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A student uses a laptop computer [Photo: Stafford County Public Schools]
Since the pandemic's start, when school divisions shuttered buildings in favor of learning online from home, students have relied more on Chromebooks to complete in-class assignments and homework.

Starting this year, Stafford County Public Schools students in 7th grade will receive a new Chromebook to keep through 12th grade. Chief Technology Officer jay Cooke said the pilot program would pair students with a hefty device, more significant than what the school division distributed in past years.

The students will keep their devices, including over summer break. If a student damages the device, the school division will issue a smaller replacement Chromebook until someone can fix the original unit, said Cooke.

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University of Mary Washington [Photo: Univesity of Mary Washington Facebook page]
The University of Mary Washington and Germanna Community College signed an agreement that creates a fast track to earning college business degrees in the Fredericksburg region.

The pathway program allows students to complete an associate’s and a bachelor’s degree online in about two-and-a-half years, saving time and money.

The ultra-accelerated route provided by the two schools starts with Germanna’s “College Everywhere” program, which allows students to earn a two-year associate’s degree remotely in just 12 months. Those who transfer to UMW can then finish the major in business administration, also online, within an additional 18 months.

UMW will offer online accelerated Business classes this fall. Students meet the admission requirements stated in the agreement, a minimum GPA of 2.75 and a Business Admin degree completion. They will be offered guaranteed admission.

UMW is scheduling at least one section of all the required core courses and selecting electives to run in a compressed, eight-week online format.

Students used to take two classes at a time every five weeks at Germanna and would take two classes at a time every eight weeks at UMW, plus a single 16-week course.

Completing at UMW takes four semesters, including summer, for someone coming in with the full 60-credit Business Administration degree.

If a student finishes their Associates in the spring, they can take UMW classes that summer, fall, spring, and finish the next summer. In some cases, the completion time is slightly under 18 months. The classes are the same, taught by the same faculty with the same content. The degree is the same AACSB-accredited B.S. in Business Administration.

“We encourage all students to complete their associate’s degree from Germanna first. This will save them time and money,” said Germanna spokesman Micheal Zitz. “The fast-track business program is available to all Business Administration majors at UMW. However, without the completed associate degree, there may not be the same guarantee to finish at UMW in 18 months.”

Germanna Community College serves as the community college for the Fredericksburg region. The school has five campuses and a virtual option.

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Wilson, Jr.

A teacher who works at Rippon Middle School and lives at a nearby elementary school faces a weapons charge.

The suspect lives in an apartment at Covington Harper Elementary School near Dumfries, about six miles from Rippon Middle School, and had guns and ammunition inside the apartment, sources said.

Administrators at Covington Harper Elementary School were tipped to the weapons by a resident near the school. A postal employee dropped a package addressed to the school at the neighbor’s house. The neighbor opened the package to find ammunition and took the package to the school.

Police said they searched the suspect’s at-school apartment and found guns and accessories on Tuesday, August 9. Police confiscated the weapons, which the suspect never brandished on school property.

Robert Wilson Jr., 37, is charged with possessing a firearm on school grounds, police said.

Wilson, Jr. is on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.

Most public schools in Prince William County School have someone living inside. Security residents are typically school teachers who work for the county school division, said spokeswoman Diana Gulotta.

The residents monitor the school grounds for alarms and respond to after-hours emergencies.

“For example, if there is a power issue or water leak, the school security resident would proactively alert the Division. Additionally, the school security resident performs routine security checks of the building,” said Gulotta.

Prince William County law enforcement officers may also be school security residents.

Gulotta said residents receive a background check and other specialized training.

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Reporter Julie Carey of WRC-TV interviews Stafford County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Thomas Taylor. [Photo: Uriah Kiser]
The Stafford County Public Schools Superintendent said a convocation ceremony on Friday, August 5, should have been an event to unify and excite teachers and school employees for the new year.

"We were not successful," said Dr. Thomas Taylor on Tuesday, August 9, during a School Board meeting on Tuesday, August 9, on the eve of the first day of the new school year.

Over 80 people fell ill due to excessive heat during the Virginia Credit Union Stadium event in Fredericksburg. Emergency crews took at least eight people to a hospital with heat exhaustion.

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Students at Rodney Thompson Middle School in Stafford County [Photo: Stafford County Public Schools]
Students at public schools across our region today, including Stafford County and Manassas City, are headed back to class.

Manassas will welcome back 7,600 students at five elementary schools, two intermediate schools, one middle school, and one high school.

It’s the first time in two years that students will return to schools without facemask or social distancing requirements due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Meanwhile, in Stafford County, teachers are welcoming back students from all grade levels for the division’s first official day of school. Yesterday, kindergarten, sixth, and ninth-grade students were welcomed to their respective schools to learn the layout, meet up with friends, and attend a pep rally during the division’s first “transition day.”

