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Town Talk: A conversation with Dr. Chris Ballenger, Superintendent, Warren County Schools

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In this Town Talk, we’ll have a conversation with Dr. Chris Ballenger. Dr. Ballenger joined the Warren County School System on July 1, 2020. One of his first challenges was the two high-school graduations, which were a great success and well-received by both parents and students. This success he credits the hard work of his team of staff and teachers who made it happen.

In this conversation with our publisher Mike McCool, Dr. Ballenger outlines the plan for re-opening our schools and addresses some concerns of parents. He said, “As you can imagine, a tremendous amount of thought and planning has gone into the reopening plan for our students.  We have progressed through the development of our plan with guidance from the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) and the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE).” He went on, “It is possible that adjustments will be made to our plan as we receive new information and guidance as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve.  This year will require the entire school community to be flexible and patient as the school year progresses.”

The WCPS Reopening and Instructional plan can be found on our website along with the WCPS Health Plan (https://www.wcps.k12.va.us/index.php/parents/wcps-re-opening-options).

Town Talk is a series on the Royal Examiner where we will introduce you to local entrepreneurs, businesses, non-profit leaders, and political figures who influence Warren County. Topics will be varied but hopefully interesting. If you have an idea, topic, or want to hear from someone in our community, let us know. Send your request to news@RoyalExaminer.com



This is an overview of the re-opening plan:

The two instructional delivery choices for families for the start of the 2020-2021 school year are the Hybrid Model and the Full Virtual Model.

Hybrid Model:

Grades PreK-4:  In-person instruction four days per week and one day virtual.  In-person instruction will be supported and reinforced by online learning with students physically in the school buildings four days per week – Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday.  Virtual instruction will occur on Wednesday for all PreK-4 students.

Grade 5: In-person instruction four days per week and one day virtual.  In-person instruction will be supported and reinforced by online learning with students physically in the school buildings four days per week–Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday.  Virtual instruction will occur on Wednesday for all fifth-grade students.

Fifth-grade students at E. Wilson Morrison, Hilda J. Barbour, and Leslie Fox Keyser Elementary Schools will report for in-person instruction at identified middle school buildings.  Fifth-grade students at A. S. Rhodes and Ressie Jeffries Elementary Schools will continue at their own elementary schools.  Classes will be taught by elementary teachers from their home schools.

Grades 6-12:  Students will attend in-person instruction one day per week and work remotely four days per week.  A flipped classroom model will be used where students use online instructional resources that have been assigned through the classroom learning management system.  In a flipped classroom model, students use online instructional resources that have been assigned through a learning management system.  Teachers support online learning with face-to-face instruction.  The face-to-face time is structured to include activities, practice with feedback, and collaborative tasks or projects

Teachers will support online learning with in-person instruction one day per week utilizing an A or B day schedule that is structured to include activities, practice with feedback, and collaborative tasks and projects.

Teachers will provide virtual lessons to students that are working remotely on a daily basis.  Students are encouraged to attend the virtual lesson every day that a student is not being provided with in-person instruction.

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
PreK-5 PreK-5 Remote Learning for All Students PreK-5 PreK-5
WCMS A Day WCMS B Day Remote Learning for All Students SMS A Day SMS B Day
WCHS A Day WCHS B Day Remote Learning for All Students SHS A Day SHS B Day

Full Virtual Model:

Students will participate in full-time remote learning, including both interactive, teacher-led live instruction and independent learning tasks.  Families interested in registering their child for full-time remote learning must contact their child’s school by Tuesday, August 18, 2020, to select the virtual model.

  • This virtual option is available to all students in grades pre-kindergarten through 12.
  • Students will be assigned to a WCPS teacher and receive a learning device that will enable students to access the division’s learning management systems.
  • Teachers will provide daily instruction via a learning management system so that students are provided quality instruction.
  • Teachers will also assign daily/weekly lessons through the learning management system and support students through in-person and virtual meetings.

