Almost 15 years before COVID hit the United States, U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) issued warnings that pandemics were on the horizon and issued guidance and best practice documents to help educators at all levels develop emergency management plans. While some schools took notice and started developing plans as early as 2006, those plans collected dust as leadership rotated in and in subsequent years and attention floated to other areas.
Now, in 2023, documents created by various agencies are disappearing from public view. Whether this is the result of shortsightedness or attempts to withhold information from Office for Civil Rights (OCR) and others still investigating COVID-era noncompliance, the result is the same. We're losing opportunities to continue learning from what did and didn't work.
This page will feature documents, videos, and other assets created by—and/or related to—Virginia Department of Education in an effort to ensure they're available for future learning—and to ensure we don't forget best practices created and mistakes already made.
This page will continue to be updated.
Last Update: October 12, 2023
- March 19, 2020: Email from Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) Superintendent Scott Brabrand to FCPS "families and staff"
- Although this wasn't created by VDOE, its an important document related to VDOE. Brabrand admits that VDOE advised school division of the following: "The guidance provided by the Virginia Department of Education is that since school divisions cannot ensure equity in access, student instructional assignments should not be required or graded during the closure."
- U.S. Department of Education's statements two days later, on March 21, stated that ensuring compliance should not prevent such instruction: "To be clear: ensuring compliance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (Section 504), and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act should not prevent any school from offering educational programs through distance instruction."
- VDOE later used the lack of grading to find FCPS in compliance during COVID closures—although Office for Civil Rights (OCR) later did its own investigation finding FCPS in noncompliance.
- Spring 2023: VDOE again tried to use lack of grading to justify discriminatory actions. This time, OCR found VDOE engaged in discrimination.