FCPS School Board Votes to Move to 100 Percent Virtual Model

Catherine Smith, Advertising Manager & Social Media Director

The Fauquier County Public Schools (FCPS) School Board voted unanimously to move from a blended model opening to a 100 percent virtual opening on August 24.

Monday evenings meeting began with Citizens Time, a set period of time where attendees can express their thoughts, concerns and questions, five people spoke, with a majority asking the School Board to reopen FCPS 100 percent virtual. Superintendent David Jeck then recommended FCPS reconsider the blended model because of the number of students opting for virtual leading to staffing shortages. 

At this time 67 percent, 5956 students, have chosen the blended model; however, Jeck said the number of virtual students was slowly increasing each day. Currently 32 percent, 2860 students, were registered for virtual instruction with 37 FCPS certified teachers. The number of virtual students registered as of August 10 was close to three times the percentage from the July survey.  

In the virtual setting, there were 5 Special Education teachers for 395 Individualised Education Plan (IEP) students and no English as a Second Language (ESL) teachers for 136 ESL students. Increasing the virtual teacher number would mean taking some of the classroom teachers out of the class, creating a classroom shortage. With 395 FCPS certified subs during the 2019-20 school year FCPS has 132 for this year, 37 of which would have to fill the virtual teachers positions. Along with this, 4 nurse positions and 20 bus driver positions are vacant. 

“We dealt with the issues and barriers relative to COVID, those things that were sitting, staring us square in the face. I thought we came up with a relatively good plan. We are now, as of today, in a very different place,” said Jeck. He then went on to ask the school board to move from the blended model to the 100 percent virtual opening. 

The first week of school will be an “orientation week,” creating a classroom community, getting comfortable with instruction delivery and learning academic protocols for virtual studies according to Jeck. The four-day virtual plan is referred to as a synchronous and asynchronous instruction plan, with two days of direct work and two days working independently with teacher support. The plan is to keep the break in the week to clean classrooms, since teachers will be instructing from the classroom, and provide teachers planning time. 

The School Board discussed concerns about hotspots and device distribution. Many devices are on back-order, but they are looking to have enough to start the school year and reinstate the hotspot units from the spring as well as provide to families in need. 

Jeck explained that face-to-face developments will be made with time. A committee of elementary principals and division staff will be evaluating the possibility of face-to-face instruction for Kindergarten through 2nd grade students. He hopes to open regularly in January for all students.


Statement by Superintendent David Jeck:

“As a result of the insurmountable barriers described here it is my belief that we can not provide high-quality face-to-face instruction for the vast majority of our students. It is my recommendation to the school board that we provide virtual instruction for the students through the first term, which is December. I am sorry to make this recommendation. I want kids to be in school. Face-to-face instruction will be provided for some high incidence special education students based on the services required in their IEP’s. With what we will also be looking at ways to provide hands-on instruction for CTE students whose programs require exams for credentialing and licensure…Again I am sorry to come to you with this revised recommendation. I told you we would be ready with a mixed delivery model August 24th and although I felt we had developed a good plan moving forward. COVID-19 related barriers have created some significant workforce barriers that have made implementing a blended model an impossible situation at this time.”