 

School Schedules:

Daily Schedule for E. Wilson Morrison, Leslie Fox Keyser, and Ressie Jeffries

8:00 A.M.                    School day begins

1:30 P.M.                    School day ends

 

Daily Schedule for Hilda J. Barbour and A. S. Rhodes

9:00 A.M.                    School begins

2:30 P.M.                    School day ends

 

Middle and High School Schedules

9:00 A.M.                    School day begins

3:05 P.M.                    School day ends

 

High School Schedule for 2020-2021

For the 2020-2021 school year, we are going to utilize a 6 period day for the entire school year.  As we begin the year classes will be broken into two sections.   Each school will have two in-person instruction days, each section will be assigned one in-person day.  As soon as it is safe the two sections will be combined to create one in-person class that will meet together for the remainder of the year.    This change was made to make the best use of limited in-person time and to create an opportunity for daily instruction.

 

 

Mitigation Strategies – Minimizing Exposure

  • Designate six feet of spacing between desks and student seating
  • Reduce the number of students assigned to each classroom
  • Increase circulation of outside air, where possible
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces as much as possible
  • Deep clean and disinfect entire school on Wednesdays
  • Monitor arrival and dismissal of students to discourage congregate settings
  • Ensure students report directly to classrooms and designated areas
  • Designate, where possible, hallways and stairwells as one-way
  • Check the temperature of students daily as they enter school
  • Require daily health checks performed by the parent prior to coming to school
  • Require staff and students to wear face coverings at all times at the middle and high schools
  • Encourage staff and students at the elementary schools to wear face coverings while in school. Staff and students will be required to wear face coverings when physical distancing is not attainable.
  • Require frequent hand washing and utilization of hand sanitizer for all students
  • Provide hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes for all classrooms
  • Ensure students have their own learning materials and supplies
  • Reduce class interactions and hallway traffic, group gatherings and movement throughout buildings
  • Minimize exposure to other students by keeping the same groups as much as possible
  • Install water bottle filling stations are being installed in all schools
  • Limit access to schools to essential personnel and students. Parent conferences will be by appointment only. Visitors will be required to wear face coverings and submit to temperature checks.
  • Increase virtual field trips and cancel in-person field trips and assemblies to ensure there are no large gathering of students
  • Provide breakfast and lunch to elementary and middle school students in their classrooms

Transportation

  • Face coverings are required for students to ride the bus
  • The spacing of passengers, personal safety materials for operators and passengers with coverings being required of both, frequent cleaning and disinfection of buses
  • Parents/guardians are asked to not send their child(ren) to their bus stop if he/she has a fever, a cough, or shortness of breath or feels ill. This will lessen the chances of an entire bus load of children and bus driver being put at risk
  • Parents/guardians are asked to speak to their children about social distancing at bus stops. If possible, students remain in their parents’ cars until the bus arrives at the bus stop
  • When the bus arrives at the bus stop, students are to enter one at a time
  • Load to back of the bus first; unload front of the bus first
  • At schools, unload and load one bus at a time
  • Each bus will have a seating arrangement; students will sit in the same seat daily
  • There may be no more than 1 student per seat; if students are siblings or live in the same household, they may sit three to a seat
  • Students are not allowed to ride a bus home with a friend or make last-minute bus changes until further notice due to capacity rules on school buses. If riding a different bus in the afternoon than in the morning is part of a student’s regular schedule, for example riding to a caregiver’s house on a daily basis, would be allowed if there is sufficient space on the bus. This plan must be approved with the school’s principal and the Transportation Director at the beginning of the school year
  • If a bus driver suspects a student is sick when he/she enters the bus, the school will notify the parent if not at the bus stop. If the parent cannot be reached, the student will be given a face covering and socially distanced in his/her own seat at the front of the bus. The principal of the school will be notified that a possibly ill student is on the bus.  The principal and/or staff will meet the bus when it arrives at the school in order to care for any sick child
  • Buses will be sanitized after each run and at the end of the day
  • Any route changes will be communicated to parents through the school messaging system

 

Child Nutrition

  • All staff will wear face coverings and gloves during food preparation and service.
  • Grab and go breakfasts will be available at elementary, middle, and high school so students can go directly to their classroom on arrival.
  • At elementary and middle school, lunch will be served in the classroom with a teacher present.
  • Bagged lunches may be brought from home. No drop-offs of food items. If a student forgets lunch, they will be provided a school lunch for the day.
  • Visitors will not be permitted in school cafeterias.
  • Students participating in virtual learning will have the option to pick up 5-day meal packs once a week.

 

Technology

PreK – 2nd Grade:
Email applications will not be accessible by students.  Accounts will be created for Classroom and LMS accounts only.

Grades 3 – 8:
Email applications will be set to work within our WCPS domain only.  Incoming emails from sources outside of the school system’s domain will be blocked to the student’s email account.

