Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Below you will find a variety of frequently asked questions regarding how Dinwiddie County Public Schools is dealing with various issues during the COVID-19 pandemic school closing.  There are many questions that DCPS is working to answer as quickly as possible. Please check back often as this page will be updated with the most current responses to questions as we receive them.  

NOTE:  August 26, 2020: Chromebook distribution has begun.  Please be patient as information is being compiled and will be made  accessible for parents and students soon with all you will need about logging in, how to get to your classes (when they become available), Chromebook Help Desk, Canvas help, how to take attendance, and much more!

FAQs: Last updated (November 2020) 

Table of Contents:

Contacting School Board and School Offices
Staying Informed/ Submitting Questions
Roles and Responsibilities
Executive Orders Amended by Governor – November 2020
COVID-19 Concerns /Support and Speaking With Children
Learning and Work During COVID-19
Chromebook Help
Chromebook Information
Internet Questions
Grading Questions
SOL Testing
SAT/ACT
Athletics
Meals During School Closure
Safety Concerns
Transportation
Notifications
Outside Organizations and Events
Kindergarten/Preschool Registration
Enrolling and Withdrawing From School
Yearbooks

Contacting School Board Office and School Offices

Will the School Board Office be open daily?

Starting August 3, 2020,  the School Board Office will be open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.  Please call 804-469-4190 if you have questions.

Will the schools be open?

The schools are not open to the public on a regular basis, but are open for scheduled appointments.  Please call your child’s school to schedule a appointment for anything you need.  Visit our School’s page for addresses and phone numbers.

Back to Top

Staying Informed / Questions

What is the best way to stay informed about school system developments?

Information will be posted to our website (this FAQ page and links from this page) as well as on our Facebook and Twitter pages. Robocalls will also be sent as necessary.

  • Visit our DCPS Call System page for more information on our automatic call system and if you are not receiving calls.
  • Visit our Campus Parent Information page for more information on our Parent Portal which keeps parents informed on their children’s progress.  In addition, parents can keep their phone number and email address updated to make sure we are able to send you information when necessary about your child, school, or division updates.

If you have questions that are not included on this page or links from this page, please submit them to this page using the Submit a Question form and your question will be forwarded to the appropriate person to answer.  Please check this FAQs page often as information is updated as new information is made available.

Submit a Question

Back to Top

Roles and Responsibilities of Students, Parents, Employees

What are the roles and responsibilities of teachers, counselors, students, parents, and other employees during this crisis plan?

Please read our Roles and Responsibilities document outlining this for our division.

Are high school students still required to check their school email?

Yes!  Important information from the DHS School Counseling Office, Administration, and others will continued to be emailed as usual to ALL high school students.  Students should check their emails regularly to keep up with announcements and news that could pertain to them (especially seniors) as they should be doing normally if school were in session.

Back to Top

Amended Executive Order 67 – 25 Person Gathering Limit

Do public and private schools fall under the 25 person gathering limit? (EO 67, updated 11.13.2020)

The gathering limit does not apply to “educational instructional settings.” This includes classrooms, buses, cafeterias and recess held on school grounds. The presence of 25 individuals for “performing functions of their employment” does not fall under the gathering limit either.

Per EO 67, “a “gathering” includes, but is not limited to, parties, celebrations, or other social events, whether they occur indoors or outdoors.” Therefore, gatherings under this definition on school grounds are prohibited.

Do school sports fall under the 25 person gathering limit? (EO 67, updated 11.13.2020)

The 25 person limit applies to the total number of spectators at athletic competitions. It does not include athletes, staff, trainers or coaches on the field. Additional guidance will be forthcoming from VHSL on high school athletic competitions.

Can our school or division bring in more than 25 students for assessment purposes?

Yes, bringing students in for assessment purposes does not constitute a “gathering” under EO 67. Mitigation measures should be implemented for such activities.

Do child care settings fall under the 25 person gathering limit? (EO 67, updated 11.13.2020)

The gathering limit does not apply to “educational instructional settings.” This includes child care settings. Per EO 67, “a ‘gathering’ includes, but is not limited to, parties, celebrations, or other social events, whether they occur indoors or outdoors.” Therefore, gatherings under this definition in child care settings are prohibited.

