Re-opening schools
Posted on 07/22/2020
Chalkboard that says re-opening schools
Roanoke City Public Schools is holding Mobile Enrollment Events next week for new families. Here are the details:


Wednesday, August 5- William Fleming High School 10 a.m. - 12 noon

Friday, August 7- Fairview Elementary School 10 a.m. - 12 noon

To complete enrollment, please bring proof of residence and the original copy of your child's birth certificate. Interpreters will be available. Your child will receive:

Immunizations on-site (if needed)
Completed enrollment, if necessary documents are presented.

If you have any questions about the requirements, please call (540) 853-2090

Answers to FAQ Aug 3.docx If you are unable to download this document, the questions and answers are also available below.  

Here is the Power Point Presentation for the proposed Re-opening School Plan:  RCPS Ten Point Plan.pptx

Thank you for participating in our Virtual Town Hall about the proposed Re-Opening Schools Plan.  Click here to watch the Virtual Town Hall

Click here to provide feedback

Based on your feedback, Roanoke City Public Schools has put together videos to answer some of your questions.

The first video highlights health screenings, cleaning, classroom set up, and meals. 




Please watch this video for a brief overview of our Virtual Academy (Canvas).



This is an overview of Canvas for secondary schools


Here is an overview of Canvas at the elementary level


What will Transportation look like?  Take a look at this video.


This video highlights our Virtual Academy (Canvas) for pre-school students



On July 14, 2020, the Roanoke City School Board amended the 2020-2021 School Year Calendar.  The first day of school for students is Monday, August, 31, 2020.

Click here for the 2020-2021 School Year Calendar

Helpful links:

Centers for Disease Control

Virginia Department of Health

Virginia Department of Education's Return to School Plan

7/28/20 UPDATE:  

Here are the latest answers to the latest FAQs

Infrastructure

Why the staggered start and dismissal times?

In order to social distance on a bus, an average of only 20 students can ride at any given time.  RCPS also transports Pre-K (full-time, AM ½ day, and PM ½ day), Special Education, ROTEC, Governor’s School, along with other regional programs.

Which elementary schools are 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. and which ones at 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.?

To be determined based on the parent/guardian intent and considering the aforementioned information

How many students will be in the classroom? 

Depends on room size, social distancing guidelines (6’ or 3’ with face covering), desks or tables, etc

How far will each desk be placed?

At least three feet apart, possibly more based on space

Will students switch classes? 

Yes, at the middle and high schools.  RCPS is working with architects to develop the best possible routes for transitions.  Because social distancing will be limited, students will have to wear masks in the hallways.  Students will be given reasonable accommodations based on disability, developmental, and medical needs of the individual. 

How often will the school be cleaned? 

Daily and often. 

Will there be after school activities for the middle school? 

Depends upon the school, activity, administrator, etc.

Health & Safety

Will face masks be provided to staff and students? 

Yes

Do you expect students to wear a face mask all day? 

No.  Students will be allowed to remove their face masks when outside, and in the classroom as long as 6 ft of distance is being maintained.

To clarify, no masks if students are 6 feet apart?

Face coverings should be worn be all students who are developmentally and medically appropriate. If the student is in a classroom where the distance is less than 6 feet then they are required to wear a face covering. When students are in a classroom or outside and can maintain physical or social distancing of six feet or more, than the student will be allowed to remove their mask. When students are in transition, they will be required to wear their face coverings.

How will the mask requirement be enforced?

Staff will talk with the student and educate the student on the requirement, offer a mask, or send to the nurse, counselor, or administrator. 

Parents/guardians will be notified regarding any student(s) who will not comply with the directive after being educated on the requirement to wear a face covering.

RCPS staff will work with students refusing to wear face coverings through progressive discipline procedures.  Education on wearing face coverings will be essential.  Staff will consider individual needs of students including any developmental or medical needs.  Parents/guardians will be contacted and involved in the progressive discipline and education process.

Are specific types of masks required?

Students will be provided with a face covering if they need one.  

Face coverings should be cloth and adhere to the student code of conduct for school appropriateness. 

If my student is medically fragile, do parents/guardians need to provide a doctor’s note?

We do not require a doctor’s note.  We do strongly suggest that any families with medically fragile or at-risk students speak with their doctor about what is the safest option for that child.  If your student has an IEP or 504 Plan, RCPS will convene the IEP or 504 team to develop an appropriate plan for the student.  In addition, you can discuss your questions or concerns with the Executive Director of Special Education, Hayley Poland. You can email her at hpoland@rcps.info or call (540) 853-2468.

Can a child wear a face shield in lieu of a mask?

CDC Guidelines on Face Shields:  It is not known if face shields provide any benefit as source control to protect others from the spray of respiratory particles.  CDC does not recommend use of face shields for normal everyday activities or as a substitute for cloth face coverings.  Some people may choose to use a face shield when sustained close contact with other people is expected.  If face shields are used without a mask, they should wrap around the sides of the wearer’s face and extend to below the chin. 

What if my student will not wear a mask due to sensory issues.  Will a face shield be acceptable?

Yes, if appropriate based on developmental/medical needs.  The CDC recommends cloth face coverings. Students will be given reasonable accommodations based on disability, developmental, and medical needs of the individual. 

