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Important Information for Educator Preparation Students

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  • TO:                 Student Completing Field Experiences and/or

                           Internships in Mason’s Educator Preparation Programs

    FROM:           Roberto A. Pamas, Ed.D

                           Director, TeacherTRACK @ Mason

    RE.:                Update (as of 3/23/2020) from TeacherTRACK @ Mason regarding Field Experience

                           and Internship:

    We know that there are many questions that you may have regarding the requirements for and associated opportunities to complete your field experience and internship. It is my hope that this communication will provide you with information that can answer some of your questions, as the situation remains very dynamic. I am confident that there soon will be additional information and greater clarity.

    As the Coronavirus Crisis continues to unfold, as it’s a rapidly changing situation, we will provide updates with information as issues become more well defined, and decisions are made both by the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) and the School Divisions of the Commonwealth, as well as by our university. Some issues remain ambiguous and uncertain as school divisions continue to monitor the context and consider if, or when, classes will continue during the spring semester.

    However, despite the ambiguities (that we cannot control) we remain confident that our students who are in the midst of field experience and/or internship will either be able to complete the state’s requirements, or the state will grant exceptions so that you will complete your degree and the requirements for your Virginia license. However, now is time for patience as the public health crisis continues to evolve and as we seek further clarity from the state and decisions are made by the Commonwealth and Virginia’s school divisions.

    Please check regularly for updates that will be sent in addition to the frequently asked questions below.

    FAQs:

    • Will I be able to graduate in May and qualify for a Virginia license with only completing part of my internship?

    We are in close and regular contact with Virginia Department of Education about this and are advocating for modifications that will allow you to still meet the requirements for successful completion of field experience and/or internship. We are confident that the state will be flexible and will formulate an approach for the waiving of some requirements

    We advise you to log and maintain a record of your overall direct/indirect hours completed, as well as the number of weeks of field experience and/or internship completed, prior to the closure of schools in response to the Coronavirus Crisis.  In addition, we also advise you to document and log the following: 1) total number of virtual hours instruction to PK-12 students that you have completed since the closure of schools, 2) practicum experiences prior to field experience and/or internship, and 3) total number of hours supporting and/or participating in distance learning with mentor teachers.

    • Licensure Testing: Since most testing centers have closed; what guidance and/or flexibility can the Virginia Department of Education provide for students who cannot take their required exams for Virginia licensure?

    The Virginia Department of Education is aware of and is considering this issue. They will provide specific guidance in the near future.

    • What will happen if school districts remain closed for the remainder of the 2019 – 2020 academic year?

    Mason: University instructors and supervisors will provide additional guidance and/or alternative learning assignments to meet Mason’s required course objectives.

    School Districts: We are in close contact with all partner school divisions to advocate for your participation in any remote learning and/or online programs as part of your field experience and/or internship that may begin in their schools as a means to support your continued learning needs. 

    For example, for students completing field experiences and/or internships in the Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS), FCPS recently (3/20) provided this commitment:

    “While we have no way to predict how the days ahead will unfold, FCPS is prioritizing the safety of its students, employees and community. At this point, FCPS has not yet enacted a distance learning plan, however; in the event FCPS does move toward a distance learning model, (Mason) student teachers should have access to FCPS 24-7 (Blackboard), the platform that would be used for distance learning.”

    • How will this pandemic impact your job search with school districts?

    Mason: You should stay in close contact with Mason’s Career Services to continue exploring employment opportunities as they become known and more information is available. Indeed, we are confident, and fully anticipate, that school divisions will identify mechanisms for the recruitment, selection and hiring of teachers, and other personnel, for academic year 2020 – 2021.

    School Districts: We will update you as we receive information from school divisions.  Most recently, for example, Fairfax County Public Schools (3/20) announced that they have “already offered several recruitment contracts for teaching assignments this coming fall” and will continue to interview for expected openings. We understand that other school divisions also soon will continue their recruitment and hiring initiatives. Additional information will be forthcoming.

    Some Final Thoughts

    It is suggested, and encouraged, that you stay in close contact with your mentor teacher and university supervisor. If there are questions that they cannot provide answers for you, do not hesitate to contact me, Dr. Roberto Pamas, Director of TeacherTRACK @ Mason at: rpamas@gmu.edu .

    While we are dependent upon Virginia Department of Education policies and associated regulations, as well as local school division guidelines and practices, which might at times slow our efforts in getting information to you, we will continue to share information as it becomes available related to the impact of the Coronavirus Crisis on your academic program and learning needs, state regulations governing the requirements for licensure, school division practices and associated career opportunities.

    In the meantime, as best as you can, please take time to care for yourselves and your family.

    All the best – stay safe, healthy and well.