Understanding SOLs in 2020-2021

The Standards of Learning (SOL) for Virginia Public Schools establish minimum expectations for what students should know and be able to do at the end of each grade or course in English, mathematics, science, history/social science and other subjects. Typically, SOL test results are among the multiple performance indicators used to determine whether schools are accredited by the Virginia Department of Education (state accreditation).  


How will SOLs affect school accreditation this year?

State Accreditation

Due to COVID-19 and the impact on instruction, the Virginia Department of Education will not use SOL test scores from 2020-21 to determine a school’s state accreditation status for the next school year. The state has waived accreditation ratings for the 2021-22 school year.

Federal Accreditation

How SOL test scores from this year will be used in the federal accountability process is yet to be determined.

Currently, federal accountability measures are still in place. At this time, the Virginia Department of Education is in the process of preparing a submission for a waiver related to federal accountability and data reporting.

How do SOL test data help my school?

SOL data are an essential part of federal and state accountability. It helps the state, school divisions, schools, and teachers monitor student learning and identify gaps in performance.

School Improvement Grants are available to schools identified under federal accountability as needing extra assistance to meet performance goals. The Virginia Department of Education, in cooperation with the United States Department of Education, funds intervention strategies for students in targeted subgroups (for example, students with disabilities or economically disadvantaged students) in the areas of reading and/or math through these grants.

In 2020-2021, the Henrico schools identified for extra financial support to reach federal targets are Elko MS, Fairfield MS, Glen Lea ES, John Rolfe MS, Laburnum ES, and Wilder MS.

How do SOL test data help my child?

SOL results help assure parents and schools that students have mastered minimum expectations for the grade level. It can inform individual interventions. In most cases, the decision not to participate in these SOL tests will not negatively impact your child.

In some cases, however, SOL tests are needed for students to earn verified credits to meet graduation requirements. If a parent or student refuses to participate in SOL tests needed to earn these verified credits, a student's ability to graduate may be affected. Students intending to graduate in June 2021 must complete the required testing to meet these requirements before the end of the school year if they have not already earned the required verified credits. If students intend to graduate after June 2021, they may choose to be tested during the next school year, 2021-22.

Where can I learn more?

Learn more about the state and federal testing requirements, the indicators used to accredit schools, and what to expect if your school doesn't meet the standards: https://vapta.org/advocacy/adv2/advocacy-webinars

Learn more about which Henrico Schools are accredited or receiving funds to reach accreditation: https://www.doe.virginia.gov/statistics_reports/accreditation_federal_reports/federal_accountability/index.shtml

For specific questions related to your child, please reach out to your child’s school.

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Henrico County Council PTA works to ensure all children have access to high-quality education in a safe and healthy learning environment. We support HCPS’s commitment to providing the tools that teachers and school administrators agree are needed to support a strong instructional model for virtual, blended, or in-person instruction.

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Identifying Needs

The HCPS administration currently hosts meetings with principals and the central school leadership team at a minimum of once a week. Before November, these meetings were at a minimum of twice per week. Principals share teacher feedback and requests for items needed to support instruction at these meetings, which have been ongoing throughout the summer and fall. In addition, the division’s school level directors have met with their principals individually to garner feedback.


Based on these ongoing communications between schools and HCPS, items such as additional monitors and desk shields have been purchased for all schools and specific items based on individual school needs.

Purchases Made

The table below (provided by HCPS Administration) includes a comprehensive list of items purchased by the division as well as delivery status as of November 18, 2020

Items Provided or Awaiting Delivery


* Delivery dates are subject to change. Please check with your principal for current information.

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Future Needs

HCC PTA encourages local unit PTA leaders to work with your parents, teachers, and principals to identify any additional tools needed to provide a strong instructional model. Ask your principal to bring these requests to HCPS. Keep HCC PTA and School Board members apprised of your school’s requests.


The HCPS administration has identified the following items as needs for select schools:

  • Bottled Water to have on hand since water fountains will be closed. Many schools do have touchless hydration stations for filling water bottles during the day. Approximately 4 bottles per student per week.

  • Touchless Hydration Stations. Approximately 2 per school for schools without these stations.


The county may be limited in fulfilling certain funding requests. In such cases, the HCPS administration will prioritize funding based on the greatest need. For example, some schools may need to secure outdoor learning spaces with greater priority than others based on school capacity or school design.


We ask PTAs to partner with your school principal and use your best discretion as to whether advocacy, soliciting donations, or fundraising is the best solution for your community.


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Return to School FAQ (OLD)


Is the recent HCPS Student Household Questionnaire binding?

No. The HCPS questionnaire open from October 5-11 is not binding. However, HCPS will rely greatly on next week’s responses for planning purposes. Source: Student Household Questionnaire Oct 5-11

How will the questionnaire results be used?

