Phase III


According to the document, Phase Guidance for Virginia Schools, Phase III guidance includes:


  • In-person instruction may be offered for all students, however physical distancing measures should be implemented.
  • Remote learning exceptions and teleworking should be options for students and staff who are at a higher risk of severe illness (as defined by the CDC).
  •  Mitigation strategies may impact operations and capacity limits. A multi-faceted instructional approach may need to be planned for Phase III.


  • Divisions should notify VDOE of their intent to deviate from the recommended health mitigation strategies in this phase through the Phase III health plan submission form. 
  • Physical distancing and other measures will remain important prevention strategies. Additional operational requirements will include measures such as gathering limits (consistent with any existing Executive Order) and other mitigation strategies. Schools should follow all guidance from the CDC to the greatest extent possible.
  •  CDC advises that individuals maintain six feet of distance to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission. The World Health Organization (WHO) advises that schools maintain a 7 distance of at least one meter (approx. three feet) between everyone present at school, and is monitoring ongoing research. Additionally, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says spacing as close as three feet may have similar benefits if students wear cloth face coverings and do not have symptoms of illness. Physical distancing is not limited to distance between children; physical distancing between adults is a key mitigation measure. In areas where the community transmission of COVID-19 is more substantial, distancing of at least 6 feet will need to be strongly considered; this guidance may be subject to change as we learn more.
  •  Therefore, in school settings, schools are encouraged to aim for six feet of physical distance to the greatest extent possible; however, if six feet of distance is not feasible (inclusive of buildings and school buses), schools should implement a combination of face coverings and a minimum of three feet distance between everyone present.
  •  Physical distance should be created between children on school buses when possible (e.g. seat children one per seat, every other row, and/or staggered, aisles and windows) limiting capacity as needed to optimize distance between passengers. If three to six feet of distance can not be maintained, wearing of face coverings is strongly encouraged and may help reduce disease transmission. Children (such as siblings) living together may sit together on the bus, and assign seating where possible. If possible given the age of students, weather conditions, etc. consider opening windows to improve ventilation.
  •  In addition to physical distancing, other distancing precautions should include, but are not limited to:
    •  Consider restricting mixing classes/groups of students.
    •  Consider closing or staggering the use of communal spaces.
    •  Consider limiting the size of groups participating in outdoor activities/recess, with a priority on physical distancing and limiting mixing of classrooms.
    •  Large school gatherings are not encouraged and limited to 250 people, per the large group gathering limitation in Phase III of Forward Virginia.
    •  For school athletics, indoor and outdoor recreational sports may occur if ten feet of physical distancing can be maintained by all instructors, participants, and spectators, with the exception of incidental contact or contact between members of the same household. This applies during instruction, practice, and during competitive events. Competition that involves close contact with other athletes must be avoided.
    •  For school athletics, the total number of attendees (including both participants and spectators) cannot exceed the lesser of 50% of the occupancy load on the certificate of occupancy, if applicable, or 250 persons. For sports played on a field, attendees are limited to 250 persons per field.
    •  This guidance is in alignment with the Forward Virginia Phase III Guidance for Recreational Sports. 


In Phase III, Hanover County Public Schools will make every effort to create social distancing of between three and six feet in schools and on busses; however, there may be instances in which this cannot be achieved. Face coverings are required in all settings in order to mitigate the spread of disease.



In Phase III, transportation may be provided to students; however, resource capacity based upon available staffing and costs may limit the number of students that can be transported. The following will be implemented:

  • Families are encouraged to transport their students to and from school.
  • Parents will complete an online opt-in form to request transportation.
  • School-to-home (home-to-school) service will be prioritized over day care transportation. Day care shuttles may require multiple trips to complete pick-up.
  •  Students will be seated one per seat. Siblings or occupants of the same household may sit together.
  •  Drivers, attendants, and students are required to wear face coverings.
  •  Drivers will clean seats and high touch areas after every route.
  •  No field trips will be permitted.


The division is currently evaluating school start and end times based upon transportation schedules, the need for bus cleaning between routes, and teacher schedules. Bus arrival and departure times will be staggered. Specific schedules will be shared at a later date.