How will RCPS determine the difference between a student who cannot wear a mask due to medical or sensory issues and those who just don’t want to wear a mask?

Individual needs of students will be addressed by the 504 or IEP teams.  Developmental and medical needs of the student will be addressed and accommodations will be provided.

Are parents/kids required to tell their school if they test positive?

Yes, screening protocols include questions that asks if the student has been exposed to someone being tested for COVID-19 and if any member of their household is on quarantine for exposed to COVID-19.

Will COVID testing be available through the school nurse’s office?

NO, individuals will be referred to a health care provider or the VA Department of Health.

Will parents/guardians be notified if a staff member or students tests positive for COVID-19 while attending in-person instruction?

We will strictly follow VDH guidelines regarding notification of families in the event there is a student or staff member that has tested positive for COVID-19.  If there is a positive case in a class, RCPS will notify parents/guardians.  We cannot and will not identify the person who is infected with COVID. 

Are teachers being screened daily?

Yes.

Can students bring hand sanitizer to school?

Hand sanitizer will be in multiple locations throughout every school.  Yes, they can bring it, if used appropriately. 

Can students/staff use water fountains at school?

No.  The District will provide bottled water.

Curriculum

What does Virtual Academy look like?

In the RCPS Virtual Academy, students will learn primarily at home or an alternative location chosen by the family where they have internet access.  This asynchronous (any time) learning will occur through the Canvas online learning management system without regularly scheduled real-time interaction.  The student will log onto a computer to take classes and access content, assignments, and assessments. 

Who is actually teaching the Virtual Academy classes?

RCPS teachers will be providing high-quality, rigorous instruction in the virtual environment.

For the Virtual Academy (Canvas), will the teacher provide live instruction?

No.  Instruction will be asynchronous.  However, Virtual Academy teachers will be accessible to students during regular office hours to answer questions and provide other assistance as needed.

Will the Virtual Academy (Canvas) be synchronous (same time) or asynchronous (any time) instruction?

The Virtual Academy (Canvas) will be primarily asynchronous.  RCPS learned a lot of lessons about virtual learning last Spring.  Parents expressed concern that they were not always available to ensure that their students were online with the teacher for synchronous (same time) learning.  Students were often in daycare during normal school hours or providing childcare for younger siblings.  Families did not have the bandwidth available to use a video communications tool, such as Zoom, to meet with teachers in real time.  Technical difficulties like spotty internet, crashing hard drives, and dying batteries happened regularly.  We learned that synchronous learning unrealistic for most of our families.  The most consistent positive feedback was given when teachers consistently provided instructional videos, pre-recorded podcasts, and self-directed activities from linked websites.  However, for some high school courses that are only taught by one particular teacher, we may need to have synchronous instruction.

Is it the same teacher for in-person instruction and virtually?

This will vary from school to school and course to course.

Why can’t a teacher record the lesson and post it online for the Virtual Academy?

The in-person teachers will maintain a daily presence in Canvas for students who may miss a day of school, but they will not be taping their daily lessons.  This is not considered best practice in an asynchronous virtual instructional environment.  It is suggested that videos be short – less than 10 minutes – and include stopping points when students may check their understanding.  If teachers recorded their lessons, there would be a lot of down time in the video that would result in students losing interest and motivation.

Will attendance be taken in-person and virtually?

Yes.

For the Virtual Academy (Canvas), do students have to participate during school hours?

Students may set their own hours.  Courses will be asynchronous.  Students will be required to log on daily and complete assignments and assessments.  Courses will follow the same pacing as those students who are receiving instruction in-person.

How many hours each day should we expect our students to spend on school if they attend the Virtual Academy?

Elementary students should expect 1-2 hours a day of online instruction, middle school students 2-3 hours, and high school students 3-4 hours.  They may spend additional time doing assignments, reading, or studying at their own pace.

What will Virtual Friday look like?

Virtual Fridays will include opportunities for tutorials and enrichment in small groups or during individual office hours.  Students will be expected to complete assignments, as well.

If parents/guardians choose the Virtual Academy (Canvas), will my student receive a computer?

All students will have access to RCPS computers if needed.

If parents/guardians opt for in-person instruction, can students switch to online instruction at any time?

Yes.

If parents/guardians choose the Virtual Academy (Canvas), can they switch to in-person instruction after the first nine weeks?

This may be possible depending upon social distancing mandates and space available.

Since the courses in the Virtual Academy (Canvas) are asynchronous, how can students receive additional assistance?

Students may email the instructor or meet with the instructor on Microsoft Teams, which is like Zoom, during office hours.  In addition, the instructor may determine through regular assessment that there are small groups of students who may need additional assistance on particular concepts.  This will be done on an individual basis.

How will assistance be given to students who are not doing well in the virtual environment?

In addition to small group or individual tutorials on MS Teams, we have community partners who have offered to meet regularly with small groups of students to provide support by monitoring and keeping students focused.  This will be done on an individual basis. 

Will AP and dual enrollment courses be offered both in-person and in the Virtual Academy (Virtual)?