Grades 9 – 12:
Email applications will be open for outside communication with restrictions on threats as monitored by SysCloud.

Connectivity:

Students will require high-speed internet access for virtual learning.  We recommend at least a home internet to be at least 5 Mbps per student.  If parents do not have access to high-speed internet at their homes the following options are available:

  • Available internet options:  Please check the internet options for your area.  WCPS keeps a detailed list of currently available internet services in our area.  WCPS will update this information as new services are available.
  • Wifi hotspots:  These will be available at the school library for check out.  Please note, they will not work in every area of the county.  If this option does not work, please return your hotspot to your school library.
  • Drive up hotspots.  WCPS is working on adding new hotspots in areas that have poor internet access.

 

Technology Support:

Parents may require tech support for virtual learning.  The technology department will provide support for parents regarding Chromebooks, login information, and any other school related technology needs.  These supports will include:

  • Documentation:  These may include directions on how to login into accounts, common troubleshooting tips, and standard WCPS technology practices.
  • Help Desk:  This may include contact information through web, email, and phone, support hours during both business hours and after hours.  If a tech needs to handle a device we will provide a drop off location for parents to leave the device with us for repair or device exchange.

Grading

All students will be required to complete work assignments and participate in class activities, regardless of hybrid or distance learning choice.

Teachers must be mindful of the transition back to school and the likely instructional gap/loss students may have. Varied instruction and opportunities for attaining the content must be presented for struggling learners and accelerated learners.

Participation and Attendance

Participation in school, no matter the mode of instruction, is required. Participation and attendance will be monitored.

  •   Full Virtual Model:
  • After 5 days of no interaction, school administration will attempt to make contact with the parent/guardian and develop a plan to address the issue
  • After 10 days of no interaction, school administration will refer the student to the Warren County Schools Truancy Officer
  •   Hybrid Learning:
  • After 5 unexcused absences, school administration will attempt to make contact with the parent/guardian and develop a plan to address the issue
  • After 10 unexcused absences, school administration will refer the student to the Warren County Schools Truancy Officer

 

Tracking Student Attendance in Various Instructional Delivery Models 

In-Person Remote – Online Remote – Other
Time-based Physical presence during the scheduled instructional day · Virtual presence for a synchronous online lesson

· Login time to a learning management system

· Activity log on a learning management system

· Total time log on a learning management system

· Phone call or real-time online chat

· Time-stamp for posts or submissions

· Submission of a time log

· Phone call

· Face-to-face meeting (may be an option for divisions have students come in for packet or work collection/drop-off)

Task-or Product- based Participation in classes/ submission of coursework · Participation in a synchronous online lesson

· Demonstrated evidence of engagement with peers for collaborative work

· Engagement on a discussion board

· Email exchange

· Phone call

· Submission of task or assignment

· “View” tracker for asynchronous online lesson

· Submission of task, product, or assignment

 Summary

This educational plan for Warren County Public Schools is designed with commitments to a high-quality educational experience while maintaining a safe learning and work environment for our students and staff.  Extensive work has been completed after the release of the Virginia Department of Education “Recovery, Redesign, and Restart” document.   This document provides key components and considerations for our reopening plan.   Please note that our plan may be altered due to evolving conditions and recommendations.

 

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Bentonville teen dies off Chincoteague Bay after boat capsizes, boy, 17, missing

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A Bentonville teen died, and another teen is missing after their Jon boat capsized it Saturday morning in the Chincoteague Bay, according to a media release from the Virginia Marine Resources Commission.

The incident occurred around 9:20 a.m. near Curtis Merritt Harbor at the southern end of the island. A wave apparently hit the 16-foot boat, according to Marine Police and all four people went into the water.

Cory Alles, in a social media post from August 2021.

Marine police stated that on board were two 17-year-olds, a 19-year-old and 18-year-old Corey Alles of Bentonville, VA.


A good Samaritan rescued two of the passengers near the boat, while the U.S. Coast Guard recovered the body of Alles. Officials say the 19-year-old man and one of the 17-year-olds were taken to the hospital with injuries considered non-life-threatening.

The release said that a 17-year-old male is still missing, and marine police will continue their search for him in the morning.

The U.S. Coast Guard, Virginia Marine Police, Virginia State Police, Maryland State Police, and the Chincoteague Police Department are all jointly

conducting the investigation. The families and the next of kin have been notified.