Through CARES Act funding allocation from Hanover County and original budgeted monies in the 2020-2021 adopted budget, student devices will be procured for distribution to students in grades 3-12. A timeline for distribution will be created based upon division priorities and product availability.

In Phase III, students will either be face-to-face in their schools or participating in the Online School, accessing lessons through a variety of methods, including synchronous and asynchronous instruction. In order to support learning in this phase, the following actions will take place:

  •  Students enrolled in the Online School will be provided a device for accessing instruction. Students in grades 3-12 will receive devices as they become available.
  •  Staff will provide extended HelpDesk hours for students and staff.
  •  Division will expand wireless connectivity at some elementary school parking lots.
  •  Division will maintain inventory of student devices onsite for swapping to the extent that inventory is available.
  •  Division will continue to explore alternative connectivity strategies for families in rural areas.


In Phase III, food services must use strict mitigation strategies to provide for student breakfasts and lunches. The following will be in place:

  • Classes will be staggered to go to the cafeteria to pick up meals and eat in the classroom.
  • Staff will communicate all student allergies to the assigned teacher. Based upon severity, food restrictions may be placed upon some classes.
  •  Division staff will modify menu options for consumption in the classroom.
  •  In the cafeteria, floor markers will be used to promote social distancing and flow of student traffic.
  •  Schools will use disposable serving trays and utensils.
  •  Staff will serve food to students using a no-touch approach, as much as possible.
  •  Students will verbally give the cashier their account number or name.
  •  Staff will ensure frequent disinfectant wipe downs of high touch areas during meal service.
  •  Schools may use separate meal carts spaced out and used in the cafeteria, where possible.
  •  Students will not be permitted to share food.
  •  Students and staff will be required to practice handwashing or hand sanitizing before and after meal periods.
  •  Schools will utilize sneeze guards at point of sale location.


In Phase III, the facilities at all schools will be reconfigured to promote health mitigation strategies and efficient cleaning. While the division will make every effort to create social distancing at the 3-6 foot range, there may be locations within buildings where that cannot be fully accomplished. The following will be implemented:

  • Floor markers for social distancing and directional markers in halls and common areas will be installed.
  •  Hand sanitizing stations will be placed throughout school.
  •  Sneeze guards and plexiglass barriers will be installed as appropriate.
  •  Water fountains will be disabled or marked as “no use.” Bottle filler stations will be operational.
  •  Custodial services will ensure utilized spaces have an inventory of cleaning supplies to be used by all staff throughout the day.
  •  Staff will be trained to clean high-touch areas throughout the day.
  •  Custodial services will ensure emphasized cleaning for occupied spaces. Visual cleaning reminders will be posted.
  •  Some bathroom fixtures will be marked for “no use” to encourage social distancing (for example, only every other sink will be in use.).
  •  Doors will be propped open where possible to limit touch. Exterior doors must be monitored when open.
  •  Only licensed daycare facilities may use schools for programming.
  •  Facility use will only be allowed for parking lots.
  •  Staff will plan for increased parent vehicular traffic on site for student drop-off and pick-up.
  •  No volunteers or visitors will be permitted without an appointment.



During Phase III, all students are permitted on site for face-to-face instruction. In this framework, parents can opt to enroll their students in a full Online School should they not wish to send their students to their assigned school. New instruction and recovery strategies will continue in order to support student learning in both instructional model options. Student accountability will also continue.

Both instructional options will follow parallel pacing, schedules, and calendars so that students who wish to change options between semesters can do so seamlessly. Both options will have limitations in terms of structure and course offerings based upon staffing and logistic limitations. Additional information on the two models can be found later in this document. Overall plans for each level include:

 High School:

  •  Each school will create a schedule to serve students in a modified 4x4 schedule, in which students will take four classes each semester, rather than eight classes all year long.
  •  Some course offerings and electives may not be available for student choice.
  •  Staff is considering modifications needed for some classes/programs.
  •  Vulnerable learners will receive additional supports according to need.