Are school board meetings impacted by the 25 person gathering limit?

No, these meetings are not considered gatherings under EO 67 but rather, are operations of government and fall under the exemption found in 4 (e).

Back to Top

COVID-19 Concerns/Support And Speaking With Children

Are there parent resources available to support student mental and emotional health?

Our school counselors and student support staff are available to provide telehealth (mental health supports to include counseling). Please contact your child’s school counselor for more information.

How can I talk to my child about his/her concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic?

The National Association of School Psychologist has information on how you can talk with children about these concerns.  Please view this article Talking to Children About COVID-19 (Coronavirus): A Parent Resource (PDF).

Back to Top

Learning During COVID-19

In August, there will be a DCPS 2020-2021 Learning Plan presented to the Board using guidelines set by the Virginia Department of Education.  Once finalized, that plan will be posted here.

Training for Students and Families

To support the needs of our students and families, Dinwiddie County Public Schools ill be providing ongoing support related to the learning management system, Canvas, and any of the educational resources available to our learners. We have provided the following trainings, the links are available in the Return-to-School plan and below:

Back to Top

Chromebook Help

In August, there will be a DCPS 2020-2021 Learning Plan presented to the Board using guidelines set by the Virginia Department of Education.  It will include information this information. Once finalized, that plan will be posted here.

Back to Top

Chromebook Information

On August 11, 2020, the DCPS 2020-2021 Learning Plan presented to the Board using guidelines set by the Virginia Department of Education. The following tablet pick up dates was announced.  More information will be available later.

August September
26 – Dinwiddie High School 1 – Southside Elementary
27 – Dinwiddie Middle School  2 – Sutherland Elementary School
28 – Sunnyside Elementary School 3 – Midway Elementary School
31 – Dinwiddie Elementary  4 – Preschool

Back to Top

Internet Issues

What do I do if I have limited or no internet service at home?

If you don’t have a WiFi connection at home:

  • Connect via your cell phone hot spot
  • Talk to your neighbors about the possibility of sharing Internet connections
  • Drive  to one of our schools and sit in the parking lot to connect your Dinwiddie County Public Schools device to the regular school WiFi  OR you can connect your personal device to the open public WiFi available.  We have extended the range of the WiFi to reach into the parking lot areas.  We do ask that you follow “social distancing” guidelines when doing this.  Be mindful of the “large gatherings” rule per the Governor’s guidelines.

Park near the following areas to access WiFi.

    • Dinwiddie Elementary: Main Playground and Cafeteria areas
    • Midway Elementary: Teacher Parking Lot and Gym
    • Southside Elementary: Teacher Parking Lot and Front of Building
    • Sunnyside Elementary: Education Cottages/Modulars and Bus Loop
    • Sutherland Elementary: Bus Loop and Front of Building
    • Dinwiddie Middle: Field House and Press Box
    • Dinwiddie High: Front of Building and Teacher Parking Lot
    • Historic Southside High School: Library and Pathways Learning Center
    • Central Office (Pamplin Building): Front of Building

In addition, Dinwiddie County Department of Information Technology has expanded Guest WiFi service at key public facilities. Beginning immediately, citizens may access the County’s Guest WiFi in parking lots of the following facilities:

    • Dinwiddie County Government Center (all lots)
    • Eastside Community Enhancement Center (signal strongest in parking spaces closest to the building – the County is currently making investments in equipment that will strengthen the WiFi signal to all areas of the parking lot)
    • McKenney Gym (front lot)
    • Robert & Betty Ragsdale Community Center (front lot)

Also, West End Baptist Church in Sutherland has an open WiFi signal that is accessible around most of the exterior of their building. The church is planning to expand that area to all of the road frontage sides of the building soon.