Officials declined to comment if the missing teen was from the Front Royal/Warren County area. This story will be updated as more information becomes available.

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Valley Health distributes COVID test kits to community partners in region

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At a time of high community COVID-19 positivity, Valley Health is distributing more than 150,000 free COVID-19 test kits throughout its rural service area, courtesy of the federal government.

The 2-test kits began arriving last week through a Biden Administration initiative of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), in an effort to address the needs of residents in medically underserved areas.

Valley Health operates 19 federally-designated Rural Health Clinics (RHCs) in Virginia, West Virginia, and Maryland to ease a shortage of primary medical care. HRSA’s program provides test kits through its network of RHCs to clinic staff, patients, and surrounding communities.

In addition to offering test kits to RHC staff and patients, Valley Health is distributing them to other physician practices and dozens of community agencies and organizations for use by their staff and those they serve. The distribution includes law enforcement, fire and rescue, free medical clinics, health departments, churches, and detention centers, shelters, and other congregate settings.


“We are entering our third year of caring for patients with COVID-19 and trying to protect the community from the ravages of this virus,” said Jeffrey Feit, MD, Valley Health Population and Community Health Officer. “The current Omicron variant is particularly contagious and there’s an overwhelming demand for testing. We are thrilled to be the conduit for these do-it-yourself test kits from the U.S. government to help our community take decisive steps if they are positive: isolate and protect others, and seek care if they have significant symptoms or underlying health conditions.”

Each test kit box contains two tests with clear instructions and the nasal swab and reagent needed to obtain fast, easy-to-understand results in 10 minutes. It is recommended that individuals use the second test over two to three days, with at least 24 hours and no more than 36 hours between tests.

Jason Craig, EdD, Valley Health Director of Community Health, has delivered thousands of test kits this week and learned first-hand how vital the rapid tests are for community agencies struggling to make safe decisions during the pandemic. The Salvation Army’s residential program manager, Deborah Moody, expressed her appreciation and offered insight on the value of the rapid tests to an organization trying to serve as many individuals as possible.

“We are currently running at half capacity because we were unable to know if someone was coming in with COVID and needed to isolate them for five days before releasing them into the population,” Moody explained. “This will allow us a shorter isolation time. Being the winter, it is crucial that we offer services to individuals experiencing homelessness. Thank you for helping to make that happen.”

Valley Health’s six hospitals are working on a plan to give kits to patients on discharge from the hospital, Craig added. ”We are putting them in the hands of many local family medicine and specialty care practices to help distribute throughout our communities. We want to be a good community partner and are eager to put the test kits we requested from HRSA to use for the health and safety of our friends and neighbors.” Valley Health is also asking employees to take two kits for their families and give two to a friend or neighbor “so that we can extend into the communities where our employees live,” Craig said.

Craig suggested that anyone unable to find a COVID-19 test kit through one of the practices or community organizations on Valley Health’s initial distribution effort should submit a request to receive by mail from www.covidtests.gov.

For more on Valley Health COVID-19 services and visitation guidelines, visit www.valleyhealthlink.com/coronavirus. For information on testing and return to work guidance, visit www.cdc.gov.

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Update: RSW Regional Jail – Death in Custody

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On December 12th, 2021, shortly after midnight, the R.S.W. Regional Jail contacted Warren County Emergency Medical Services and reported two male inmates unconscious and unresponsive.

EMS responded to the jail where Jonte Gerbell Smith (21) and a thirty-two-year-old male inmate were found in the condition reported. Narcan, which is an opioid antagonist, was administered to both inmates. The thirty-two-year-old male inmate responded successfully to the Narcan while Smith was unresponsive to its effects and required additional resuscitation efforts. Smith was transported to the Warren Memorial Hospital by paramedics where he was pronounced deceased by the attending physician. The other inmate was also transported to Warren Memorial Hospital, treated for an opioid overdose, and released back to R.S.W. staff to return to the jail.

Jonte Gerbell Smith

Shortly after Smith was pronounced deceased, Warren County Sheriff’s Office was promptly contacted by R.S.W. Regional Jail staff to report the suspicious death of Smith, and the treatment of the second inmate for a suspected opioid overdose.