Yes, as long as we have enough students, both in-person and in the Virtual Academy (Canvas), to create a class.  If we have a class that is only taught by one teacher, we will make sure that all students have access to the class, whether the teacher is in-person or in the Virtual Academy.

Will all classes be available in both in-person and virtual?

That is our intention.  However, they may be modified due to social distancing requirements for in-person students and due to the nature of the virtual environment for Virtual Academy students.  This includes fine arts and PE classes, as well as classes that are differentiated for all student levels.

Will an online student get a separate school supply list?

We are developing a separate school supply list for Virtual Academy students.

How will classes with labs work?

For students who are attending in-person, labs will be done individually so that social distancing may be maintained.  For those students who are attending the Virtual Academy, labs may take place in a number of ways.  Teachers may provide a demonstration video and give students directions to complete the lab if the materials for the lab are readily available.  Labs may also be done virtually through different web-based programs or websites.  For example, a program called Froguts gives users the ability to virtually dissect a bullfrog, a cow eye, a starfish, a fetal pig, an owl pellet, as well as explore a Mendelian Pea experiment and observe fruit flies.

How will grades be handled for Virtual Academy?

Students will complete assignments and assessments in the virtual environment that will be graded.

Will there still be Physical Education and Art classes in-person?

Yes.

If a student chooses the Virtual Academy (Canvas), can they still participate in sports and other after school activities?

Yes.

As a parent, I am considering the Virtual Academy (Canvas) for my first grader.  Will the younger students have instruction online, or will they have those large paper packets?

They will be provided with instruction online.

In elementary schools, will specials teachers be on carts, rotating classrooms, or will the students travel to a different room?

At this time, we believe that specials teachers will move to different classrooms or provide virtual lessons for which the classrooms or provide virtual lessons for which the classroom teacher acts as a proctor. 

What will Orientation look like for new students?

This has not been determined at this point.

Can classes be held outside?

Yes.  If a teacher wants to teach his/her class outside, they may (as long as it is not raining).

How many classes will high school students take?  Will those classes follow an A Day and B Day pattern?  Will the high schools offer Zero Period classes?

Students will take a full load of classes.  The current plan is for Monday and Wednesday to follow an A-day schedule and Tuesday and Thursday to follow a B-day schedule.  Friday will be a C-day in which they will be working on assignments for all classes, if required by the teacher.  The decision whether to offer a zero period has not been made at this time.

When are the high school graduations?

June 11, 2020

For my senior, will his online curriculum satisfy graduation requirements for an advanced diploma?

Yes.

How will driver’s education be taught?

We will not be able to offer driver’s education as a component to Health 10 in the Virtual Academy.  It will be only be available in-person.

At elementary schools, will rooms like gymnasiums/music/art rooms be converted into classrooms to help with social distancing?

If necessary, yes.

How will in-person PE classes be taught?

PE classes will be focusing on individual sports or activities.  Spacing will be at a minimum of 10 feet between students.  There will be no equipment or minimal equipment used.  All equipment will be cleaned between every student use.

Will there be recess?

Yes

Can students use the playground?

Students may participate on open field play, but they may not use the playground equipment.

What about SATs?

SATs will be given at the discretion of the College Board.  We will follow the direction of the College Board.

How will PALS be done virtually?

The PALS Office and VDOE are actively working together to address how virtual instruction options will impact PALS testing.  They seek to develop options that can serve schools and students, while also yielding data that are useful and informative.  We expect more information will be coming and will share what we know when we are able.

How will substitute teachers be screened?

They will be screened in the same manner as all visitors.

Special Education

Will IEPs need revisions to include virtual learning?

IEPs will be amended to reflect the instructional plan and the services determined appropriate for the individual student in collaboration with the parent.

How will IEP and 504s work for students in the Virtual Academy?

IEP and 504 teams will be to review accommodations based on the learning environment the student will be participating in for the 2020-2021 school year. The student’s team will review progress and make additional amendments to their individual plan if needed throughout the year.

We have a child with Autism who has fallen back since schools closed. What type of help will students receive to help them catch up in-person?

The IEP team will collect data after the student returns to the instructional environment for the team to determine what recovery supports and services, if any, are required for the student.

How will Special Education be handed Virtually?

Prior to the beginning of the school year, IEPs will be amended to reflect the individual educational program for the student after the instructional plan is approved by the School Board. Goals, accommodations and services will be reviewed and developed by the team support the student in the virtual academy.

Attendance

Can students attend in person for core classes only?

No.

If a student starts the year by attending school in-person and decides to transition to virtual, how will that happen?

The parent/guardian would need to discuss this with the school administrator.  The student would remain in the same courses on Canvas.  While we have not had experience with the transition, we are determined it would be smooth.

Would an in-person student who is quarantined be able to switch to the Virtual Academy (Canvas)?

Yes.  The courses in the Virtual Academy (Canvas) are aligned with the same curriculum and pacing guides as the in-person classes.

Technology

Will students receive school laptops to use at home?

Students who need a school laptop will be able to check one out from their home school.  Laptops and checkout forms will be available at the schools two weeks prior to the first day of school.

What discounted internet services are available through Cox Communications?