The Student Household Questionnaire will assist in planning for the second nine weeks by asking students and families to indicate their current thoughts regarding returning to school buildings in November (when the second nine weeks begins).

HCC PTA commentary: The teacher and family questionnaires are not a vote for in-person or virtual learning. Its purpose is to collect data that will be used to determine the number of teachers needed and transportation required to meet student demand for in-person learning under the HCPS COVID-19 Health Plan and risk-mitigation strategies. HCPS will then determine which in-person options are feasible.

Source: Student Household Questionnaire Oct 5-11

What is the timeline for making decisions on returning to in-person instruction?

The questionnaire closes on October 11. On October 22, the Henrico County School Board will review the latest recommendations from the HCPS Health Committee and determine the approach to learning for the second nine weeks of school, which begins on November 16. Update: During the Oct 8 School Board Work Session, it was announced that HCPS hopes to issue a Family Intent Form between Oct 23-27 (dates are subject to shift). Source: Student Household Questionnaire Oct 5-11

What factors will HCPS be considering when making a recommendation on October 22?

HCPS has stated that any recommendation for changing the current model for student learning will prioritize health, safety, strong academics, and programmatic continuity.

Transitioning from a predominantly virtual approach to a hybrid approach will depend on several criteria. These include the Virginia Department of Health’s “Community Transmission and Data Trends for the Central Region,” combined with the data available for Henrico County, to determine when to shift to a hybrid approach to learning. The Virginia Department of Health determines a current “burden level” for coronavirus conditions, based on three factors: the case incidence rate per 100,000, the PCR (polymerase chain reaction) percent positivity, and the outbreaks per 100,000 (as well as the trends associated with these three metrics.)

Prior to recommending a shift in approach, HCPS will determine:

  • That the necessary personal protective equipment is available to ensure the health and safety of staff and students.
  • That the supply chain can sustain a four-week supply of PPE in schools.
  • Whether staff members affirm that the HCPS COVID-19 Health Plan and risk-mitigation strategies are playing out effectively in HCPS classrooms.
  • How a given recommendation will affect daily attendance rates.
  • Employee and community confidence in the return to in-person learning.
Source: HCPS’ Health Update webpage


How frequently might my child’s in-person class/school be asked to switch back to virtual?

For those returning to in-person learning, if at any point there is a known COVID-19 exposure, your child (and/or your child’s class) may be asked to quarantine at home and participate in virtual learning for up to 14 days. Any decision to close schools or reduce the size of in-person classes due to COVID-19 will be made in collaboration with the local health department. Factors that could trigger virtual instruction for a school(s) include the number of students and staff diagnosed with COVID-19 within a school or across the school division. PTA commentary: The trigger number or percentage is not defined in the guidelines. Visit HCPS’ health update page for a list of schools where an HCPS employee reported positive for COVID-19 by date: https://henricoschools.us/healthupdate/ External factors, such as a regression of phases designated by the Governor or an increase in confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Henrico County and/or the region, can cause division closures. External factors, such as a regression of phases designated by the Governor or an increase in confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Henrico County and/or the region, can cause division closures. Sources: Student Household Questionnaire Oct 5-11; HCPS COVID-19 Health Plan (Page 6, Section D)

Will students have the same amount of teacher-led instructional time if they are in-person compared to today?

The addition of increased in-person learning opportunities could impact the amount of teacher-led vs. independent virtual learning, compared to the current predominantly virtual model. Decisions required to elaborate on the impact have not been made at this time.

Source: Student Household Questionnaire Oct 5-11

Will virtual learners have a dedicated virtual teacher or will teachers be teaching both online and virtually?

These decisions have not been made. Analysis of the questionnaire data will help HCPS in providing answers. Statements that assume an answer to these questions are based on speculation. PTA commentary: Neighboring counties have required teachers to provide instruction to both in-person and virtual students at the same time. It is reasonable to conclude HCPS may consider this option. During the summer, the HCPS School Board seemed inclined to support teachers focusing solely on in-person or virtual instruction in its hybrid proposals. However, conditions have changed in that students have been assigned teachers and a return to school is likely to have classes with students that opt to remain virtual and students that opt to return in-person. Sources for commentary: Sample of neighboring county plan; See comments during summer School Board Work Sessions.

Will my child have to switch teachers?

Maybe. The addition of increased in-person learning opportunities could result in changes to a student’s currently assigned teacher for either a virtual student or an in-person student. HCPS will do its best to keep schedules and teachers the same. It will work to keep students and staff connected to their assigned schools, whether it is for virtual or in-person learning. Source: Student Household Questionnaire Oct 5-11

Safety Protocols

How will students be screened each day?

Families will be expected to monitor their child(ren)’s health and keep any child(ren) at home if symptoms of potential COVID-19 infection are present. There will be random temperature checks during the school day.