Investigator C. Powell of the Warren County Sheriff’s Office was assigned this case and is actively investigating both the death of Smith and the overdose of the other inmate. The R.S.W. Regional Jail is cooperating fully with this investigation.

The Warren County Sheriff’s Office would like to remind everyone that this, along with any suspicious death, is a very serious matter. The Sheriff’s Office appreciates any information the public might have that would assist in this investigation.

If anyone has information concerning this case, please contact Investigator Powell at the Warren County Sheriff’s Office by dialing (540) 635-7100, and choosing option #4.

RSW Regional Jail – Death in Custody

 

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Governor Youngkin announces updated guidelines for parents, educators, and preK-12 schools

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On January 21, 2022, Governor Glenn Youngkin announced updated guidelines for parents, educators, and schools per Executive Order 2, which creates a parental opt-out from mask mandates at both public and private schools in the Commonwealth. The guidelines were developed by the Virginia Department of Health and the Department of Education.

“I have said all along that we are going to stand up for parents. Executive Order 2 is not about pro-masks versus anti-mask, it’s about empowering parents. I am confident that the Virginia Supreme Court will rule in the favor of parents, reaffirming the parental rights clearly laid out in the Virginia code § 1-240.1. In the meantime, I urge all parents to listen to their principal and trust the legal process. If you have any questions or concerns please contact us at helpeducation@governor.virginia.gov,” said Governor Glenn Youngkin.

Click here to read a full copy of guidelines from the Virginia Department of Health and the Department of Education.

Click here for the constituent services page.


The updated guidance is redesigned around Governor Youngkin’s key principles of parental rights, keeping kids in the classroom five days a week, and keeping kids safe and healthy. The update guidelines:

  • Emphasizes alternative mitigation measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19 including vaccination, distancing, and outbreak awareness.
  • Provides a clear decision tree for parents to review when trying to determine how to keep and return children to the classroom.
  • Strongly encourages test-to-stay and other strategies to keep and return kids to the classroom as quickly as possible
  • Gives schools practicable flexibility on contact tracing, distancing, and other strategies.
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School masks opt-outs change; Board briefed on counseling programs

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Students attending Warren County Public Schools (WCPS) now may be opted out of the division’s face mask mandate without citing a reason, in line with a new order issued by Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin.

The governor’s January 15 Executive Order Number Two, which takes effect on Monday, January 24, permits parents to opt-out their children from the mask requirement without stating a reason, replacing the current state policy issued by Gov. Ralph Northam allowing parents to opt-out students from any mask requirement with a religious or medical exemption.

Additionally, in lieu of Youngkin’s new order, WCPS Director of Special Services Michael Hirsch and WCPS Superintendent Christopher Ballenger provided members of the Warren County School Board, during its Wednesday, January 19 work session with the division’s updated 2021-2022 mitigation plan.

WCPS Director of Special Services Michael Hirsch provided members of the Warren County School Board, during its Wednesday, January 19 work session with the division’s updated 2021-2022 mitigation plan. Photos and video by Mike McCool, Ro


The plan remains in Phase II due to the County’s high coronavirus transmission rate and requires students, staff, and visitors to wear face coverings while inside school buildings, among other steps that may be taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19, such as social distancing.

Specifically, Ballenger discussed with board members his concerns related to staff and teacher shortages due to the ongoing pandemic. Attending Wednesday’s work session were School Board Chairwoman Kristen Pence, Vice Chairman Ralph Rinaldi, and School Board members Antoinette Funk, Andrea Lo, and Melanie Salins.

On Thursday, Ballenger issued a Parent Communication posted online — that will also be sent home to parents and guardians — stating that to adhere to Virginia law, WCPS must ensure that staff is available to provide daily in-person instruction.

“In order to meet the needs of our students, WCPS recognizes that current infection rates in Warren County could limit our ability to provide in-person instruction,” according to Ballenger’s communication. “Therefore, WCPS will remain in Phase II (masks are required for students unless they have an exemption form on file) of our mitigation plan for the next two weeks and will reevaluate phased status at the February 2, 2022, board meeting.”

Due to federal requirements, students and staff still must wear masks on school buses, Ballenger told board members. He added that WCPS will continue to check data on transmission rates to ensure the division is in the appropriate phase and plans to survey teachers and staff on whether masks should be required or encouraged for staff.