Cox Communications provides a discounted service for households without a recent Cox Internet account.  The program is called Connect2Compete.  The program is free for the first two months and continues at $9.95 per month.  For full details, please visit http://www.cox.com/c2c. 

How will RCPS help families that do not qualify for Cox’s Connect2Complete?

RCPS will address these situations on a case-by-case basis.  Please contact the Department of Technology at (540) 853-6070 for assistance.

Food

Where will students eat breakfast and lunch?

In the classroom.

Will students be required to wear masks while eating?

No.

If a student participates in the Virtual Academy (Canvas), can they still receive breakfast and lunch from the school?  Will you deliver food by bus?

Students participating in the Virtual Academy (Canvas) may sign up online or at the school to pick up 5 breakfast meals and 5 lunch meals once per week at designated locations.  There is no cost to students whose home school participates in the Community Eligibility Provision.

Also, students may take home a breakfast meal and lunch meal on Thursdays for virtual Fridays.  

Transportation 

Will students be required to wear the mask on the bus?

Yes. 

What is the maximum amount of students on a bus?

26 (one student per seat) on our largest bus unless there are family members riding together, thus increasing the number 

How often will the buses be cleaned?

Each bus will be cleaned after each run.  The buses will receive a thorough cleaning after each morning and afternoon route.

What will boarding the bus look like?

The bus will be filled with students from the back to the front.  There will be one student per seat.  In one row, a student will sit at the window.  In the next row, a student will sit in the aisle. 

Will the bus driver be required to wear a mask?

Yes, when students board the bus.  Since the first row will remain empty, the driver can remove their mask while driving. 

Will there be dividers/barriers on buses?

State law will not allow dividers/barriers on school buses.

7/21/20 UPDATE:

Thank you for the more than 2,000 responses so far.  The Return to School Intent forms are now available in four languages:

Click here for Return to School Intent Form (English Version)

Click here for Return to School Intent Form (Spanish Version)

Click here for Return to School Intent Form (Swahili Version)

Click here for Return to School Intent Form (Farsi Version)


We realize you may have other questions.  To that end, this Thursday night, July 23rd, Roanoke City Public Schools will hold a Virtual Town Hall Meeting for the community.  It will take place from 6:30 to 8 p.m.  We will use the Microsoft Teams platform because it allows up to ten thousand users at once.  Click here for the link to the Virtual Town Hall

You don’t have to download any software.  We will try to answer as many questions as time allows.  We strongly suggest you submit questions in advance by emailing us at townhall@rcps.info.  You will also have the opportunity to ask questions during the virtual town hall meeting. 

We hope you can join us Thursday night at 6:30 p.m. 



7/20/20 UPDATE:

Last Tuesday, the Transition and Restoration Task Force presented a Re-Opening Schools Plan to the School Board for its consideration.  The proposed plan gives parents choices.  Students can participate 100% virtually or in-person four days a week.  Roanoke City Public Schools now needs parents and guardians to confirm plans for each student. 

Click here for Return to School Intent Form (English Version)

Click here for Return to School Intent Form (Spanish Version)

Click here for Return to School Intent Form (Swahili Version)

Click here for Return to School Intent Form (Farsi Version)

If you don't know your child's ID, please check a recent report card or call your child's school.  Please complete the form by Tuesday, July 28. 

Paper copies are available at each school.  If you experience an issue, technical support is available from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.  Please call 853-1000.  


7/14/20 UPDATE:

Tuesday evening (7/14), the Transition and Restoration Task Force presented a re-opening plan for consideration to the School Board. Thank you to all the parents and employees who completed our surveys.  This plan was developed based on the results of the two surveys, as well as guidelines from the CDC, the Virginia Department of Health, and Virginia’s Department of Education.

The proposed plan gives parents choices.  Students can participate 100% virtually or in-person four days a week.  If the plan is approved:

Schools would be open Monday thru Thursday.  Fridays would be 100% virtually for everyone.

Due to the vast transportation needs of our students, start and dismissal times will have to be adjusted.  9 elementary schools would go from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., 8 elementary schools would be from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.  High Schools would be in session 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., middle schools would be from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Teachers and students will need to wear face masks.  There will be exceptions for those who are medically fragile.

Temperatures will be checked before students get on the bus or enter the school building. 

That is a brief overview.  Here is the proposal:   RCPS Ten Point Plan.pptx  We acknowledge there are many opinions, questions, and concerns about this proposal.  The School Board took no action on the proposal.  However, the board voted to amend the school year calendar.  Teachers will now report to work August 18.  The first day for students moves to August 31. 

Beginning next week, all parents will need to register their students and tell us whether your child will attend in person or virtually.  We will follow up with an additional robo call once registration is ready.


7/7/20 UPDATE:

The Transition and Restoration Task Force met today and will meet again Friday.  Just this week, we received additional guidance from the Department of Education about re-opening schools.  The Task Force plans to update the School Board next week.  The Board is then expected to vote on a plan the last week of July.  We want to thank the more than 8,000 parents who completed the survey about the re-opening of schools.  Our staff has until Thursday night (7/9) to complete its own survey.  Please check your email for the survey.  Students, parents, staff, and community members can continue to provide written feedback.  Click here


Dear Parents and Guardians,

We need your help.  The Transition and Restoration Task Force is developing a comprehensive plan to return to school in August, which will be presented to the School Board for approval. 

