Hello OCPS Family:

We find ourselves as students, parents, employees, and families trying to make sense out of new realities that have thrust themselves upon us with little to no warning. That being said, rest assured that OCPS staff have been relentless in their pursuit of ensuring comfort and safety for all students involved since the inception of our understanding of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the day we planned for a limited closure back on Friday, March 13th we have been introduced to the reality that we will not return to complete the year as we started. Naturally, this brings forth many questions and concerns.

Students, we will continue to embrace you, support you, and love you as we always have. The year is now going to look different, but have no fear, you know your teachers and principals and others are in your corner to ensure that you receive the recognition for your hard work and dedication over the past year and subsequent years.

OCPS leadership continues to seek guidance from the Virginia Department of Education to ensure that no student becomes lost in this rapidly paced challenge in which we find ourselves. The Virginia Department of Education has been very responsive and is providing guidance that will work in the best interest for all students. Another layer of policy that is being addressed through the Virginia Department of Education belongs to the federally mandated Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and other federal monies that flow through to our locality. Each funding source has policy requirements that we are working through to loosen. We do this through a process called “waivers.” OCPS seeks waivers from the state on certain policies, the state seeks waivers from the federal oversight, etc. The good news is that waivers are being sought on policy that provides oversight on many issues: from graduation to SOL assessments to accreditation, etc. Such waivers will ensure that our students are afforded the deserved graduations and promotions. I understand that this blog’s contents are general in nature and don’t delve into some situational details of which you may be desirous, but we believe communication must continue regardless where we find ourselves on the continuum of change.

After today’s communication with the state department that provided guidance to all 132 school divisions in the Commonwealth, OCPS leadership is ready to make pragmatic sense of the details. These details, as vetted for reality, will be forthcoming and methodically processed. Please remain patient and understanding as we truly partner together as a learning community. Additionally, please find the following newly released document of use: VDOE Updates. The host website COVID-19 & Virginia Public Schools is updated periodically, and you may find it a good barometer.

Warmly,

Superintendent Snead