UPDATE (Oct. 12, 2020):
We want to provide an update from Dr. Ken Nicely regarding our school schedule and hope you will find this information helpful.
It has now been seven weeks since students in Roanoke County returned to school on August 24. There have been many obstacles to overcome, but we cannot say enough about how grateful we are to you as parents for persevering with us through these challenges and supporting your children in countless ways. The pandemic continues to put a strain on parents, students, families, and educators across Virginia and the United States, and we would all like nothing more than to see it end as soon as possible.
Meanwhile, we have also been very proud of our students who have been very cooperative and taken joint responsibility for keeping staff and families safe by observing physical distancing, wearing face masks, and cooperating with temperature checks. Even as we simultaneously seek ways to fit more students in our schools as well as supporting online learning, we want to assure you that our school board remains committed to public safety and following Virginia Department of Health and CDC public health guidelines and our students have done well with this so far.
As you know, the VDH and CDC continue to clearly emphasize that physical distancing of six feet and the supplemental use of face masks are the two most important measures that schools, as well as members of the general public, need to follow in order to lessen risks from COVID-19. Being within six feet for more than 15 minutes of a person who tests positive is also the standard the health department uses to determine who needs to be quarantined. The VDH and CDC agree with us that keeping our schools open and avoiding long-term closures is very important for our students’ academic progress and social-emotional health(please see these links to VDH and CDC; and a link to RCPS mental health and counseling resources.) So far, we have been able to avoid long-term closures of large classes, grade levels, and whole schools though the combined use of physical distancing, face coverings, temperature checks, contact tracing, and staying home when sick. We need to continue to work together to keep our schools open and to lower the risk to our families and staff.
RCPS Plan Expands
Over the past seven weeks, we have learned a lot about what works and what does not work well. For example, we have learned that our students, from preschool through high school, can adjust to practicing physical distancing and wearing face masks when adults set that expectation. We have learned that, while not ideal, whole classes can learn in larger spaces such as cafeterias and libraries if needed for physical distancing. We have learned that, in many cases, a better balance needs to be achieved in terms of online academic workloads and we are working on achieving that balance.
Based on what we have learned and the current public health conditions in our area, our schools have been working very hard to find ways to accommodate more students on a daily basis for our next phase. Since COVID concerns remain at a high to moderate range in our area, we must continue with six-feet distancing in order to be compliant with VDH guidance. Fitting more students in our schools at the same time means, therefore, that we must move some classes to larger spaces or split students into additional spaces, since typical classrooms hold 12-14 students each with physical distancing.
We are pleased to announce that, beginning the week of October 26 (start of the second nine weeks), opportunities for more students to attend in person will expand. Students who wish to remain 100% online may continue to do so; however, due to new space limitations, elementary students who are 100% online as of October 26 will need to remain 100% online throughout the second nine weeks.
- On Thursday and Friday, October 22 and 23, third grade students will not report to school, in order to give teachers time to re-arrange classes and prepare for the following week. October 22-23 students will complete their assignments outside of school.
- Beginning Monday, October 26, all third graders will attend school five days per week, following a schedule similar to the younger grades. Third grade students who wish to remain 100% online may do so, but there will be no hybrid schedule for third grade.
- In order to fit all third graders in school each day, many classes will move to larger spaces such as the cafeteria or library and some students may be assigned to a different teacher. Students who remain 100% online will have a designated online teacher, similar to what is done in grades K-2.
- Third graders who are currently 100% online may change to daily in-person attendance, but such a change must be made before October 23. Elementary students who are 100% online as of October 26 will need to remain 100% online throughout the second nine weeks, due to increased limitations with space.
Grades 4 and 5
- Beginning Monday, October 26, students in grades four and five who receive English language services or daily special education services will attend four days per week as outlined in their current plan (every day except Wednesdays).
- In order to fit additional students in school, some students may be re-grouped to use additional classroom spaces.
- Fourth and fifth graders who are currently 100% online may change to daily in-person attendance, but such a change must be made before October 23. Elementary students who are 100% online as of October 26 will need to remain 100% online throughout the second nine weeks, due to increased limitations with space.
- Beginning Wednesday, October 28, middle and high schools will begin offering a “Hybrid Help Day” for students who need additional support, are failing a course, or have excessive missing work.
- Teachers will identify students who need additional support and the school will contact parents each week to ask that the student attend on a week-by-week, as-needed basis.
- Students will be supervised by support staff in a quiet area to provide a structured environment in which to complete assignments. Teachers may work directly with a student for a portion of the time as needed.
We are glad to be able to expand opportunities for in-person attendance for students, and we hope to continue with all of these opportunities for as long as we can keep outbreaks from occurring at school. This will require a continued effort from our entire community. Thank you again for all your efforts and support.
On July 15, the Roanoke County School Board approved the recommended plan for the start of the 2020-2021 school year. Please see this page for a summary of the plan and a link to a detailed presentation.
7:45 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.
(drop off can begin as early as 7:15 a.m.)
Grades PK-3: Daily (3rd grade starting Oct. 26)
Grades 4-5: Hybrid (group 1/group 2)
8:20 a.m. - 2:25 p.m.
Grades 6-8: Hybrid (group 1/group 2)
8:20 a.m. - 2:25 p.m.
Grades 9-12: Hybrid (group 1/group 2)
Hybrid Group 1:
Mondays and Thursdays in school
Remote Tuesdays, Wednesdays & Fridays
Hybrid Group 2:
Tuesdays and Fridays in school
Remote Mondays, Wednesdays & Thursdays