The ultimate goal is to maximize on-campus education services for as many students as possible while keeping our students, families, staff, and community safe and healthy.  We also are committed to providing the highest quality, robust online learning where needed.

We need each of you to provide information for us so that we can develop the best plan for our students using the best educational, health and safety guidance available.

Your input is vital.  We have developed a survey to assess your needs for attendance, transportation, and technology.  Please complete the survey for each of your students.  It may be found on the RCPS website and each school’s website.  Paper copies will be available at each school, as well.  If you need assistance accessing the survey, please contact your school.

We value your input and thank you for your patience as we work together to develop our plan.

Thank you for your participation.

Transition and Restoration Task Force Members

The survey will be available until 5 p.m. Tuesday (7/7). 

Here are the survey links:

English version

Spanish version

Swahili version

Farsi version


You are welcome to provide written feedback here:

Click here to provide your feedback for the re-opening of schools



6/30/20 UPDATE:


The Transition and Restoration Task Force is committed to answering your questions to the best of its ability.  The Task Force has received more than 500 responses from staff, parents, students, and community members.  Here are this week's responses to your questions.

Q:          The Governor has issued Guidance for the Reopening of Schools in phases.  Is the Guidance mandatory on the school division or is it providing recommendations to the school division?

A:           The guidance is not mandatory. However, the guidance that the Governor is providing has been approved by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Virginia Department of Health.  Roanoke City Public Schools holds student safety as our number one priority.  For the first draft plan, we will follow the guidance as it is written while will seeking to maximize in person instruction with safety guidelines.  While we are looking into the option of applying for a variance based on the number of Covid-19 cases in our area, we do not want to risk the life of a student, staff, or a member of their family because we did not follow the guidance provided.  The final plan will be voted on by the school board.

Q:          The Governor's guidance suggests one student per bus row.  It also suggests students must be kept 6 feet apart in the classroom.  Are these mandatory government rules?  

A:            The guidance that the Governor is providing has been approved by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Virginia Department of Health.  Roanoke City Public Schools holds student safety as our number one priority.  We will follow the guidance as it is written.  We do not want to risk the life of a student or a member of their family because we did not follow the guidance provided.

Q:          The Governor's website provides a link for School Divisions who are opting out of the Guidance.  What does this mean?  Is RCPS applying for an Opt-Out?  Why/why not?

A:           Opting out of the guidance means that you are not following the guidance provided by the Governor.  Some areas have only had one or two cases of COVID-19 and they may decide that there is minimal risk to students and families if they do not follow that guidance.  RCPS is not applying for a variance.  We will follow the guidance as it is written.  We do not want to risk the life of a student or a member of their family because we did not follow the guidance provided.

Q:          Since RCPS staff members are required to come to work each day, will RCPS help with childcare since we are now “essential workers?”

A:           At this time, we do not have options for childcare that will be provided by RCPS.  There are many community organizations and childcare providers that will prioritize the needs of essential workers in our area.

Q:          Can we consider a half day option for students so more kids can attend in-person and staff and building space wouldn’t be as stretched thin? 

A:           This is an option that is being considered.

Q:          My child has an IEP.  What should I do if I have concerns about his/her progress and/or what his/her instruction will look like next year?

A:           The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) has provided guidance and regularly updates frequently asked questions for Special Education and Student Services on the VDOE website. Please review the FAQ here: http://www.doe.virginia.gov/support/health_medical/office/covid-19-sess-faq.shtml. If you have additional questions or concerns, please contact Hayley Poland, Executive Director of Special Education, at hpoland@rcps.info or (540)853-2468.

Q:          Has consideration been given to year-round school?

A:            At this time, we are considering all possibilities.

Q:          Will students be health screened each morning?  If so, will it be at school or at the bus stop?

A:            Students will be health screened daily, as will faculty and staff.  At this time, we are still discussing the details of the health screening.

Q:          Will RCPS working with other school systems in the area (Roanoke County, Salem, Botetourt) to create similar plans?

A:           RCPS and all of the surrounding schools systems have been communicating with each other throughout this unprecedented period.  All of the school divisions have unique challenges that they must try to overcome by means that are best for their localities.

Q:          What happens if there is an increase in Covid-19 cases in Roanoke during the school year? 

A:            RCPS will follow the Governor's orders.  

Q:          Some of us believe that the risks of Covid19 on children are extremely low.  The mental and emotional health risks from not sending our kids back far outweigh the risks of keeping them at home.

A:           While the risk may be low, we have may students with underlying conditions that put them at high risk should they contract the virus.  In addition, students may be asymptomatic carriers of the virus, which puts those with whom they come in contact at risk. Please keep in mind that we are following orders by the Governor and the Virginia Department of Education.

Q:          If students are only attending in-person a once or twice a week, how will students be divided up?  Could we divide up by neighborhoods to alleviate the burden on transportation?

A:           At this time, we are looking at a variety of options.  The most reasonable seems to be dividing students by last names.  If students from the same family have different last names that would send them to school on different days, they may talk to the principal of the school to discuss the possibility of those students attending on the same day.