School counseling presentation
The School Board at its January 5 regular meeting voted to put on hold the Second Step Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) program curriculum in WCPS pending review after two members said parents should be made more aware of the program’s content. The vote was to temporarily suspend Second Step until parents, school administrators, teachers, the School Board, and community leaders have time to review the program’s content.

Following a review, board action can then be introduced to either continue the program, modify it, or cancel it.

During the board’s Wednesday work session, WCPS Curriculum Supervisor Heather Bragg and other WCPS staff provided such a review that included information on Second Step, which is a registered trademark of the nonprofit Committee for Children. WCPS purchased Second Step from the Committee for Children, which says on its website that the Second Step programs are research-based, teacher-informed, and classroom-tested to promote the social-emotional development, safety, and well-being of children from early learning through Grade 8.

WCPS Curriculum Supervisor Heather Bragg and other WCPS staff provided the School Board with a review the Second Step Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) program curriculum in WCPS.

Specifically, Bragg and other WCPS staff reviewed the Elementary and Middle School Standards for School Counseling Programs that included primary lessons and supplementary materials, including Second Step.

Overall, the K-12 programs, Bragg said, are designed to support the development of students’ academic, career, and personal/social development. Specifically, the academic component is designed to meet local, state, and national standards. The career development component addresses successful transitions for students from elementary to middle to high school and on to post-secondary education or the workforce, while the personal/social development component is designed to foster responsible citizens, said Bragg.

“To address the needs of all of our students, we offer teachers and staff the flexibility to choose the materials that best meet their needs,” she said, adding that each school has its own set of needs-based upon the students served by each school. Therefore, instruction is “unique and tailored” and uses a variety of materials implemented by counselors and classroom teachers, said Bragg.

Lisa Rudacille, principal at E. Wilson Morrison Elementary School, reviewed the counseling lessons provided to WCPS students, which cover topics such as working hard for success, teamwork, and building positive relationships with peers, among others. She said the school counselors’ lessons are reinforced daily by teachers since counselors provide just five counseling sessions in the elementary schools for an entire year.

Kristin Frankel, a school counselor at Ressie Jeffries Elementary School, provided information on the Second Step program, which has been available to WCPS elementary students since 2015 and is only used as a supplemental resource in the guidance classes. “So, it’s not fully implemented,” Frankel explained.

With the Second Step program comes some training videos that are provided for anyone who is going to use the curriculum, said Frankel. The program does not address all the standards needed to be covered in WCPS so counselors have to create additional lessons in order to meet those standards. Second Step is also not taught by the teachers at the elementary school level, she said.

Frankel explained that each kit for elementary students includes 20-25 lessons on grade levels K-5. The kits start on the skills for learning — for example, being respectful, focusing attention, listening, being assertive whenever asking for help — and then they move on to empathy to help students learn how to identify other people’s feelings, understand the perspectives of others, and show compassion.

Emotion management is another unit covered that includes work on calming anger, for instance. The final unit is problem-solving, Frankel said, and lessons vary depending on the grade level, such as dealing with problems on the playground or handling peer pressure.

“Since 2015, there have been no additional costs to use this program because it was a one-time cost to use this curriculum,” said Frankel.

Salins said there’s confusion about which version of Second Step is being used. She said the “most controversial” version is copyrighted 2020-2021. “Do our ES students not have access to this new material that parents are not allowed to view” because it is copyrighted material, asked Salins.

“That is correct,” answered Frankel, who said that WCPS students receive the 2015 Second Step Elementary Classroom Kits, “which are not the new digital program,” she said.

All counseling-related instruction information and materials are available online for the public and parents and guardians may schedule to meet with school counselors and principals to view any of the unit materials and lessons and have questions answered, Frankel added, and opt-out forms are also available.

Ballenger reiterated to School Board members that not every school in the division uses Second Step. For instance, Leslie Fox Keyser Elementary School doesn’t use it so parents would not receive information on accessing it, he said.

Maria Kisner, a counselor at Hilda J. Barbour Elementary School, and Raychel DeArmitt, a counselor at E. Wilson Morrison, also presented information on the other supplemental materials they use in their lessons, as did counselors from WCPS middle schools.

Parents may at any time contact their child’s school principal or classroom teacher to discuss any concerns, questions, and thoughts, or to schedule a meeting they might have regarding a lesson, standard, practice, or any other school-related topic, said Ballenger.

Click here to watch the first part of the School Board’s January 19 work session.