Please note the following:

  • This expanded WiFi is NOT intended to encourage carpooling. Citizens are advised to ONLY transport individuals residing in the same household.
  • Patrons are encouraged to continue to follow social distancing guidelines when visiting these sites.
  • Patrons MUST remain inside their vehicles at all times.
  • Facilities remain CLOSED to the public.
  • NO public restrooms are available.
  • The speed of Guest WiFi is affected by the number of users at any given time. Please be considerate of your neighbors by limiting each WiFi session to one-hour.
  • Patrons are using the County’s Guest WiFi of their own volition. Dinwiddie County is not responsible for personal devices and cannot provide technical assistance.
  • County WiFi expansion sites are under video surveillance and will be subject to periodic patrols by the Dinwiddie County Sheriff’s Office.

Many companies have announced offers during this pandemic. See the various ones below:

Comcast

As part of a response to the spread of coronavirus, telecommunications company Comcast recently announced that it was offering two free months of home internet service to low-income families who qualify for the company’s “Internet Essentials” service. The website for the promotion is internetessentials.com/covid19.

Xfinity

Xfinity WiFi Free for Everyone: Xfinity WiFi hotspots across the country will be available to anyone who needs them for free – including non-Xfinity Internet subscribers. For a map of Xfinity WiFi hotspots,  visit www.xfinity.com/wifi. Once at a hotspot, consumers should select the “xfinitywifi” network name in the list of available hotspots, and then launch a browser.

Verizon

Verizon Wireless is adding 15GB of data across nearly all of plans, to be used between 03/25/2020 and 04/30/2020. For more information go to https://www.verizon.com/support/covid-19-faqs/.

T-Mobile

COVID-19 Response: While T-Mobile does not have a low-cost offer, it has announced that starting now, all current T-Mo and Metro by T-Mobile customers who have plans with data will have unlimited smartphone data for 60 days, excluding roaming. Most subscribers already have unlimited data, but now people who may be on an older plan with a data allotment have unlimited data.  Also, Starting soon, T-Mobile and Metro by T-Mobile customers will have an additional 20GB of mobile hotspot data for the next 60 days. For more information go
to:  https://www.tmonews.com/2020/03/t-mobile-metro-unlimited-data-mobile-hotspot-coronavirus/.

AT&T

COVID-19 response:  AT&T has committed waive data overage fees in response to Covid-19.  For more information go to:  https://www.att.com/help/covid-19/.

Back to Top

Grading

Yes, students will receive numerical/letter grades for the 2020-2021 school year as normal. While learning may look different this year, students are expected to continue learning and growing in their student career.  As for elementary, kindergarten grading will the stay the same, while 1st grade – 5th grade will be non-weighted, all grades out of 100 points, and will use the elementary A-F grading scale as the majority have been doing in the past.

Back to Top

SOL Testing

What SOL tests will school divisions administer when schools reopen?

SOL tests may be administered for the 2020-2021 school year.  More information will be available once confirmed from the Virginia Department of Education in conjunction with the DCPS instructional plan.

Back to Top

SAT/ACT

What is the impact on SAT administration?

The College Board will provide weekend SAT administrations every month through the end of the calendar year, beginning in August. This includes scheduled test administrations on August 29, September 26, October 3, November 7, and December 5. Read more at CollegeBoard.orgThis link takes you out of the Virginia Department of Education website.

What are the dates for ACT testing for fall 2020?

Below are the national ACT testing dates for September and October. The dates listed as new are additions to the  regularly scheduled fall testing dates.

September

  • Saturday, September 12 (existing)
  • Sunday, September 13 (non-Saturday, existing)
  • Saturday, September 19 (new)
  • Sunday, September 27 (new)

October

  • Saturday, October 10 (new)
  • Saturday, October 17 (new)
  • Saturday, October 24 (existing)
  • Sunday, October 25 (non-Saturday, existing)

ACT has decided to postpone the planned launch of online testing for national ACT test-takers.

Back to Top

Athletics

What about athletic events and after-school and weekend activities?

On July 27 the Virginia High School League (VHSL) Executive Committee voted to approve Model 3 in the re-opening of high school sports and activities. This model delays sports and activities until December 14 and keeps all sports in the seasons where they are currently aligned.

Model 3 adopts the Condensed Interscholastic Plan: (shown below)

VHSL Model 3 Plan

Please visit VHSL.org for more information.  We will keep you all informed as new details become available.

Back to Top

Safety Concerns

What is DCPS doing to make its facilities as safe as possible?

