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RPS Virtual Meeting is Tonight (Monday)

This work session of the Board will be dedicated to the 2020-21 Reopening Plan.

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The RPS School Board will hold a work session today, Monday, June 29, 2020 at 6 pm. This work session of the Board will be dedicated to the 2020-21 Reopening Plan. Public comment is being accepted and we apologize for any confusion about its inclusion in tonight’s meeting. To submit comments, please email them to [email protected] by 1:00 pm, Monday, June 29, 2020.

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Richard Hayes is the co-founder of RVAHub. When he isn't rounding up neighborhood news, he's likely watching soccer or chasing down the latest and greatest board game.

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HCPS families: Take a short survey and help Henrico County Public Schools plan for fall reopening

“The input we get from families and staff will be critical as we formulate our plans,” said Amy Cashwell, HCPS superintendent. “HCPS will take into account state guidance, the advice of health experts and the wishes of the larger community before making any final determinations for the fall.”

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Henrico County Public Schools will reopen in the fall, but what exactly will that look like? The school division is making plans for a safe and healthy return to school and is seeking the input of HCPS families and staff members. The survey results will be used for planning purposes and respondents are not committing to any choices for the 2020-21 school year.

HCPS parents, guardians, and employees received an email recently with a link to a short video about reopening, followed by a survey. The email sender will be “Henrico County Public Schools” and the subject line will read “Back to school: Your feedback needed.” The survey is open through July 5. It is only available to HCPS employees and student households.

“The input we get from families and staff will be critical as we formulate our plans,” said Amy Cashwell, HCPS superintendent. “HCPS will take into account state guidance, the advice of health experts and the wishes of the larger community before making any final determinations for the fall.”

On June 9, Virginia officials issued guidelines for state schools and school divisions to reopen in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. HCPS will use the state guidance, along with staff and community input, to create detailed plans for instruction and health. After an initial review of the guidelines, HCPS is pursuing a plan that combines two approaches: one hybrid model that alternates in-person and virtual learning, and a second fully virtual, parallel pathway:

  • Hybrid learning pathway: One portion of the student body would attend classes on campus for a period of time, while another portion would learn remotely. This pathway contains several options under consideration. The two groups might alternate days or weeks on campus to build a blended learning environment. Having fewer students on campus would make it easier to implement distancing guidelines.
  • Parallel all-virtual learning pathway: Based on the choice of parents or guardians, students may opt for a fully virtual learning experience that parallels the “in-person” instruction happening in classrooms.

Before reopening for any large-scale in-person instruction, HCPS and other Virginia school divisions must show how they will comply with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID-19 prevention strategies, including:

  • Use of face coverings.
  • Health screenings for staff and students.
  • Physical distancing measures.
  • Enhanced hygiene practices for staff and students.
  • Isolating symptomatic cases.
  • Cleaning and disinfecting procedures.

Those not receiving the email should check their email account’s spam or junk folders. For questions about the survey, or if you did not receive an email, contact Helen Whitehurst in HCPS’ Department of Assessment, Research, and Evaluation at [email protected].

For an overview of HCPS’ plans as they stand prior to community feedback, watch the video below.

The school division will make additional announcements as plans continue to be developed in accordance with the Commonwealth’s new health and safety guidelines.

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Douglas Freeman High School will engage in listening process on future of ‘Rebels’ nickname

The school, which opened in 1954, is named for Douglas Southall Freeman, a Richmond historian, author, and journalist. While Freeman won Pulitzer Prizes for his biographies of both Robert E. Lee and George Washington, the school’s nickname was likely inspired by his Confederate subjects.

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Douglas S. Freeman High School will solicit input from students, families, alumni, and community members on the future of its “Rebels” nickname, the school’s principal announced today in an email message. The process will be about collecting experiences and opinions. A committee of community members, students, and staff will compile the responses, analyze feedback to identify themes, and create a report that will be a basis for community dialogue. While the process will be school-based, the Douglas Freeman administration will work closely with Henrico County Public Schools’ superintendent and School Board.

“While our traditions contribute to our strong school culture, this moment in our nation’s history demands that we ask if our symbols and language reflect our core values,” said John Marshall, Douglas Freeman principal. “In this spirit, hundreds of our students, alumni, families, and community members have written over the past few weeks expressing their view that now is the time to change Freeman’s mascot.”