 Middle School:

  •  Each school will create a schedule to serve students using a team approach, in which students will be clustered with peers served by a team of teachers.
  •  The instructional focus will be on the four core areas with significant push-in collaboration with elective teachers.
  •  Students will be able to elect one elective for the first semester.
  •  Vulnerable learners will receive additional supports according to need.

Elementary School:

  • Each school will create a schedule to serve students using a classroom approach, in which students will be clustered with peers served primarily by a single teacher.
  • The instructional focus will be on the four core areas with significant push-in collaboration with resource teachers to cover appropriate standards for art, music, physical education, and library.
  • Vulnerable learners will receive additional supports according to need.


Professional learning is critical regardless of phase or instructional framework. Recognizing that all staff must attend to a wide array of challenges and opportunities for the upcoming school year and beyond, the division is offering professional learning opportunities in the following areas:

  • Behavior management, classroom management, and de-escalation: Even prior to the closure of schools in Spring 2020, HCPS had identified student behavior as an area for growth and had begun developing professional learning around this topic. With the disruption to the learning community and the uncertainty related to COVID-19, staff must be equipped to proactively manage classroom behaviors, teach appropriate behaviors, and build a strong sense of community in the classroom.
  • Instructional planning: During the 2019-2020 academic year, the division began work to enhance teachers’ instructional planning skills by introducing John Hattie’s work around visible learning. This work centers around making learning intentions and success criteria clear to students. In the upcoming year, this work takes on greater urgency across all learning environments. Students and teachers alike must be able to articulate the what, why, and how of the content so that streamlined instruction can take place in introducing new learning and recovering any learning gaps from the prior year.
  • Blended learning: Staff has created numerous modules for teachers across the division to increase skills in creating blended learning opportunities for students. The work in this area is needed to support instruction both in the face-to-face and online instructional environments.
  • Social-Emotional learning and mental health awareness: Teachers will receive training on signs of mental health issues in order to best support students. Additionally, the county has purchased a K-12 social-emotional learning curriculum. On-going professional learning on implementation will be provided.
  • Diversity, inclusion, and equity: The division is collaborating with Virginia Centers for Inclusive Communities to bring professional learning to staff on culturally responsive teaching and other areas related to racial equity. This builds on early work conducted by the division.


As Hanover County Public Schools moves from the planning stage into implementation, the division will be providing significant resources for teachers to use in their instructional planning. These resources may be specific to grade level, content area, or instructional model. The following list of topics for guidance prepared by the division should not be considered exhaustive:

  • Pacing Guides: recommendations for length of time needed on each unit of study, connections to past learning, connections to future learning, and strategies for remote learning
  • Streamlining Tools: criteria to prioritize emphasis within a given course or unit based upon relationship to future learning, Profile of a Hanover Graduate skill development, and needs of current students
  •  Assessment and Grading Guidelines
  •  Remote Learning Strategies
  •  High-Yield Blended Learning Strategies
  •  Social-Emotional Learning Strategies
  •  Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain (Z. Hammond work)
  • Recovery Strategies: recommendations for building in “just-in-time” assessments of prior learning needed for the upcoming unit, providing scaffolded supports, and monitoring progress
  •  Intervention Strategies
  •  Planning for Work-Based Learning Opportunities


As schools begin a new academic year, Hanover County Public Schools recognizes that its most vulnerable learners may return with increased learning gaps over their peers. In order to provide an equitable learning experience, deliberate supports and strategies will be developed and implemented in all phases. In Phase III, students will elect to receive instruction in either a face-to-face setting at their assigned school or an Online School. More specific information regarding the support of online students can be found in the Instructional Model section later in this document. For the students who elect face-to-face learning, many of the decisions related to support should be made at the individual student level; however, the following considerations are provided:

  • Students with disabilities will be served according to their IEPs. 
  • English language learners should be served with push-in instruction to the greatest extent possible. Careful structures must be considered to ensure a strong school-home partnership given that language barriers may exist.
  • Take-home resources and manipulatives should be provided if needed to support students in practice opportunities at home.
  • Schools should promote increased family engagement strategies to work collaboratively in meeting learning needs. Materials for parents and caregivers on strategies for monitoring and supporting learning at home will be made available.
  • Attendance issues need to be addressed swiftly as transitions between phases may occur suddenly. Schools will develop and implement attendance supports using a core group of employees.
  • Schools and teachers will design and implement enrichment and extension activities within given units for gifted students.
  • Classroom teachers will employ appropriate recovery strategies embedded in core instruction and available as additional interventions. On-going progress monitoring will inform instructional decisions.