During the closure, the DCPS Maintenance and Transportation departments will engage in thorough cleaning of school buildings and buses. DCPS administrators continue to be in close contact with state and local health officials regarding their latest recommendations.  At our August 11, 2020, Board meeting the DCPS Health Mitigation Plan was presented.  Click here to view the DCPS Health Mitigation Plan for more details on what we are doing to help keep our students and staff safe.

What can my family do to stay healthy and safe?

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention coronavirus webpage describes what families and individuals can do to be prepared and minimize the spread of coronavirus. The Virginia Department of Health provides recommendations and current information specific to the commonwealth.

Should schools test or screen students or staff for COVID-19 symptoms?

The CDC revised its guidance for K-12 schools regarding the symptom screening of students. The CDC does not currently recommend universal symptom screening for K-12 schools. Parents or caregivers should be strongly encouraged to monitor their children for signs of infectious illness every day and keep them home when they are sick.  The CDC has created a helpful checklist for parents to use at home.

Screening procedures are available for students and staff who arrive with or develop symptoms during the course of the day. The Operations Section of the Recover, Redesign, Restart guide provides detailed considerations (PDF) for schools in developing such policies.  Sample health screenings and sample health entrance questionnaires are available from VDOE in English and Spanish.  Click here to view the DCPS Health Mitigation Plan for more details on what we are doing to help keep our students and staff safe.

What should schools do if an individual is experiencing flu-like or COVID-19 symptoms?

If an individual answers YES to any of the screening questions at or before arriving at school, they should stay home and not enter the building. If a student or employee experiences symptoms of COVID-19 while at school, move the individual out of the classroom or group setting, isolate in a predetermined location, and inform the school nurse or school health staff member. School health staff must wear personal protective equipment (PPE), including N-95 face mask or surgical face mask, goggles and gloves before entering into the room to evaluate the individual. Call the parent or family member of the student/employee to pick up and take home, refer to a healthcare provider for evaluation and 10 days of isolation before returning to work or school. If symptoms persist or worsen they should contact their healthcare provider.  If there is a confirmed case of COVID 19This link takes you out of the Virginia Department of Education website in a school, the local health department will work closely with school administrators to determine a course of action for their schools. Schools should follow the CDC Interim Guidance for K-12This link takes you out of the Virginia Department of Education website for schools and use the School Decision TreeThis link takes you out of the Virginia Department of Education website to determine school closing in collaboration with the local health department. Schools should follow CDC/EPA guidelinesThis link takes you out of the Virginia Department of Education website for cleaning/disinfecting of space or CDC, Everyday Steps, Steps When Someone is Sick, and Considerations for EmployersThis link takes you out of the Virginia Department of Education website. The VDH will work closely with the school to make environmental cleaning recommendations, conduct contact tracing, and investigate any potential exposures.

Click here to view the DCPS Health Mitigation Plan for more details on what we are doing to help keep our students and staff safe.

What can schools do to protect vulnerable students and employees from COVID-19?

Based on currently available information and clinical expertise, older adults and people of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions might be at higher riskThis link takes you out of the Virginia Department of Education website for severe illness from COVID-19. Parents of children who are medically fragile or have one or more chronic conditions should check with their health care provider about school attendance. In addition, employees that meet the criteria listed for ‘higher risk’ populations should check with their healthcare provider before returning to work and should have contacted Human Resources. The Governor’s phase guidance for public schools recommends remote learning and teleworking options be made available to students and staff that fall into this category.

What should schools do if a student or staff member is exposed to a COVID-19 positive person?

Many people diagnosed with COVID-19 do not have any symptoms of illness. Public health recommendations have been updated to accommodate new scientific evidence, evolving epidemiology, and the need to simplify risk assessment. The CDCThis link takes you out of the Virginia Department of Education website provides guidance based on community exposure, for people exposed to people with known or suspected COVID-19 or possible COVID-19.

As schools prepare to reopen there is a possibility that students or staff may be sent home with symptoms of a COVID-like illness. As a result, The Virginia Department of Health has created a useful tool for schools to determine when a student or employee who was exposed to or received a lab-confirmed diagnosis of COVID 19 can return to work or school. This infographicThis link takes you out of the Virginia Department of Education website provides clear, concise parameters for return to school/work with or without formal COVID testing; and when quarantine can end for those exposed. We are also creating our DCPS Health Mitigation Plan which will outline our processes and procedures.