Source: HCPS COVID-19 Health Plan (Page 8; Section A.2)

What distancing guidelines will be used?

Classrooms will be limited in occupancy to support the physical distancing of at least 3 feet to the greatest extent possible.

HCC PTA commentary: The full guidance, such as how to enforce the policy and possible exemptions, has not been provided.

Source: HCPS COVID-19 Health Plan (Page 6; Section E)

Will all students be required to wear masks?

Consistent and correct use of masks will be required of all students, staff, and guests (as developmentally feasible).

HCC PTA commentary: The full guidance, such as how to enforce the policy and possible exemptions, has not been provided.

Sources: VDH Interim Guidance for Mitigation Measures in K-12 School Settings and HCPS COVID-19 Health Plan (Page 6; Section D)

What happens if a sick child goes to school?

A designated health isolation room will be identified within each school building, with care provided by trained personnel. If a student shows signs of illness while at school, school nurses will conduct health assessments in the health isolation area. The health isolation room will be used to separate individuals who have symptoms of COVID-19 from those seeking other services, such as medication administration, wound care, etc. Parents will be required to immediately pick up students who are sick.

HCC PTA understands this to mean that students with symptoms that overlap with COVID-19 may be in the isolation room with students later found to have COVID-19. Isolation rooms should follow mitigating measures to prevent disease spread within the enclosed space.

Source: HCPS COVID-19 Health Plan (Page 4; Section H.3)

Will HCPS require employees to be tested for COVID-19? If so, who pays?

HCPS will inform the employee whether the division will use a symptom-based or test-based strategy. This determination will be made based on local health care and testing circumstances.

The symptom-based strategy excludes an employee from returning to work until at least three days (72 hours) have passed since recovery. Recovery is defined as resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications AND improvement in respiratory symptoms AND the passage of at least 10 days since symptoms first appeared.

The test-based strategy excludes an employee from returning to work until resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications, AND improvement in respiratory symptoms, AND negative results of an FDA Emergency Use Authorized COVID-19 molecular assay for detection of SARSCoV-2 RNA from at least two consecutive respiratory specimens collected ≥24 hours apart (a total of two negative specimens).

HCPS shall not require its employees to pay for the cost of COVID-19 testing for determinations of return to work.

Source: HCPS COVID-19 Health Plan (Page 11; Section G)

Will HCPS require students to be tested for COVID-19 after known exposure before returning?

HCPS states that exposed individuals may be asked to quarantine at home and participate in virtual learning for up to 14 days.

This aligns with the Virginia Department of Health guidance, which states “if you had close contact with a person who has been diagnosed with COVID-19, self-quarantine (stay home) and monitor your health for symptoms of COVID-19 for 14 days after your last contact. If you test negative during your quarantine period, you will still need to complete your full 14-day quarantine before it is safe to go back to work or be around others.”

As always, any student or staff experiencing fevers—for any reason—should remain home until they are fever-free for a full 24 hours.

Source: Student Household Questionnaire Oct 5-11 and Virignia Department of Health COVID-19 Local Exposure webpage

If one child is exposed to COVID-19 at school, will my other children have to stay home?

Yes. Families will be expected keep any child(ren) at home if someone in their household is under quarantine/self-isolation.

Source: HCPS COVID-19 Health Plan (Page 8; Section A.2)

How will contact tracing be done?

Trained school nurses will collaborate and facilitate contact tracing with the Virginia Department of Health and other public health partners. Anyone who was in the building and may have been exposed* to the confirmed positive person within the previous 14 days will be notified within 24 hours of receiving a positive report.

On Oct. 8, during the Health Committee Update, HCPS defined “exposure” to be the same as the Virginia Department of Health definition of “close contact” -- “being within 6 feet of a person who has COVID-19 for at least 15 minutes.”

HCPS will communicate with the administrative staff, HCPS Department of Facilities and division leadership to coordinate class rosters, in-depth cleaning, and school community notifications.

Exposed individuals may be asked to quarantine at home and participate in virtual learning for up to 14 days.

Source: HCPS COVID-19 Health Plan (Pages 3 and 4; Section F.3,4 and H.2) and Virginia Department of Health COVID-19 Local Exposure webpage

Will the schools have appropriate PPE?

Yes. At the September 24 Health Committee update, HCPS reported it has received enough PPE for students and staff to return to school. Orders are placed regularly so HCPS can maintain its inventory of PPE. Based on expected usage, there is enough PPE to last through winter break. This includes n95 masks for nurses, gloves, and cleaning supplies. Source: See video at the 9:08 mark

The following answers were compiled by Henrico County Council PTA (HCC PTA) to answer frequently asked questions based on a review of Henrico County Public Schools’ (HCPS) publicly available materials as of October 7, 2020.


All HCC PTA commentary is stated as such and designated through the use of italics. Further questions should be directed to HCPS via healthplan@henrico.k12.va.us