Dividing students by neighborhoods makes knowing who should be in class on any particular day very difficult for faculty and staff of a particular school.  Neighborhoods vary greatly in size.  As student schedules are developed, administrators try to balance class sizes.  Balancing sizes based on neighborhoods puts an additional level of difficulty into the plan when we try to ensure that we are able to maintain social distancing.  Knowing who to anticipate being in class based on the student's last name makes it easier to identify who will be in class on any given day.  Administrators will be able to identify who should or should not be at the school. 

Q:          How will bathrooms be sanitized and monitored between each use?

A:           We are currently creating that plan and it will be updated throughout the summer.  Parts of the plan will include cleaning/sanitizing logs, bathroom monitors, limited students in the bathroom at one time, and monitoring of bathroom use by staff.  Additionally, maintenance and administrative staff will inspect bathrooms regularly (announced and unannounced) to ensure compliance.

Q:          Will a student’s decision whether to wear or not to wear a mask be treated as a discipline issue?

A:           No.

Q:          Can RCPS use outdoor space to house classrooms and space kids out? 

A:            Teachers may choose to take their students outside on any given day if the weather allows, but since we are unable to rely on outdoor spaces on a daily basis, we cannot put them in our overall instructional plan.  Concerns include unpredictability of the weather, safety, and the lack of instructional materials and technology that could be brought outside.

Q:          Can clear barriers be installed between every desk?

A:           All options are being considered to create the safest, most reasonable, health migration plans.  The effectiveness of mitigation vs the cost will be considered.

Q:          For those students who will have e-learning this year, what are you doing to ensure that high quality instruction is provided?  What percentage of the regular school day will be online LIVE instruction by RCPS teachers versus student-led online work via various applications?  

A:           We are developing a K-12 virtual instruction program that aligns with the Standards of Learning developed by the Virginia Department of Education.  All of our teachers will take part in a virtual academy to train them on the use of Canvas as an online learning management system.  Teachers will have access to all Virtual Virginia content, which they may use to supplement their own high quality instruction.  The percentage of live instruction will vary by course and by teacher.

Q:          How will academic progress be measured? 

A:           Students will be assessed regularly, both with informal teacher assessments and formal quizzes, tests, projects, and other types of assessments to ensure that they are making academic progress.

Q:          At what amount of lost learning will students have to repeat a grade?  Is this being discussed on a state-wide level?  Is RCPS discussing it?

A:           Everyone in the state education system is concerned about student learning loss due to being out of school for an extended period of time.  RCPS understands that there may be significant learning loss since students will have been out of school for five months when we return in August.  We know that it will take more than one school year to fill in those gaps.  We will not speculate about retention of students at this time.  It is our goal to provide a rich, rigorous, and relevant academic experience for each of our students that will allow them to make significant academic progress in the coming year. 

Q:          For middle/high school credit courses, if they are predominantly online, could students receive credit while working at their own pace, or do they have to follow the teacher’s pace each week?

A:           Since it is not known when all students will be able to safely return to on-campus learning, we will expect students to follow the teacher's pace each week.

Q:          Research has shown that singing spreads Covid19 at a faster rate.  What does that mean for choir classes?

A:           All of our performing arts classes will be following the guidelines provided by the Virginia Department of Education.  Our teachers will be creating engaging lessons that will not involve performance in the classroom, while modeling performance skills that may be practiced at home.  In the classroom, our teachers will be teaching students to create, devise, script, improvise, compose, or arrange.  They can learn to describe, analyze, interpret, and evaluate visual and performing arts. They may explore historical and cultural connections of fine arts, as well as how the arts are part of life and community events.  In addition, students may view and explore ways that artists are innovating art forms with and without technology.

Q:          Could secondary schools be on a 4x4 schedule?

A:           We are taking any and all possible scenarios into consideration as we develop our plan for instruction for the 2020-2021 school year.

Q:          Will RCPS incorporate more “multicultural learning” in their curriculum?

A:           Through curriculum, school counselors and school social workers will address topics with students such as diversity, equity, anti-bias, and anti-racism. It is also important to note that central office staff and all staff who will be in direct contact with students and families will be trained on these topics as well. Each instructional department is reviewing their curriculum guides in an effort to incorporate materials, lessons, and activities that celebrate diversity.  For example, language arts teachers will be using more diverse literature in their classrooms to allow students to illuminate similarities and differences in people around the world and educate readers themselves about their unique situations and our common humanity.  In addition, our social studies curriculum will expose our students to diverse narratives in a manner that allows them to generate their own opinions and rationalize complex viewpoints. Armed with knowledge and critical thinking skills, students will be better prepared to contribute to their future.

Q:          Since schools closed, my child’s mental health has declined.  What mental health supports will schools have to help students who may experience mental health issues?

A:           We recognize that there have been many issues during school closure which have created anxiety and mental health concerns for students. During the regular school year and school closure, school counselors and school social workers have and will continue to provide services and supports to students. When students are in school, school counselors and school social workers are available using social distancing guidelines. Students and families may also speak with counselors virtually or via telephone. School counselors and school social workers are able to refer and connect students and families to community services based on individual needs. This will continue throughout the reopening of schools. We are also working on partnering with a number of community agencies to provide ongoing mental health support in schools. These agencies will be equipped to work with students using virtual methods should the need arise. 