Click here to view the DCPS Health Mitigation Plan for more details on what we are doing to help keep our students and staff safe.

What guidance is there related to the cleaning of school buildings?

Reducing the risk of exposure to COVID-19 by cleaning and disinfection is an important part of reopening schools that will require careful planning. The CDC has developed reopening guidance for cleaning and disinfection schoolsThis link takes you out of the Virginia Department of Education website, a cleaning and disinfection decision treeThis link takes you out of the Virginia Department of Education website, and an infographic on cleaning your facility when someone has been diagnosed with COVID-19This link takes you out of the Virginia Department of Education website. Click here to view the DCPS Health Mitigation Plan for more details on what we are doing to help keep our students and staff safe.

What do schools need to know about contact tracing?

VDH has issued guidance on contract tracing specific to child care and PreK- 12 schools, which is available online hereThis link takes you out of the Virginia Department of Education website. CDC states that “Case investigation is the identification and investigation of patients with confirmed and probable diagnoses of COVID-19, and contact tracing is the subsequent identification, monitoring, and support of their contacts who have been exposed to, and possibly infected with, the virus.” Contact tracing will be conducted by local health departments, and may require collaboration with schools. School divisions should have open lines of communication with local public health departments in preparation for collaboration on contact tracing. Click here to view the DCPS Health Mitigation Plan for more details on what we are doing to help keep our students and staff safe.

What is the definition of exposure in a school setting?

The definition of exposure is the same for every setting and every type of classroom. When assessing a person’s risk of exposure to COVID-19, close contact means being within 6 feet of a person with COVID-19 while not wearing adequate personal protective equipment for ≥15 minutes. If someone is within six feet of a person with lab-confirmed COVID-19 for 15 minutes or more at a time, that person is considered to have been exposed. Click here to view the DCPS Health Mitigation Plan for more details on what we are doing to help keep our students and staff safe.

When are classroom or school closures triggered?

These decisions need to be made on a case-by-case basis and in consultation with the local health department.  The size of the class, extent of social distancing in place while the ill persons were present and infectious, extent of interaction and exposure in the area, and location of the case(s) in the class need to be assessed to determine the potential risk to others.  Recommendations will be based on these assessments of risk and how instruction can continue in as safe a manner as possible. Click here to view the DCPS Health Mitigation Plan for more details on what we are doing to help keep our students and staff safe.

Will students or staff who exhibit symptoms be required to show a negative COVID-19 test to return to school or work?

The CDC and VDH does not recommend requiring a negative COVID-19 test in order for students or staff to return to school, instead only those who have met the CDC criteria for return to schoolThis link takes you out of the Virginia Department of Education website should do so. The VDH created a release from isolation or quarantine guideThis link takes you out of the Virginia Department of Education website to determine when those exposed to or diagnosed with COVID-19 can return to work or school. Click here to view the DCPS Health Mitigation Plan for more details on what we are doing to help keep our students and staff safe.

Will there be protocol for sick students?

CDC and VDH strongly recommend that all schools develop protocolsThis link takes you out of the Virginia Department of Education website and isolation rooms for any individual who arrives or becomes ill at school during the day. Individuals are encouraged to monitor their own health and not attend school if they are not well. School divisions are required to include this component of planning in the health plan they submit to the VDOE before reopening. Click here to view the DCPS Health Mitigation Plan for more details on what we are doing to help keep our students and staff safe.

Can school divisions donate or loan CTE equipment during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Effective April 14, 2020, the U.S. Secretary of Education announced that career and technical education (CTE) programs can donate or loan personal protective equipment (PPE) and other medical supplies purchased with federal funds to public health agencies, private nonprofit hospitals, and other licensed health providers to support the nationwide coronavirus response effort. This new flexibility guidance comes in response to a desire from state and local educators to donate their unused equipment during the COVID-19 National Emergency. School divisions must maintain a recordThis link takes you out of the Virginia Department of Education website of any donated or loaned equipment.

