Our message to you on starting the school year virtually: We're all in this together and will help each other through it
Dear VES Parents and Families,
-- PTA-organized summer get-togethers for new VES students and families in August and early September are still a high priority, but they may be staggered or even virtual depending on the health conditions in Fairfax County over the next two to three weeks and whether Virginia remains in Phase 3 of its reopening plan. More details to come.
In light of the revised plan announced by FCPS on July 21 for all students to begin the school year virtually, we hope you and your families are adjusting as best as you can to this change. Obviously things are quite a bit different than they were just a week ago when we submitted enrollment choices for our children. Although we are facing many uncertainties this coming school year that will be tied to health conditions in our region and state, we want you to know the PTA officers will do all that we can to help you and your families navigate these unknowns. We saw time and again this spring that unexpected challenges brought out the best in our VES community. At the end of the day no matter how bewildering the world may be, we can and should take comfort in the fact that the VES community is a kind and generous one full of thoughtful and creative students, parents, teachers, and staff. We are all in this together and we'll help each other through it.
Now a few quick notes and ways the PTA intends to move forward and support VES students and families as we approach September 8 and through the fall:
-- According to the VES front office, the school will likely inform parents and caregivers about students' class assignments in early September.
-- The school will announce plans soon for the pick-up/distribution of 2020-21 school supplies and 2019-20 yearbooks for those who ordered them.
-- Many PTA events through Winter, including student favorites like the family dance and fall festival, will most likely be difficult if not impossible to schedule because of social distancing limitations. We will make every effort to alter other PTA activities and programs to become virtual if possible.
-- We intend to hold monthly virtual meetings on Zoom that will be open to *all* VES parents and caregivers regardless of enrollment choice or school assignment if in-person learning begins after the first quarter or midyear. We hope to schedule another Q&A with VES Principal Carmichael in August, and we're reaching out to specialists and counselors with invitations to speak at the monthly meetings. A schedule of meetings and speakers will be released as soon as it is available.
-- Some parents across the county in recent weeks have discussed forming optional learning groups -- also referred to as study buddy groups, cohorts, or play groups -- for their children during distance/virtual learning. The VES PTA is looking at ways to set up a *very* simple platform where all VES parents are able to connect and indicate their interest in forming an optional and informal learning group or play group with other VES families, possibly based on grade, class, etc. Parents would be responsible for contacting each other and taking the ball from there, but the PTA would like to at least make it easier for everyone to share info and contact each other. The level of commitment and activities would be entirely up to families and groups. Some parents have considered hiring daily tutors or "education coaches" and splitting the cost with other families in a group while other parents want to form more casual play groups that meet periodically. Those decisions and group formations would be completely up to parents. Because of legal and insurance-related limitations, the PTA cannot organize groups of this nature or manage them, but we can help put you all in touch with each other so you can form groups if you'd like. More details on the platform to come soon via the Viking Voice and posts on the PTA web site and social media accounts. Reminder: class/teacher assignments will likely not be released until early September (see first item above).
The FCPS website provides regular updates on the Return to School plan, including updates to its FAQ for students and families. It is also continuing to provide food resources to FCPS families through the summer. You can find more information at https://www.fcps.edu/
We welcome your thoughts, ideas and questions and we wish you all well. Please let us know how we can best assist you. We'll be back in touch soon.
PTA Co-Presidents Heather Kenney and Stefanie Petrucelli