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Rockingham County Schools lays framework for remainder of academic year

Rockingham Schools superintendent Oskar Scheikl released the following letter to students and parents about plans for distance learning from the remainder of the 2019-2020 academic year.

March 27, 2020

Dear RCPS Parents and Students,

We are living in unprecedented times. The closing of schools for the COVID-19 pandemic has certainly created a sad end to the 2019-20 school year, and it is okay and natural to grieve the abrupt end to a “traditional” school year. Over the past two weeks, RCPS employees have been tending to the basic needs of our students by providing over 6,000 meals and delivering thousands of pounds of groceries to the families of our students. We thank all those who have given their time for this purpose. While we are disappointed, we are also in a position to make a tremendous difference in the lives of our students. We now get to do something never attempted on such a large scale; create meaningful distance learning opportunities for all of our students. This email will outline the general parameters we will follow over the next several months. These guidelines have been established based on guidance from the Virginia Department of Education along with input from school and division leaders. The intention is not to give an answer to every question that may arise in the process, but to provide a basic framework for how we will operate over the next three months. In all of these efforts, it is our intention, to the best of our ability, to provide a meaningful educational experience for all our students, including students with disabilities, EL students, and those with limited internet access.


For the remainder of the year, teachers will be providing a rich variety of educational opportunities to students. Each week, students will receive a menu of daily activities they can complete in each content area. Activities for related arts classes like art, music, physical education, library and guidance will be offered as feasible.

1. All activities, for all classes combined, should not exceed two hours of work for students per day.

2. These materials will consist of both online and paper activities which will include review material as well as some new content that would have been taught in the last three months of the school year.

3. Students are not expected to turn in or return work to their teachers.

4. These materials will be distributed to students in a variety of ways. Given the social distancing requirements and our efforts to limit the number of staff involved in our operations, school staff will not deliver materials to students’ homes.

5. As part of our good faith effort to help all students, we will strive to provide alternative access to the curriculum for students with disabilities and English Learners.

At the end of the year, it is our intention that students will be promoted to the next grade unless the student is significantly behind and a meeting has already been held with the parents to discuss the topic of retention. We do hope to offer an extensive summer school program for elementary students during the month of July, provided that schools are open by that time.


The issues become a bit more complex as we are working with topics related to graduation, grading, courses for high school credit, online learning, etc. We will explain these details through the information provided below:

1. Timeline:

March 27 - April 13: Opportunity for late work for all of Term 3 to be submitted

March 30 - April 3: Review work and activities shared with students

April 6 - 10: Spring Break (No work assigned during spring break)

April 13 - June 4: Teachers will provide module/unit of study weekly

2. Current seniors who are on track to graduate, will graduate in spring 2020. There will not be any Standards of Learning assessments this spring. Students requiring a SOL test to graduate will have that requirement waived.

3. Students in grades 9 -11, enrolled in a class with an end-of-course SOL test, will have the testing requirement waived.

4. Students will be allowed to submit late work for all of Term 3 that was missing prior to March 13. This work will be accepted until April 13, and it will be graded without penalty.

5. The final grade a student had on March 13 is the lowest grade the student can receive. No student's grades will be lowered from this point based on work completed (or not completed) from April 13 until the end of the school year.

6. Guidelines from the Virginia Department of Education state that “divisions must award standard credit for high school credit-bearing courses by ensuring that students have completed a majority of required standards, competencies, and objectives, including those that are essential for success in subsequent coursework.” It is important to understand that the school year was nearly 70% completed when schools were closed. Therefore, in most classes, students completed a majority of the standards and competencies for their classes.

7. Please reference this Google sheet which defines Required courses.

8. Our intent is to identify the remaining essential content required for student success during the next school year. Middle and high school students should actively participate in required classes for the remainder of the year, which will focus on this essential content. After the first week of review (March 30-April 3) and spring break, teachers will provide units/modules for the last 8 weeks.

9. Students will be evaluated based on completion of work. They will not be graded on this material in the traditional A-F grading scale, however, completed work can be used as extra credit to help motivate students to complete assignments in an effort to raise their overall grade in a particular course. Students may raise their final grade as much as possible based on the teacher’s discretion. Again, we are emphasizing that no student will receive a grade lower than what they had on March 13.

10. If students cannot actively participate due to extenuating circumstances, they may attend summer school to access these modules/units.

11. In non-required classes, teachers will provide engaging activities for students to select and complete. Students are encouraged to complete these assignments. Non-required courses will not be offered during our traditional summer school.

12. Teachers will provide to students 8 week-long modules of material to be completed from April 13 - June 4. These modules will be focused on essential content (think big topics). Each module will take an estimated 2-3 hours per week for students to complete. The modules/units should be sent to students by Monday of each week.

13. Each module will be created with an online component, which we highly recommend students use. A paper version of the activities will be included within each module for students without access to the internet. For the purpose of health and safety, we are strongly recommending that online learning occur as much as possible. Directions for how we will provide paper materials to students will follow at a later time since we are still adhering to guidelines for non-essential personnel to stay at home.

14. Dual Enrollment (DE) courses will be governed by the affiliated Community College or University. Teachers of DE classes will receive guidance about how to proceed and move forward.

Additional considerations

Seniors are expected to participate as the underclassmen for the eight learning modules. However, summer school would not be an option for seniors. Graduation will not be withheld from seniors if they were on track for graduation when school ended on March 13.

Students (grades 9-11) in packets should continue to work at them to meet the required standards, competencies, and objectives.

As part of our good-faith effort to help all students, we will strive to provide alternative access to the curriculum for students with disabilities and English Learners. It is important that we collaborate with special education support services, EL teachers, and families, to continue to meet the diverse needs of our students.

Oskar Scheikl

RCPS Superintendent

Thumbnail: Getty

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