January 18, 2021
The Richmond Region League of United Latin American Citizens Council 4614 would like to share with the RPS School Board, our support of the teachers, parents and community members who have raised concern with in-person testing for English Language Learners despite the board voting to continue with all virtual learning. By now we hope board members are aware that the Latino population has been disproportionately affected by the virus so taking every measure possible to keep families out of danger is critical.
We do not agree with any students being tested in person while the division remains in all virtual learning during the COVID 19 pandemic. We are specifically concerned with in person testing for those students designated to take the WIDA screening assessment. In TESTING MEMO 1442 (AUGUST 19, 2020) the Virginia Department of Education allowed for students to be provided EL services under the temporary identification of Presumptive EL. Under this identification schools can wait to test these students when schools physically reopen. We believe that in person testing of these students puts them and their families in harm's way and ignores the option for schools to postpone in person testing. Our Council is aware of how testing is tied to funding and supports RPS's work to get all possible funding available to educate its students but we do not believe any dollar amount is worth losing a life.
We urge the board to request a thorough presentation on the Presumptive EL classification, Verified English Learner Updates and funding changes noted on Page 2 of the 2021 Legislative Advocacy Updated (January 19, 2021) by the administrative team.
We urge the board to request a presentation on the EL Enrollment and its process, testing, and how services are being provided during virtual learning.
We urge the board to reinforce expectations on school principals to not invite students back to the buildings for matters that are not urgent. If it is necessary to distribute gift cards, school materials, or food we ask that the school division do the contact less methods us much as possible.
Signed, Deanna Fierro President of Richmond Region LULAC Council 4614