To the editor:
We write to express our support and gratitude to the ACPS teachers, staff, administrators and School Board for their continued commitment to our students during Virtual+ Learning.
While many professions were able to transition with little effort to the virtual business world, teaching does not translate nearly as easily. Teaching at the primary and secondary levels has traditionally been an in-person profession and adapting to this new environment has been a herculean effort.
Educators have had to re-orient lesson plans and develop entirely new methods of connecting with students, while combating the relentless technical challenges faced by all, including the youngest learners who cannot even read the word “wifi” yet. Teachers, staff and administrators are just like everyone else: They have personal lives, families and very real concerns; yet every morning they welcome our children, even in the virtual world, with a smile and positive attitude.
We all agree we wish the circumstances were different. We understand that in-person learning is certainly best for most kids and want nothing more than our students, teachers and staff to return safely to the school buildings.
By following state and national guidelines that utilize metrics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, ACPS has based all of its decisions on what is the safest option for our children and staff. Alexandria has led the way in Northern Virginia with moving our community into the next phase with vaccinations.
We commend Alexandria City Public Schools and the Alexandria Health Department for their swift implementation of the vaccination program for teachers and staff that was able to start last week. Superintendent Dr. Gregory Hutchings Ed.D., has said that within the next six weeks he hopes all ACPS employees will have the opportunity to be vaccinated – an incredible achievement less than a month after the first American received the vaccine outside of a clinical trial.
We recognize that many of us continue to strug- gle with aspects of virtual learning and we are also thankful for the patience and fortitude of so many of our fellow parents and guardians. We all experience stress, in various ways and to varying degrees.
Division-wide virtual learning is uncharted territory, and of course has its downsides. It certainly is not the preferred method to teach our students, especially our youngest learners, EL students and those with disabilities.
We commend our teachers and staff for putting in countless hours, teaching in ways they never knew possible and continuing to inspire their students every day. Students are learning not only the curriculum, but also how to survive and grow academically in a challenging new environment. ACPS buildings may not be open in the traditional sense, yet our students and staff arrive to learn and work every day.
As ACPS continues to assess metrics and guidelines, we express our gratitude to ACPS teachers, staff and administrators for their tireless commitment to ensuring that our children continue to receive the social, emotional and academic support they deserve throughout the pandemic.
-Bill Pfister, Maureen McNulty, Christina Brennan, Linda Williams, Katy Matthews, Missy Estabrook, Greta Gordon, Margaret McLaughlin, Current and former officers, Alexandria Council PTA