-12 and graduation requirements for current seniors.

According to the presentation, the Virginia Department of Education is providing flexibility through state waivers that would allow all students who are on track to graduate with the Class of 2020 to graduate on time, despite the closure of school.  

“School counselors are already reviewing transcripts and course histories to apply the state waivers and create clear paths toward graduation for each student who is currently on track,” Gurley noted.

Kindergarten Pre-Registration, as of May 11, include:

Dinwiddie Elementary – 33

Midway Elementary – 38 

Southside Elementary – 63 

Sunnyside Elementary – 23 

Sutherland Elementary – 48. 

Gurley said that plans will be released in the upcoming week to inform parents about the county-wide registration process. The plan will outline how to collect registration forms while safely following the guidance from the Governor and Department of Health. 

The division is working to secure drop boxes for security and safety reasons.

Christie Clarke, Director of School & Community Relations, is in the process of purchasing secure drop boxes that are much like a UPS or FedEx box. It will be gray with the school division’s logo. This box will provide families and parents a secure place to drop-off sensitive documents required by the school. 

However, the team will have to determine if the pre-registered students meet the eligibility criteria for the Virginia Preschool Initiative program. 

As for summer school, GradPoint will be an option for students needing to retake a course at the high school level. In grades K-8, targeted assistance will be provided to students following the guidance from the Governor and the Department of Health. The team will use multiple data points to identify the students. The team may continue to follow the current continuity of learning plan to facilitate learning over the summer. 

In planning for the upcoming year, Dinwiddie County Public Schools will be partnering with the Virginia Department of Education to access Virtual Virginia at no cost to the school division. 

“By using Virtual Virginia we will have access to a robust learning management system, Canvas,” school officials said. “Canvas will allow our teachers to customize content to meet the learning needs of the students. Teachers will be able to use the content in a face-to-face setting or solely online. The product will be able to fully integrate with the school’s student information system.”

Dinwiddie participated in the kickoff on May 13 with Virtual Virginia and the Virginia Department of Education. 

In the meantime, school officials continue to adapt lessons, planning and guidelines to help better serve their students while following state and local guidelines.

Copyright 2020 Womack Publishing 

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