Commissioner Outlines Plans for Public School Students, Teachers for School Year 2019-2020

Education Commissioner nominee Racquel Berry-Benjamin testifies before the Senate Committee on Education and Workforce Development Wednesday. (Photo by Barry Leerdam for the V.I. Legislature)
Commissioner of Education Racquel Berry-Benjamin. (File photo)

Commissioner of Education Racquel Berry-Benjamin has outlined the plans for the remainder of the school year. To ensure that student absences related to COVID-19 do not negatively impact student achievement, the Board of Education has suspended its retention and promotion policies for the 2019-2020 School Year, given that certain conditions are met. To read the complete draft of the Board of Education’s resolution, visit www.vide.vi.

What Does This Mean for Students?

The V.I. Department of Education has re-structured the 2019-2020 school year to comprise a total of three marking periods instead of four.

Students’ overall final averages will be calculated using only final averages from the 1st, 2nd and 3rd marking periods. The 4th marking period will not be included in the calculation.

An average of 70 percent earned by March 17, 2020, is the required passing minimum grade for all students, as established by the V.I. Board of Education.

The 4th marking period is from March 23 to June 4, 2020.

Secondary and Elementary students – with a 70 percent average or higher by March 17, 2020

Students who have already earned a passing grade of at least 70 percent in the 3rd marking period may use the 4th marking period to enhance their 3rd marking period grade

Secondary Students – with less than 70 percent average by March 17, 2020

Students with a failing 3rd marking period grade may replace that grade with a passing grade earned in the 4th marking period

Students who failed a first semester course(s) should contact their guidance counselor to create a plan to recover the credit(s)

Elementary Students – with less than 70 percent average by March 17, 2020

Students with a failing 1st, 2nd or 3rd marking period grade who earn a passing grade in the 4th marking period may replace the lowest grade in any of the three previous marking periods

Distribution of Electronics, Online Learning and Final Exams

A distribution schedule for laptops and internet devices for students in need of these items has been created (items are being loaned to students, not given to them permanently)

Priority will be given to 12th grade students who have earned less than a 70 percent average by March 17, 2020 and are in need of the technology devices.

The items will further be distributed to students who need them, from Grade 11 downward, with an average of less than 70 percent.

Students who have met the 70 percent GPA requirement as of March 17, but who wish to improve their grade and are in need of the technology devices, will be the last group to receive the electronics. A comprehensive distribution schedule for eligible students will be announced and posted on the Department’s website and Facebook page.

In an effort to allow all students the opportunity to improve their grades, whether they are passing or not, or using technology provided by the Department of Education or through their own means, the online educational platforms of Edmentum, Acellus and iReady will remain available for all public-school students to access until the end of the school year. Students must complete assignments on these platforms required by their teachers.

No final exams will be administered for the 2019-2020 SY

Career and Technical Education, Night School and Adult Learners

The National Academy Foundation, which provides industry certification for students in the Hospitality and Tourism, Health Sciences and Finance Academies, has informed the Department that credit will be given, by default, to all CTE students who were actively enrolled in the academies as of March 17, 2020.

Construction pathway students who receive industry certification from the National Center for Construction Education and Research will receive certification for the 2019-2020 SY upon the completed input of data from their teachers.

Students enrolled in night school and/or the Raphael O. Wheatley Skills Center are governed by the aforementioned 70 percent GPA requirement set by the V.I. Board of Education.

Adult Education students who have successfully passed their GED examination will receive a high school diploma.

Deadlines, Summer Enrichment and Credit Recovery

Students have until Friday, April 24, 2020, to submit completed assignments from the work packets they received on March 17, 2020. Students are required to take a photo of their completed work and email it to their teacher.

The Department of Education will be offering summer enrichment and credit recovery opportunities for students during the summer months. These will likely be done remotely.

Spring Break

School-based personnel will be on Spring Break from April 27 to May 1, 2020. Remote teaching will be fully suspended during this period, as well as breakfast and lunch distributions across the two districts. Teachers will resume remote instruction on Monday, May 4. Breakfast and lunch distributions will also resume on that date.

Last Day of School and Graduations

The last day of school for the 2019-2020 SY will be June 4, 2020.

The Department is exploring various options for graduations, including virtual graduations. Graduation committees have been formed in each district to spearhead those efforts.

For regular updates on V.I. Department of Education activities, visit www.vide.vi or the Facebook page. The Department will also continue to provide regular updates through press briefings and radio appearances. Contact the V.I. Department of Education by emailing [email protected].