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Governor Youngkin announces Covid Action Plan

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RICHMOND, VIRGINIA – On January 20, 2022, Governor Glenn Youngkin announced his COVID Action Plan concurrent with Executive Order Number Eleven to provide hospitals, health systems, nursing facilities, and other healthcare providers the tools necessary to combat COVID-19. The plan also includes issuing clear testing guidelines to prioritize the use of COVID rapid tests and marshaling further resources to encourage Virginians to get the vaccine.

“While many families have experienced tragedy over the last two years, Virginians have truly embodied the spirit of Virginia as they came together to fight a common enemy—COVID-19,” said Governor Glenn Youngkin. “Today’s announcements are designed to give Virginians the tools and resources needed to make the best decisions for their families, strengthen our hospital systems, and ensure a strong recovery as we encounter new challenges associated with the pandemic that has become part of our everyday life.”

COVID-19 Vaccine Marshall Plan for Virginia

Governor Glenn Youngkin will devote additional resources and efforts to encouraging the nearly 1.6 million Virginians who are still unvaccinated to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Data shows that people vaccinated from COVID-19 are 4 times less likely to be hospitalized than those who are not. Governor Youngkin’s actions include:


  • Directing the Secretary of Health to re-prioritize resources toward vaccine education and outreach, including expanded efforts in disproportionately unvaccinated communities.
  • Plan to host and attend COVID-19 vaccine events across the Commonwealth.
  • Working with Governors across the country to learn best practices on vaccine education.
  • Empowering Virginia with choices, not mandates.
  • Expanded Healthcare Flexibility & Support

Governor Glenn Youngkin signed Executive Order #11 to give healthcare providers flexibility and support to battle staffing shortages caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and unconstitutional federal mandates on healthcare workers. Virginia’s hospitals and healthcare facilities are in crisis. Governor Youngkin’s actions include:

  • Allowing hospitals and nursing homes to rapidly expand bed capacity by waiving regulations.
  • Providing flexibility for qualified out-of-state nurses and healthcare professionals to practice in Virginia.
  • Creating appropriate exemptions to the scope of practice requirements to allow healthcare providers to care for patients in this difficult time.
  • Expanding the number of providers available to offer the Covid-19 vaccine.
  • Expanding flexibility, overtime hours, and availably for personal care workers.
  • Prioritized Testing Guidelines

Governor Glenn Youngkin will prioritize testing guidelines to mitigate supply-chain shortages for COVID-19 tests. The Governor will discourage mass testing for the purposes of pre-screening, discourage asymptomatic individuals from testing, and urge healthy individuals with mild symptoms to stay home and use discretion on testing. Governor Youngkin’s actions include:

  • Expedite pending orders of rapid tests.
  • Redeploy unused tests at state agencies and other non-essential facilities to schools, hospitals, and nursing facilities.
  • Directing the State Health Commissioner to issue new guidelines that prioritize the use of rapid tests for key categories including Students potentially exposed to COVID-19 who need to test to remain in school. Essential healthcare professionals and other essential workers needing to be tested to return to work. Vulnerable citizens including those in nursing facilities and over the age of 65. Those with serious medical conditions and their caregivers. Those who need to be tested after consultation with a healthcare provider.

Click here to read the full copy of Executive Order # 11.

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C&C's Ice Cream Shop

Code Ninjas Front Royal

Cool Techs Heating and Air

Down Home Comfort Bakery

Downtown Market

Dusty's Country Store

Edward Jones-Bret Hrbek

Family Preservation Services

Front Royal Women's Resource Center

Front Royal-Warren County Chamber of Commerce

Gourmet Delights Gifts & Framing

Green to Ground Electrical

Groups Recover Together

I Want Candy

I'm Just Me Movement

Jen Avery, REALTOR & Jenspiration, LLC

Main Street Travel

Makeover Marketing Systems

Marlow Automotive Group

Mary Carnahan Graphic Design

Mountain Trails

National Media Services

Ole Timers Antiques

Phoenix Project

Reaching Out Now

Royal Blends Nutrition

Royal Examiner

Royal Oak Bookshop

Royal Oak Computers

Royal Oak Bookshop

Royal Spice

Salvation Army

SaVida Health

Skyline Insurance

St. Luke Community Clinic

Studio Verde

The Studio-A Place for Learning

The Valley Today - The River 95.3

The Vine and Leaf

Warren Charge (Bennett's Chapel, Limeton, Asbury)

