COMMONWEALTH of VIRGINIA
Department of Education
October 9, 2009
TO: Division Superintendents
FROM: Patricia I. Wright, Superintendent of Public Instruction
While current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines for schools do not recommend school closure as a means of mitigating the spread of H1N1 influenza, individual schools might need to close if high rates of absenteeism affect operations. Federal guidelines recommend that school divisions prepare for continuity of instruction should schools need to close, or should individual students be absent for extended periods due to illness related to H1N1. As part of H1N1 response planning, the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) has encouraged all school divisions to develop alternative procedures to assure continuity of instruction in the event of school closures, whether for short or extended periods of time (e.g., Web-based instruction, mailed or delivered instructional packets, and instruction via local radio or television stations.) See http://www.doe.virginia.gov/support/health_medical/influenza/.
Virginia's public instructional stations can provide online resources and educational programming. These instructional programs have been selected by teaching professionals from the five Regional Schools Contracting and Planning Committees (RSCPC) with approval by the VDOE, to support the Virginia Standards of Learning. In the event of widespread and prolonged school closings, weekly instructional program broadcast schedules may be available on the websites listed below for the stations. The weekly schedules may include program descriptions, along with links to supplemental materials, including teacher guides and program series resources for learning on the Web. All materials are free.
We encourage school divisions to meet with their respective public broadcasting representatives to discuss possible programming and resources. These regional public instructional stations include:
Blue Ridge PBS, http://www.blueridgepbs.org, WBRA/Roanoke, WMSY/Marion, WSBN/Norton
Community Ideas Stations, http://ideastations.org/, WCVE/Richmond, WHTJ/Charlottesville
MHZ Networks, http://www.mhznetworks.org/education/onlinelearning/, Northern Virginia
WHRO, http://www.whro.org/home/, WHRO/Norfolk
WVPT, http://www.wvpt.net/, Harrisonburg
In addition, the PBS stations in these regions (adding WETA in Northern Virginia http://www.weta.org) broadcast many children's programs which will continue to air before and after the elementary grade instructional blocks. Please also check evening schedules on their websites for programs appropriate for middle and high school students. As parents look for educational activities for their children confined at home, please consider adding these links and information to individual teachers' homepages or to your schools' websites.
For additional information, please contact the Directors of Instruction listed on the stations' websites or Tia Campbell, school health specialist, at 804-786-8671 or Tia.Campbell@doe.virginia.gov.