In all phases, teachers and other staff must be able to assess student needs to begin recovery strategies in tandem with new learning. The following strategies will be utilized by staff:

Fall Screenings at Elementary: Staff will continue to use PALS, VKRP, Fountas and Pinnell BAS, and an HCPS math screener in the fall to identify student skill level.

 “In-the-Moment” Screening: Throughout the division, at all grade levels, teachers will be using running records, division-led assessments, and other teacher-based assessments to capture information about student skill and knowledge acquisition in advance of teaching new content. These in-the-moment snapshots will focus on prior knowledge and core skills necessary to engage in new learning.

 Recovery Strategies: With differentiated learning approaches, such as Math Workshop and a balanced literacy approach, student learning activities will match student needs in order to build in recovery learning. Additionally, students whose skill deficits are more pronounced will be assigned to interventions to receive more targeted opportunities to build skills in addition to the work during core instruction. 

 Progress Monitoring: Teachers and their teams will continuously review student data on formative assessments to measure the progress of individual students and plan for appropriate recovery strategies.

 Summer 2021: The division will create a summer program to continue to serve students whose learning gaps persist. The scope of these programs will be determined based upon need and division capacity.


In Phase III, all athletic and extra-curricular activities require division approval. The following guidelines ensure alignment with the Hanover County Public Schools Health Plan. Should modifications be made to that plan, guidelines for these activities may also change. 

  • Coaches must complete health and safety training prior to any activity.
  • All schools will follow VHSL guidelines for Phase III out-of-season practices and competitions.
  • Athletic activities should take place outdoors, whenever possible.
  • Online School students are eligible to participate provided that they meet all VHSL eligibility requirements. Parents must provide transportation for practice.
  • Coaches will develop individual plans for students to return to satisfactory physical condition. 
  • As all athletic activities must have administrative oversight, work schedules for Directors of Student Activities may be staggered. 
  • For spectator participation, all aspects of the Governor’s Executive Order will be followed.
  • Both the division and individual schools must take into consideration impacts on athletic budgets related to increased costs for transportation, reduction/elimination of gate receipts, and reduction/elimination of concession revenue.


The task force team for social-emotional wellness created a set of recommendations for staff to use in implementing universal supports for all supporting students, employees, and families and providing more specific interventions for those who need them. For Phase III, students will be learning either in a face-to-face environment or an online one. While the supports themselves may be implemented differently in the two settings, the following are important considerations.

  •  Schools must develop a school-based team for social-emotional wellness that can provide resources and supports for students and families.
  •  School schedules should provide specific opportunities for social-emotional learning, developing cultural competency, cultural awareness, and community building.
  • Clear expectations for teaching and learning must be communicated.
  •  Communication approaches must meet the needs of all stakeholders and be consistent.
  • Results from universal screenings for social-emotional wellness should be used to provide on-going support and interventions utilizing social workers, psychologists, school counselors, and other trained staff.
  • Schools should have protocols in place to engage with all families, with particular emphasis on those needing additional social-emotional supports or those identified as vulnerable learners.
  • Schools should provide activities and strategies for students and families to support the transition back to full-time schooling.
  • Schools should provide links to resources to students and families to outside mental health resources, as needed.
  • Schools should provide parents and other caregivers with strategies on helping students develop the necessary skills for working remotely (resiliency, time management, and independence) should the need arise in the future.
  • School administrators, faculty, and staff should receive training on Mental Health First Aid in order to support the social/emotional wellbeing of students.
  • School administrators, faculty, and staff should participate in professional learning that focuses on cultural responsiveness, cultural awareness and cultural competency to include topics such as anti-racism and racial equality in order to create an inclusive learning environment.
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