In a decision that prioritizes the health and safety of employees, students and families, Henrico County Public Schools Superintendent Amy Cashwell announced today that she will recommend a fully virtual start to the 2020-21 school year as Virginia continues to grapple with the coronavirus pandemic. Cashwell’s public announcement comes in advance of the Henrico County School Board’s Thursday meeting to hold a formal vote on the recommendation. The virtual approach would be in place for at least the first nine weeks of the school year, which begins Sept. 8.
“As heartbreaking as it would be to not see all our students in person on Sept. 8, it is clear to me that this is the most prudent recommendation at this time, based on evolving health information,” Cashwell said in messages to HCPS employees and student households.
September’s virtual learning experience will be different than the one students encountered in the wake of the school division’s March closure.
“Henrico Edflix offered a lot of great material, and we’re very proud of it,” Cashwell said. “It was an emergency learning tool that provided flexibility for staff and students in bringing the school year to a sudden close in the middle of a crisis.
“For months, we have known that a virtual option would be included for the 2020-21 school year and our staff members have been working long hours to create a redesigned, developmentally appropriate experience that is rich, structured, robust, and graded.”
Cashwell elaborated on her recommendation in a video posted to the school division’s YouTube channel and social media:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ni3UBckxu1A&feature=youtu.be.
Visit “HCPS 2020-21: Mission Forward” return-to-school page at https://henricoschools.us/returntoschool/ for the latest information. More information about virtual learning will be made available on an ongoing basis.
Henrico County Public Schools will continue to work with health experts to evaluate pandemic conditions in Virginia and the Richmond region, and regularly assess the feasibility of incorporating in-person attendance for students and staff members.
While HCPS had already decided to make fully virtual attendance one option for the 2020-21 school year, the school division also considered starting the year with pathways that included in-person attendance. A hybrid model would combine some rotating in-person attendance with virtual learning. The school division also looked at the feasibility of allowing students to attend school in person five days a week. Depending on health and safety conditions, in-person options may be incorporated later in the school year. All would include social distancing and rigorous safety protocols as recommended by health experts.
The School Board will vote on Cashwell’s recommendation at a Thursday in-person meeting, scheduled for noon at New Bridge Learning Center in eastern Henrico County.
In-person attendance will conform to Virginia’s current health and safety guidelines. In accordance with the policy for access to all buildings operated by Henrico County, attendees aged 10 and older are required to wear masks. Masks will be provided for those needing them, and the seating policy will reflect social distancing guidelines. Attendees will also undergo a brief health screening before entering, including having their temperature taken using a no-contact thermometer. They will also be asked a shortlist of health-screening questions.
Those not attending can view a livestream of the meeting by going to https://henricoschools.us.
Will you help support independent, local journalism?
We need your help. RVAHub is a small, independent publication, and we depend on our readers to help us provide a vital community service. If you enjoy our content, would you consider a donation as small as $5? We would be immensely grateful! Interested in advertising your business, organization, or event? Get the details here.