Every school currently has a trauma-informed team, and in the upcoming year, we will add students to these teams because we believe the perspective of our students is important. We are in the planning stages of providing regularly scheduled social-emotional curriculum to all students. We will have a place on our website to share resources for families and students.  A team is currently convening to discuss additional ways to support our students’ social and emotional health, and we look forward to sharing this information with everyone upon completion. Additionally, the Office of School Counseling and Equity is collaborating with community partners to make sure we understand all resources that are available in our community. In the meantime, if you believe your child is in danger of harming themselves, or someone else, please contact 911 to seek emergency services.


6/23/20 UPDATE:

Thank you to everyone who has provided feedback about re-opening of the schools.  Based on your questions and concerns, the Transition and Restoration Task Force has come up with commonly asked questions.  The Task Force makes every attempt to answer your questions and address your concerns. 

General

Q:          What exactly happens when school opens on August 18th?  Will my child be going to school each day?

A: Schools will open on time, but based on guidelines from the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) it will be a combination of virtual and face-to-face learning.  This is commonly referred to as a “hybrid plan”.  Specific plans will be created by the RCPS Transition and Restoration Task Force and will be sent to the VDOE for approval. 

Q:          I have a job.  I need my child to go to school every day.

A:           Roanoke City Public Schools (RCPS) understands this concern.  While school districts have some autonomy in creating a return to school plan for the 2020-2021 school year, it is limited in scope by what has been laid out by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Virginia Department of Health (VDH), and the VDOE.  There are three phases laid out in the plan created by the VDOE.  Phase I is strictly remote (virtual learning).  Phase II expands to the option of partial in-person learning for preK up to 3rd grade, students with special needs, and English Language Learners.  Phase III includes the option of in-person learning for all students with strict physical distancing guidelines. 

Q:          If Phase III allows for in-person learning, why can’t all kids attend school each day?

A:           While Phase III does allow for in-person learning, the guidelines require strict social and physical distancing measures.  This includes on the school bus and 6 feet of social distancing in the classroom.  As a result, it would be impossible for all students to be at their school, in their classroom at the same time.   

Q:          Students are likely returning to school on a staggered schedule.  Can parents choose which days their child attends?  If we have multiple children in RCPS, will they go on the same day?

A:           It is unlikely that parents will be able to choose the day(s) their students attend school.  We will make every attempt assist parents with having their students attend school on the same day, but cannot guarantee it at this time.

Q:          Will classrooms be deep cleaned and sanitized regularly?

A:           Yes, we anticipate this to occur following CDC and VDH guidelines.  A specific plan will be created and communicated to staff and parents.

Q:          I do not feel safe sending my child(ren) to school.  Will I be penalized for not sending them?  What options do I have?

A:           At this point, we are working on a virtual option for parents who do not feel safe sending their student(s) to school.  All students will be required to maintain their studies within the virtual environment if they are not attending school in person.  Students who have special needs will be assisted on a case-by-case basis.

Q:          Can middle school and high school students learn virtually while allowing elementary students to use the space in the middle and high schools?

A:           Elementary schools are specifically designed to meet the needs of smaller students.  This includes appropriately sized restroom facilities, water fountains that are lower to the ground, playground equipment, lower whiteboards, etc.  In addition, this option would require moving furniture, books, libraries, and other items needed for instruction from virtually every school.  Storage space would be difficult to find.  If we are able to return to normal instruction at some point in the school year, the transfer of equipment back to the original schools would be extremely time consuming and virtually impossible.

Q:          For consistency, can students be divided up into three groups?  Each group will attend school a week straight, then spend two weeks learning virtually.

A:           At this point, we are still in the planning stages.  Multiple options are being considered.  Please continue to provide feedback on the link at the top of this page.

Operations       

Q:          What are some alternatives or solutions to maximize the number of students that can ride the bus at one time?

A:           RCPS plans to audit various resources within our school system and community, including but not limited to revising our policy on walking distance from school, Valley Metro, community partners, and a bus “Needs Assessment” sent to all parents and guardians.

Q:          Can we use churches/available buildings as alternative meeting spaces?

A:           We want to use school board property/facilities to our full extent before we utilize private facilities.  There are numerous safety issues and guidelines that must be addressed and satisfied before we are able utilize private facilities.

Q:          Will students and staff be required to wear a mask?

A:           After direct discussions with local VDH representatives, we will be encouraging face coverings for all who can safely wear them.  Further guidance will be provided later in the summer.

Q:          Will students be health screened each day?

A:           Student and staff health is our top priority.  Current planning includes protocols for staff, visitor, and student screenings following CDC and VDH recommendations.  Specifics will be provided at a later date.

Instruction

Q:          Can we live stream or post videos of lessons for students to access while learning virtually?

A:           We are currently providing professional development for all of our teachers to provide virtual lessons for our students.  We have learned many lessons this spring and hope to provide the highest level of instruction possible in a hybrid environment.

Q:          Will our students still have PE & recess?