Back to Top

Transportation

We will be posting our our plan soon to outline transportation procedures.

Can partitions or clear plastic curtains be installed on school buses to protect the driver from possible infection?

Partitions and clear plastic curtains do not  meet Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) crash and flammability standards. Drivers can use PPE including face shields as long as the face shields do not impede the driver’s view.

Can large capacity hand sanitizer containers be installed on school buses?

No. Alcohol based hand sanitizers can be an accelerant in a fire and large dispensing stations would not meet FMVSS crash and flammability standards. If alcohol based hand sanitation is used, it should be dispensed in a clear plastic container that holds 12 ounces or less.

Can activity buses be used for student home to school and school to home transportation?

Vehicles with a registered capacity of 11 passengers (including the driver) and higher must be school bus yellow, have all of the safety warning lights, stop arm, crossing arm, and meet all Federal and Virginia safety and specification standards.

Is there guidance on school bus disinfecting?

Yes, refer to COVID-19 Resources for School Transportation for cleaning and disinfecting practices for school buses.

Can cars still be used for student transportation?

The Phase Guidance for Schools states that physical distance should be created between children in transportation situations with a limiting capacity as needed to optimize distance between passengers. If three to six feet of distance can not be maintained, wearing of face coverings is strongly encouraged and may help reduce disease transmission. If possible given the age of students, weather conditions, etc. consider opening windows to improve ventilation.

Back to Top

Notifications to Parents, Etc.

When should notifications (letters) be sent to the entire school community? Specifically:

Symptomatic individual send home for COVID like illness

Positive case but no exposures in school

Positive case with exposure in schoolsDCPS will outline communication protocols for the notification of teachers, staff, and parents of a laboratory-confirmed case of COVID-19 associated with the school in our DCPS Health Mitigation Plan.  Notifications will be done in a way that protects the confidentiality of the ill individual and clearly explains what the school is doing in response to the diagnosis and what the recommendations are for teachers, staff, and parents.  Regular updates following an initial notification would be expected, whether or not additional cases are identified.  Teachers, staff, and parents should be kept apprised of developing situations in which more cases are found and more stringent measures are planned in the school to prevent disease.  The frequency of notifications may depend on how a situation is evolving.  For example, it might be that notices would be sent out for the first several cases individually, but then cases could be grouped into situation updates, or posted on an internal school webpage accessible to parents and staff, if the frequency of occurrence of new cases increases rapidly.  Schools will work with our local health department to plan the more detailed personal communication that will be needed for parents whose children have been identified as being a close contact of a person with COVID-19 and to discuss any questions about ongoing communications with the school and greater community.

Back to Top

Outside Organization Events at School

Are events run by external organizations that rent/use space at schools still taking place?

All activities inside of the school facilities are cancelled until further notice.

Back to Top

Meals During School Closure

Will meals continue to be distributed during the school closure?

Visit https://www.dinwiddie.k12.va.us/covid-19-information/meal-distribution/  for more information on meals during COVID-19.  Meals will be different during the 2020-2021 school year.  Information will be updated once the new plan has been approved.

Back to Top

Kindergarten and Preschool Registration

Will Kindergarten Registration still take place?

Yes, parents should go to our 2020-2021 Preschool and Kindergarten Registration page to find all information required to register you child for school as soon as possible.

Back to Top

Enrolling and Withdrawing from School

What guidance should local school divisions provide to parents regarding immunizations and physical exams required for student’s admission into the school building?

Student enrollment should continue as advised by Virginia Department of Education. Prospective students and returning students should contact your child’s assigned school for more information on what is needed. School divisions should continue to follow admission requirements required by the Code of Virginia. School divisions should encourage parents to contact their health care provider regarding their child’s immunization schedule and physical examinations.

Are the schools’ registrars available for enrolling and withdrawing students now?

School offices are opened on a limited basis and closed to the public as of now.  Please call them for additional information if you want to enroll or withdraw your student if you have moved.

Back to Top

Yearbooks

Will students receive school yearbooks?

Each school is working with their yearbook providers to get more information. Many businesses are temporarily closed. Each school will provide more information to parents once they have it.

Back to Top