School Operations and Grading Policy
Good Evening Oakton,
As you may have seen yesterday, Dr. Brabrand sent out a communication regarding the impact of the updated CDC guidance on school operations. The letter can be found here in its entirety. I would like to further clarify this guidance and provide updates on how this will look at Oakton High School. Below you will find information on how we will implement this new guidance and the factors that will guide our decision making process. I have also included further information on the updated end-of-year grading practices that were released prior to spring break.
Jamie S. Lane, Principal
Enhanced In-Person Instruction Considerations and Decision Making Process
Currently, Fairfax County is listed under “Red” or “High” community transmission. Under “High” community transmission:
- When community transmission is “high,” CDC guidance indicates that 3’ social distancing is appropriate in elementary classrooms where mask use is universal, but 6’ if the student is not wearing their mask, such as when eating lunch.
- Per current data (April 5, 2021) middle and high schools will expand capacity for in-person instruction but will remain at 6’ social distancing until Fairfax County moves out of the “high” designation for community transmission.
- This change in guidance applies to the space between students. Staff-to-student and staff-to-staff spacing will remain at 6’.
- When we move out of the “high” community transmission rate, 6’ social distancing will need to be maintained at lunch, health and physical education classes, and most performing arts classes.
The information above limits our ability to bring back a large number of students four days a week under our current circumstances. Our decision making process must consider many factors including, but not limited to the following:
- Our maximum capacity for identified lunch spaces each day with consideration for the need to maintain 6’ social distancing for the safety of our students.
- Our maximum capacity in classrooms. As a data point, 136 classes would not fit in their assigned classrooms if we tried to bring all of our in-person students back for four days of instruction.
- Our testing schedule. Our end of year standardized testing schedule begins April 12 and runs through June 4. As such, we will be bringing in large numbers of virtual students to test daily for SOL’s and AP tests. These students need to be accounted for with regard to space and lunch accommodations.
During the weeks of April 5 and April 12 we will be inviting students back to four days of in-person instruction who were previously identified by our Multi-tiered Systems of Support Team. This team is made up of administrators, counselors, clinical staff, and our Systems of Support Advisor. Students identified are in need of intensive support and intervention in foundational academic, behavior, and social-emotional wellness skills.
Following the invitation of this first group of students we will look at inviting a subsequent group of students back if space allows. These students would be identified as those needing support in multiple areas to include re-teaching essential academics, behavior, and social-emotional wellness.
If spaces continue to exist after this point, we will establish additional criteria for inviting students back to the building.
Please understand that this process is time consuming and schedules need to be reviewed individually, by hand, to determine if space allows for an increased return.
Per Dr. Brabrand’s letter, if we believe we have space to increase the instructional days for your student(s), we will be in contact with you.
Updated Grading Policies
Prior to Spring Break, Dr. Brabrand also released updated end-of-year grading policies. That letter can be found in its entirety here. Below I have further clarified what these options mean to your students.
Grading Policy Changes for High School
In response to family feedback and student check-in results, FCPS will be seeking to lessen the stress and anxiety posed for some students who have been challenged by the virtual learning environment during the past (and ongoing) pandemic year.
We are adjusting our grading policy for SY2020-21 to ensure students are not penalized by the challenges brought to us by pandemic learning.
Key options for high school students are:
- Use of No Mark (NM) instead of F grades for all courses.
- In these cases, students would not have an F factored into their GPA. A “NM” would appear on the transcript in lieu of an F. However, they would still be required to retake the course if it was a graduation requirement. The course could be taken over the summer, if offered, or the following school year.
- Final Exam flexibility that ensures an exam can only serve to improve a student’s grade for the year.
- Collaborative teacher teams will discuss if a final exam opportunity will be made available to students. If a final exam is offered, it can only serve to improve a student’s final grade, not hinder it.
- We will not have final exams for our seniors due to the overlap of Advanced Placement exams for this school year.
- Allowing students/families to choose a mark of “P” (pass) instead of passing letter grades (C’s or D’s, for example) as their final mark in up to two courses.
- We are currently awaiting updated guidance around this option and will share with the community as soon as it is available. We want to be sure to provide the best guidance possible around how the “P” will be viewed by college and university admissions so families can make the most informed decision around the use of this option.
If you are interested in one or more of the options above, please reach out to your student(s) school counselor to further discuss.
4th Quarter Standardized Testing Flexibility:
- Advanced Placement testing options include at-home digital and in-person paper and pencil exams depending on the course.
- While the Virginia Department of Education required that SOLs must be offered, a virtual testing option is being developed, and families are being provided with expanded SOL refusal options for COVID-related concerns.
- More information on SOL Testing can be found here.