A:           RCPS believes in the value of physical activity for our students and its positive impact on learning.  More specific information will be included in our final plan.

Q:          My child has an IEP.  What should I do if I have concerns about his/her progress and/or what his/her instruction will look like next year?

A:           If you have specific concerns about your child’s IEP, please contact the special education coordinator for your child’s school.

Q:          Will RCPS use a standard platform and online programs?             

A:           All of our teachers will be trained to use Canvas as our learning management system for all students, K-12.  Students will access Canvas through their Clever accounts.  From their first day of school, all students will learn how to access their classes on Canvas.  More information will be provided as we develop tutorials and other materials that will assist families.



6/11/20 UPDATE:

Dear Parents and RCPS Community,

On Tuesday of this week, Governor Northam issued guidance for opening schools in Virginia. Full information on this guidance is available at the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) website (http://www.doe.virginia.gov/support/health_medical/covid-19/recover-redesign-restart.shtml). In this plan, the Governor outlined the minimum guidance and expectations for the opening and operation of school divisions across the Commonwealth. The guidance provides us a framework within which we may develop plans and seek feedback through our Transition and Restoration (T&R) Task Force, which was created to meet the needs of Roanoke City students and their families.

At this point, we know two things for certain. First, the School Academic Year will begin on Tuesday, August 18, 2020, as originally scheduled. Second, your student’s experience will vary by grade level and the phase of the Pandemic. We are in Phase I presently and hope to enter Phase 2 shortly. For an explanation of requirements in each Phase, please refer to the VDOE website above.

Here is what you can expect going forward. Communication related to school reopening will come from the T&R Task Force in collaboration with the Superintendent. We will announce a schedule of planned communications by the end of next week so you will know when and how you will hear information related to Roanoke’s plan to open schools. Part of this plan will include a Transition & Restoration Task Force webpage that will be updated regularly. Your feedback is important to us, and the webpage (see top) has a place you can submit your input at any time 

We know you are eager to have answers, and we are eager to provide them. The truth of this situation is that it will be challenging to simultaneously optimize the health and safety of all our students and staff, meet the educational needs of all our students, and satisfy the recently released requirements from the state. Our coming school year will not look like anything that any of us has ever experienced before. We realize the stress and impact these decisions will have on you and your family.  Please know we will remain mindful of your concerns throughout our decision process. 

Thank you for your support of Roanoke City Schools and for trusting us with your children.

Sincerely,

T&R Task Force Members

The following people are serving on the Task Force:

Archie Freeman, principal

Cari Gates, Supervisor of Visual and Performing Arts

Chris Perkins, Chief of Security

Dr. Eli Jamison, School Board Member

Corey Allder, Supervisor of EL and World Language Programs

Josh Burton, Principal

Joyce Hatcher, Executive Director of Human Resources

Joyce Watkins, School Board Member

Dr. Julie Drewry, Executive Director of School Improvement

Justin McLeod, Director of Public Relations & Marketing

Kathleen Jackson, Chief Financial Officer

Rita D. Bishop, Superintendent

Taisha Steele, Executive Director of Equity & School Counseling

Tracey D. Anderson, Principal

Verletta White, Incoming Superintendent

For a list of sub-committee members, click here.


Here is additional information about the Task Force:

Roanoke City Public Schools has created a Transition and Restoration Task Force to help re-open schools. 

Charge

The Transition and Restoration Task Force (T & R Task Force) charge is to provide plans and policy recommendations that will guide Roanoke City Public Schools through an educational and operational transition for the 2020-2021 school year. At a minimum, the task force will:

  1. Develop contingency plans for multiple scenarios after examining all aspects of the RCPS educational environment, including social-emotional, operational, and instructional components.
  2. Engage stakeholders (i.e.families, community members, teachers from various levels and disciplines, school and division-level administrators, counselors, classified and professional staff, etc.) to gather feedback and provide leadership throughout this process.
  3. Establish clear protocols and a system for communicating information to stakeholders.

Social-Emotional, Operational, and Instructional Priorities

  • Social-Emotional: Examine and provide for emotional and mental health of students and staff, including providing training as necessary.
  • Operational: To determine plans and protocols for proceeding in this environment

    (i.e. transportation, field trips, usage of facilities by outside groups, etc.) as directed by state and federal recommendations/guidelines.

  • Instructional: Establish innovative practices, including remote learning, to recover instructional loss as well as move the curriculum forward, with special focus on equity in how instruction is delivered and received.

Guiding Principles

All activities of the T&R Task Force will proceed using with the following guiding principles across all its activities and decisions:

  1. The driving question underlying all decisions will be: “Does this decision create the best outcome for every student in the district?”
  2. All decisions must reflect a consideration of the enhancement and/or advancement of equity and inclusion in the treatment of students, faculty, staff, and RCPS families.
  3. Difficult decisions will need to be made, and some of these decisions necessarily will exact a human cost to some members of our RCPS community. Therefore, decisions must include the active representation of all stakeholder voices to ensure that we understand whose concerns and priorities will be unmet for every decision are made so as to account for those concerns in the future.
  4. Social/Emotional, Instructional, and Operational Priorities have overlapping and intersectional implications and final decisions/action must meet and support the needs of other system priorities.

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