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Virginia Dept. of Education is not approving school reopening plans, it’s up to local school boards

The instructional plan must be submitted to VDOE 15 business days before the division begins instruction for 2020-2021

ROANOKE, Va. – As schools outline their reopening plans, we’re working for you on how the approval process works and taking your questions to the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE).

All public schools must submit both a health plan and an instructional plan but now the Virginia Department of Education is saying it does not approve the plans.

In a letter to superintendents the Virginia Superintendent of Public Instruction and State Health Commissioner said:

“This process leaves the final decisions about reopening squarely in the hands of local school boards. Local public health conditions, community concerns, and practical facility constraints have to be taken into account in these school reopening decisions, and we believe our local leaders are best positioned to do that thoughtfully.”

The health plan must be sent in no later than one day before school begins.

Meanwhile, the instructional plan must be submitted to VDOE 15 business days before the division begins instruction and must:

  • Plan for school schedules, transportation, technology, processes, systems, communication, etc.
  • Plan for providing new instruction to all students including the learning needs of all students equitably, with attention to vulnerable and special populations (including but not limited to students with disabilities, economically disadvantaged, English learners, those students disconnected with school during the spring closure, students already identified as being part of a gap group, young learners, gifted students, etc.); preparing teachers through professional development; robust family engagement; and communication with stakeholders
  • Include strategies to address learning lost due to spring school closures
  • Include a plan for fully remote instruction if public health conditions require it
  • Be available on the division’s website before it’s sent to VDOE

“VDOE does not ‘approve’ the instructional plans as the operation of the school division is the responsibility of the local school board. We will however provide assistance to any division whose plan is missing one or more of the required elements,” said Charles Pyle, a VDOE spokesperson.

But ultimately, it is up to the local school board to decide when and how schools reopen, according to VDOE.

Pyle points out public school divisions should separately notify the VDOE if they intend to exceed the recommended program offerings or significantly deviate from the guidance.

We have a link to the documents if you want to see more of what the VDOE is saying here.

Below is a document outlining the guidelines for Virginia schools when submitting 2020-2021 instructional plans:


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