Isle of Wight County Schools

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Coronavirus Update

On Friday, November 13, Governor Northam announced changes to face mask requirements for all Virginians.  The new mandate now requires a face mask to be worn in schools, even if individuals are spaced six feet apart.    To comply with the new measure, beginning Thursday, November 18, all Isle of Wight County Schools' students and staff will be required to wear a face covering while in a school building.  Masks are not required to be worn outside or during PE class if proper distancing can be maintained.
Many students are already electing to keep their masks on when they are indoors.  Schools are working with teachers to schedule "mask breaks," which will allow students to remove their masks for brief periods of time.  We realize this change may be a bit challenging for some of our learners, but are confident they will do well with this new procedure, just like they have done before.
Thank you to all of our employees, students, and families who have been adhering to the safety measures we have in place.  Because of your commitment, incidences of cases in our schools remain low.  While there are individuals who have tested positive for the virus, our mitigation practices have prevented others from contracting the virus through school.

We are hopeful that continuing our current practices and expanding the mask requirement from the Governor will help keep our schools open and safe for our students and staff. Our students need to be in school, even with the restrictions in place, and we thank you and everyone in the community for helping us make it happen.

Isle of Wight County Schools has created a document to answer many of the questions asked by parents about the reopening of schools.  The document will be frequently updated as new information becomes available.  If you have a question that is not answered through the document, you can submit your question through the Contact Us link at the top of the page.
(Updated November 18, 2020)
Isle of Wight County Schools has released the Return to Learn plan for the 2020-2021 school year.  The plan outlines instructional models for the year, along with additional information such as safety measures in response to COVID-19.





A message to parents and employees from Dr. Jim Thornton, Superintendent


August 24, 2020


“At a time when you can be anything, be kind.”


Thursday, August 13 marked exactly 5 months since the Governor of Virginia closed schools throughout the Commonwealth for two weeks due to rising cases of COVID-19.  When the announcement happened on March 13, we were devastated—our schools had NEVER experienced something like this.  No other event had kept IWCS buildings closed for this length of time.  We were confident we would be allowed to return once the two weeks were up.  The two weeks turned into the rest of the 2019-2020 school year.  Certainly we would be able to return in the fall, back to the way things were before March 13, right?


That answer is clearly, and painfully, No.


The School Board approved a plan to allow Pre-K through third grade students to return to school for the first nine weeks on a hybrid schedule, with a virtual option for all grade levels. 


There are people who are not happy with the board’s decision, and they have shared their displeasure with us.  Parents have concerns about childcare, how their student will learn on a non-traditional schedule, and whether their child will be able to socialize with their friends.


We empathize with parents and their struggles.  I can assure you that we would like nothing more than to have school go back to the way it was before March 13.  But we cannot with the current restrictions in place.  Even in Phase 3, we are still required to implement physical distancing which does not allow all of our students to return to school at the same time.  The board elected to ease back into in-person learning with a hybrid schedule for our PreK-grade 3 students and certain groups of students with disabilities.  These students are those most in need of face to face instruction.  And it will give us a chance to see how a return to in-person learning with a smaller number of students. 


This means that all students in grades 4-12 are participating in some form of remote learning to start the school year.  Whether temporary remote, or virtual, students will not be returning to their schools, at least for the first nine weeks for the temporary remote students.  We are not experts in virtual learning.  Our teachers are experienced and successful with traditional face to face instruction.  That’s what they know and what they do best. Now, they have spent countless hours over the summer, and will spend more time when they return in August, to become proficient with online instruction while still carrying out in person learning with the new safety measures.  All of this has happened in response to the health crisis.


This is not a model we want to be implementing.  We want to have all of our students back in the buildings to work with them in person, to celebrate their successes with high fives and hug them when they need it.  Students routinely sit in groups, play together at recess, eat lunch together, and share supplies with each other.  Physically distancing has not been the norm for in-person learning.


My point is that everyone has been impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.  There are obvious concerns for families with members who have health issues and are at a higher risk for serious repercussions if they contract the virus.  We also have parents who are facing an economic hardship related to changes in their employment, or additional costs due to their children not being back in school full time.  Teachers have revamped how they teach in order to support a variety of models their students may be using—hybrid, remote, or virtual. 


People are anxious about the unknown.  They are unhappy, scared, angry, concerned, worried, and upset over the current situation.  Every one of these emotions is valid.  The COVID-19 crisis is not anyone’s “fault” and we need to be careful about how we express our emotions, especially in front of children.   I ask you to think about some other qualities we need to demonstrate during this difficult time—kindness, understanding, patience, and compassion.  I know it may not be easy, but I encourage you to show empathy to others.  We don’t know what our friends and neighbors are dealing with and the issues they are facing. 


Isle of Wight is a county of very proud individuals, many who may be struggling like never before.  Isle of Wight is also a county that looks out for each other.  When this crisis first occurred, we saw acts of kindness from all corners of our community.  I’m sure many of you put the well-being of others before yourself.  It’s what you do, especially those of you who are front line workers.  I’m sure you are tired and in desperate need of a break.  I want nothing more for all of us.  Until that can happen, please hang in there, take care of each other, and above all, be kind.  We will get through this together and emerge a stronger community for it.

Thank you.


Jim Thornton, Ed.D.



IWCS Technology Help Desk:  757-542-3222 
Live Support Monday through Friday from 8:00 am--4:30 pm
IWCS Uses Buses with Free WiFi to Increase Internet Access for Families
Isle of Wight County Schools has stationed four school buses at areas throughout the county to provide an additional resource for families who may not have internet access at home.  The buses are located at the Otelia Rainey Center in Camptown, Bethany Presbyterian Church in Zuni, First Gravel Hill Baptist Church in Smithfield, and the Carrollton Cove Shoppes in Carrollton.  The buses will be parked in these locations through the end of the current academic year.  The hope is that families can use these hot spots to download assignments for their children that can be worked on at home. 
In addition to the buses, all nine schools in the division have a wireless signal accessible from their parking lots.  IWCS created a flyer that identifies the location of the buses and schools, as well as other options for free WiFi throughout the county.
IWCS Coronavirus Communications
Don't Miss Out on Important Information
You can update your Connect 5 contact information to ensure you are receiving announcements from IWCS and your child's school.  The instructions below will walk you through the steps to set up your Parent Portal account.  If you already have an account, you can login and make changes to your contact information.