It appears Orange County Public School students can get ready for some more learning on a computer at home in the upcoming academic year.

Only the youngest students, English Language Learners and disabled children will likely be able to physically return to Orange County Public Schools for start of the 2020-21 school year, and only on a limited basis, when it “reopens” on August 10 amid the ongoing pandemic and numerous state restrictions.

OCPS Superintendent Dr. Cecil Snead laid out preliminary distance learning plans in a blog post Wednesday. The plan was based on input from local families who participated in a recent survey about the spring distance learning experience, he said.

“It’s important to be reminded that this is a ‘reopening’ plan under the constraints of social distancing and the requirement that students be relegated to the same room the entire day,” the superintendent said. “We understand and appreciate that as the COVID-19 data improves and the school year progresses, we will be positioned as a school system to introduce more and more face-to-face instruction for our students.”

For the time being, however, preliminary planning indicates Orange County families should prepare for the following: PreK, K, 1, 2, and 3 grades will attend school face-to-face two days per week; students with disabilities (PreK-12) will attend face-to-face two days per week and English Language Learners (PreK-12) will attend school face-to-face two days per week, Snead said.

The other three days of the school week, these students will attend virtually on a school-issued Chromebook using Canvas, a “learning management system.” PreK-3 students wishing to remain home until full attendance is phased in can attend school virtually.

All other Orange County Public School students – grades four through 12 – will start classes completely virtually on August 10 through Canvas on a school-issued Chromebook – until further notice, according to Snead.

The Virginia Department of Education suggests emphasis on PreK-3 students, students with disabilities, and English Language Learners for face-to-face instruction, he said. School transportation for these students will be determined following a phone survey of parents to be completed before July 10.

As a result of the onset of COVID-19, Orange County Public Schools created Virtual OC as a solution for families uncomfortable sending students to school during this restrictive special circumstance, the superintendent said. Virtual OC is free, students remains enrolled in the school system, and it utilizes the Canvas system with local teacher-created curricula. Parents should contact their child’s principal for more information.Orange County Public School students, like many others around Virginia, finished the last two months of the 2019-20 school year on Chromebooks. The governor shut down schools on March 13 for the rest of the academic year due to COVID-19.

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