The Rebels nickname is viewed by some, Marshall said, as a name for those “who use our talents to challenge the status quo and change the world.” Others view the nickname as archaic, and a “dividing and unwelcoming force for many students.

“There have been petitions and student-led calls for a mascot change, and just as many petitions and calls for keeping it. However, there has not been a public, school-led, formal examination of the topic until today.

“Douglas Freeman High School is a model in many ways,” said Marshall, “and this moment gives us another opportunity to lead. I am optimistic about our ability to have this conversation as a Freeman Family, and model how a community should have such a dialogue.”

The input form is available by going to www.freemanmascot.info. Questions about the process can be emailed to [email protected]. Respondents can submit thoughts in written, audio, or video form.

While the Henrico County school retains its Rebels nickname, it has not used a visual mascot for many years, instead opting for an interlocking “DSF” logo.

The school, which opened in 1954, is named for Douglas Southall Freeman, a Richmond historian, author, and journalist. While Freeman won Pulitzer Prizes for his biographies of both Robert E. Lee and George Washington, the school’s nickname was likely inspired by his Confederate subjects.

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Henrico Schools release five possible options under consideration for fall return

Henrico County Public Schools will provide all students with customizable learning pathways for the summer and is considering five options for a return to school for the 2020-21 school year. Here’s what they could look like.

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Henrico County Public Schools will provide all students with customizable learning pathways for the summer and is considering five options for a return to school for the 2020-21 school year.

In an attempt to buttress summer learning and mitigate the effects of instructional time lost to the closure for coronavirus, all of the school division’s students will have access to prescribed learning pathways for the summer months. In some cases, students’ plans will be optional, and in others, will be required. The avenues will include both asynchronous learning (online learning that happens on students’ schedules) and synchronous learning (online education that happens in real-time, delivered by a teacher at a specific time).

The five options for the 2020-21 school year include a full return to school campuses for all students, an all-online option, and three options that would combine the two. All options that involve returning to school facilities would include new, possibly unprecedented, safety protocols for successfully reopening public schools.

“This summer and fall will be about flexibility, creativity, and above all, safety,” said Amy Cashwell, HCPS superintendent. “We’re going to keep working hard to find innovative ways to support all our students as they continue learning this summer, and to prepare for a safe return to school in the fall, no matter what that may look like.”

Summer student pathways

Summer learning pathways are part of HCPS’ “Henrico Edflix” learning plan and will enable all students to build skills directly related to the grade-level content they will encounter during the 2020-21 school year. Some of the pathways are designed for students who may have gaps in learning, while others are designed for review, enrichment and acceleration. There are also several exceptional education options under consideration for students with disabilities. The plan will include students who, in other years, might have taken part in HCPS’ Summer Academy, accelerated learning or extended-school-year programs. For details about the pathways, go to HCPS’ On-Demand Learning webpage athttps://henricoschools.us/covid19/ondemandlearning/.

Fall options for 2020-21 school year

Henrico County Public Schools is considering five possible formats for 2020-21 school attendance, depending on factors related to the pandemic. New safety measures would be adopted for on-campus options, and under all options, the pace of learning would be adjusted to include content students may have missed in the spring. The five options under consideration are:

  • Option A: On-campus learning. All students would be back on campus, with new, possibly unprecedented, safety measures in place.
  • Option B: Remote learning that is structured and enhanced. All students would participate in required daily remote learning that includes graded schoolwork. While HCPS’ March closure necessitated emergency distance-learning measures, this option would more closely resemble the traditional expectations of a typical school day.
  • Option C: Interrupted on-campus learning. All students would be back on campus for several weeks or months at a time, which could be interrupted by periods of structured remote learning in response to health concerns that may arise.
  • Option D: Hybrid learning. One portion of the student body would attend classes on campus for a period of time, while another portion would learn remotely. The two groups might switch after a number of months, or alternate days on campus to build a blended learning environment. Having fewer students on campus would make it easier to implement distancing guidelines.
  • Option E: Parallel learning. Part of the student body would attend all classes on campus while another group would learn remotely for the entire school year because of choice or necessity. This option would not require students to alternate days, unless a student needed to shift from one track to the other.

Each of the five options would require extensive coordination and planning by HCPS staff members. At this time a final plan has not been determined. The school division will make additional announcements as plans continue to be developed in accordance with health and safety guidelines.

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