It’s the first time Schools Superintendent Dr. Thomas Taylor welcomed the division’s more than 31,000 children to class on the first day of school since he took the job in December 2021. Taylor also enrolled his two children in the school division after moving to the area from Chesterfield County.

During a Stafford County School Board meeting on Tuesday, August 9, members remarked that it had been years since a sitting superintendent had children enrolled in the system.

Schools in Spotsylvania County also reopened today, welcoming back about 24,000 students, while Fredericksburg City Public Schools reopened to more than 3,500 students.

School divisions across the region are facing shortages of teachers and bus drivers.

Prince William County Public Schools, the state’s second-largest division, hired 900 new teachers for the new school year. The division is short 300 teachers, states Superintendent Dr. LaTanya McDade.

Prince William County Public Schools reopen on August 22, welcoming back more than 90,000 students.

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Summer has come to an end for Stafford County Public Schools students.

On Tuesday, August 9, students in kindergarten, sixth, and ninth grades will head to school on what the division calls its first-ever transition day.

The non-instructional day will allow students in transitional grade levels to learn the layout of their new school buildings, meet their teachers, and reconnect with friends.

It will also allow bus drivers to drive their new routes with children on the school buses. Last year, the school division, like so many across the region, was plagued by bus driver shortages which led to delays, children walking long distances to and from school, and an influx of parents driving children to school.

On Wednesday, August 10, all students will head back to class on what the division considers its first school day of the year.

Stafford County is the second school division in the region to send children back to class. Children in Fredericksburg Public Schools returned to class today.

The school year is off to a rocky start for more than 80 Stafford County Public Schools employees who sickened during a convocation event at the Virginia Credit Union Stadium, home of the Fredericksburg Nationals, on Friday, August 5.

Emergency crews took eight people suffering from heat exhaustion to a local hospital. The school division required its 4,300 employees to attend the event.

Fredericksburg Nationals General Manager Nick Hall told Potomac Local News the conference was the largest private event to be held at the stadium since it opened the last year.

High school students will begin their day at 7:30 a.m and dismiss at 2 p.m. Middle school students will start at 9:30 a.m. and dismiss at 4:20 p.m.

The school division said it would provide free and reduced lunches for all qualifying students. The school division will also offer more time for high school students to eat lunch. In addition to eating, students may use the additional time to seek help from advisors.

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McDade

Following their annual performance review of the Superintendent, on June 12, 2022, the Prince William County School Board voted to approve a one-year extension of Prince William County Public Schools (PWCS) Superintendent Dr. LaTanya D. McDade’s four-year contract, with a revised contract end date of June 30, 2026.

“The contract extension unanimously approved by the School Board is an affirmation of the exceptional leadership of Dr. McDade. Following a tumultuous period in PWCS she has brought clarity, vision, and a steadfast focus on improving teaching and learning,” said Prince William County School Board Chairman At-Large Dr. Babur Lateef. “Public education is at an inflection point in history, the pandemic has left its mark on our students’ learning and wellbeing. Dr. McDade is the right person, at the right time, to ensure our students, teachers, employees, families, and community accelerate our work together to achieve the educational outcomes that every child deserves.”

During her first 100 days, Dr. McDade visited all 100 schools and conducted hundreds of listening sessions with teachers, students, families, business and community leaders, and employees. During her first seven months in office, she launched Vision 2025, Launching Thriving Futures.

This four-year Strategic Plan serves as a framework for ensuring every student in Prince William County graduates with the knowledge, skills, and habits of mind to create a thriving future for themselves and their community. In the spring of 2022, the School Board approved the largest budget in a generation funding the key priorities outlined in the Strategic Plan.

Dr. LaTanya D. McDade was appointed July 1, 2021, as the Superintendent for Prince William County Public Schools, which is the second-largest Division in Virginia and serves more than 90,000 students. She is the first woman and first African American to serve as Superintendent of the School Division.

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[Updated 1:45 p.m] Teachers, school bus drivers, cafeteria workers, and administrators packed Virginia Credit Union Stadium today for the Stafford County Public Schools Convocation.

Instead of Fredericksburg Nationals baseball fans, a standing-room-only crowd cheered as school bands and cheerleaders took to the field to energize school employees two days before the start of the 2022-23 school year on Tuesday, August 9.

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Manassas Public Schools will host a community resource fair on Saturday, August 6, 2022.

The fair will be held from 8 a.m. to noon at Osbourn High School and feature more than 30 community partners providing much-needed resources to families.

Students will also be able to receive required vaccines, including the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), tetanus, Diptheria, pertussis (Tdap), and Meningococcal Conjugate (MenACWY).

Students are required to be up to date on their Tdap and Meningococcal vaccines for school enrollment.

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