Warren County Department of Social Services

Warrior Psychotherapy Services, PLLC

What Matters & Beth Medved Waller, Inc Real Estate

White Picket Fence

Woodward House on Manor Grade

King Cartoons

Front Royal
19°
Partly Cloudy
7:25am5:23pm EST
Feels like: 19°F
Wind: 1mph E
Humidity: 76%
Pressure: 30.1"Hg
UV index: 0
MonTueWed
39/30°F
41/14°F
27/7°F

Upcoming Events

Jan
26
Wed
6:30 pm Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Jan 26 @ 6:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Bingo to support the American Cancer Society mission, organized by Relay For Life of Front Royal. Every Wednesday evening Early Bird Bingo at 6:30 p.m. Regular Bingo from 7-9:30 p.m. Food and refreshments available More[...]
Jan
28
Fri
12:30 pm Free REVIVE! Opioid Overdose and... @ ONLINE
Free REVIVE! Opioid Overdose and... @ ONLINE
Jan 28 @ 12:30 pm – 1:30 pm
Free REVIVE! Opioid Overdose and Naloxone Education @ ONLINE
Northwestern Prevention Collaborative, in conjunction with Northwestern Community Services Board, will offer a free, virtual REVIVE! Training on January 28th from 12:30 pm to 1:30 pm. The one-hour online class provides an overview of how[...]
Jan
31
Mon
3:00 pm Virtual Financial Services Workshop @ ONLINE
Virtual Financial Services Workshop @ ONLINE
Jan 31 @ 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Virtual Financial Services Workshop @ ONLINE
People Incorporated is cohosting a virtual financial services workshop for small business owners to learn about business loans, technical assistance, training, and other services provided by the agency. The workshop is scheduled for Monday, Jan.[...]
Feb
2
Wed
6:30 pm Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Feb 2 @ 6:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Bingo to support the American Cancer Society mission, organized by Relay For Life of Front Royal. Every Wednesday evening Early Bird Bingo at 6:30 p.m. Regular Bingo from 7-9:30 p.m. Food and refreshments available More[...]
Feb
4
Fri
all-day First Friday @ Downtown Main Street
First Friday @ Downtown Main Street
Feb 4 all-day
First Friday @ Downtown Main Street
Come celebrate First Friday! Downtown businesses will be open late, until 8 p.m., on the first Friday and Saturday of each month.
Feb
5
Sat
all-day First Friday @ Downtown Main Street
First Friday @ Downtown Main Street
Feb 5 all-day
First Friday @ Downtown Main Street
Come celebrate First Friday! Downtown businesses will be open late, until 8 p.m., on the first Friday and Saturday of each month.
9:00 am Women’s Wellness Workshop @ ONLINE
Women’s Wellness Workshop @ ONLINE
Feb 5 @ 9:00 am – 1:00 pm
Women's Wellness Workshop @ ONLINE
Women’s Wellness Workshop – Virtual via Zoom Webinar – Key Note Speaker Dr. Neema. Registrations will begin January 5: frontroyalwomenswellness.com
4:30 pm Astronomy for Everyone @ Sky Meadows State Park
Astronomy for Everyone @ Sky Meadows State Park
Feb 5 @ 4:30 pm – 7:30 pm
Astronomy for Everyone @ Sky Meadows State Park
Historic Area: Discover our International Dark-Sky Park! Our evenings begin with a half-hour children’s “Junior Astronomer” program, followed by a discussion about the importance of dark skies and light conservation. Then join NASA Jet Propulsion[...]
Feb
9
Wed
6:30 pm Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Feb 9 @ 6:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Bingo to support the American Cancer Society mission, organized by Relay For Life of Front Royal. Every Wednesday evening Early Bird Bingo at 6:30 p.m. Regular Bingo from 7-9:30 p.m. Food and refreshments available More[...]
Feb
12
Sat
10:00 am Winter Tree Identification Workshop @ Sky Meadows State Park
Winter Tree Identification Workshop @ Sky Meadows State Park
Feb 12 @ 10:00 am – 2:00 pm
Winter Tree Identification Workshop @ Sky Meadows State Park
Winter Tree Identification Workshop: Botany and Bloom Series Historic Area Even after the chilly breezes of autumn have stripped them of their leaves, trees provide clues to their identification by way of their bark, leaf[...]