September 25, 2020
On Tuesday October 13, I will be making a recommendation to the Goochland County School Board to reopen our schools for in person learning for kindergarten through fifth grade children beginning on Monday, October 19. This recommendation will require approval by the Board. Please know that, even as students return to school in person, families may still choose to continue with their current distance learning plan (either synchronous OR asynchronous) if that is what you feel is best for your child and your family.
I am excited to present a recommendation to reopen our schools for in person learning and to provide an alternative for families who want to remain with either synchronous or asynchronous distance learning. Please take a moment to review this snapshot of the most significant details of this potential elementary instructional plan.
In this proposed hybrid model, our elementary school teachers will be assigned to either in person students or distance learners. This will allow our teachers to focus their instructional efforts exclusively on one group, ensuring a strong experience for every student. This means that your child may not have the same teacher they have had since August 24. Schools will communicate directly with families regarding teacher assignments.
Ultimately, the number of days that elementary students will attend in person will depend on the interest for in person learning that we receive from parents through our survey (English) or this one (en Español) and the capacity that we have inside our classrooms and buses, given distancing requirements in our Phase III health plan to keep students 6 feet apart. These factors will determine whether students attend two days a week or five days a week. I expect to have this detail communicated to families by October 8.
Please know that we continue to work through the planning process in anticipation of this transition. The possibility exists that current arrival and dismissal schedules for in person learners may be adjusted to accommodate for a variety of factors, including teacher planning time and fatigue due to wearing face coverings during the day. Families are encouraged to begin to seek afternoon child care options for the possibility of students being dismissed at approximately 1:00 or 1:30 on a daily basis. Current learning lab students may remain in the building IF families continue to have that need.
Additionally, our current instructional calendar may be adjusted slightly to allow teachers time to plan for this transition. At this time, October 9 and October 16 are tentatively scheduled as work days for teachers. No students would be in the buildings on these days. Students would complete assigned work from home on these days. More information will follow once a final decision is made on these two dates.
We will follow our division’s approved Phase III health plan for all students who attend in person. These efforts include a required health screening before the children leave home, face coverings as medically and developmentally appropriate, temperature checks, and 6 feet social distancing. Our collective efforts to stay home when sick, wash our hands, and comply with these strategies will help us to provide the healthiest environment possible for our students and staff.
As noted in our health plan, students who ride on our school buses will be required to wear a face covering and will be seated one to a seat. As a result, this will significantly limit our bus capacity and the number of students we are able to transport at a time. Each bus will be limited to a capacity of approximately 20 students, a significant reduction in capacity at approximately 33% of what we have been able to transport in the past. As a result, we are asking assistance from families to consider transporting their own child both to and from school IF they are able to. In order to plan our routes for the new year based on our limited capacity, we need to know how you intend to get your child to school and home through this survey (English) or this one (en Español).
We Need Your Help!
In order for me to finalize this recommendation to the School Board, prepare student schedules, staff assignments, bus routes, and the many other operational decisions that we will need to make to prepare, I need more information from you. I ask all of our families to take a moment to complete this brief survey (English) or this one (en Español) prior to 4:00 p.m. on Friday October 2 for each elementary child who is currently enrolled in our schools. Let us know if you will be choosing to send your child to school or if they will continue with their current distance learning approach. Please note that the choice you make will be binding through the end of the first semester that ends on Friday December 18.
I will continue to keep you updated as decisions are made and more information becomes available. By next Friday, October 2, I will provide information to our middle school and high school families regarding their return to school plan. Please stay tuned to our website, your email, and our social media feeds for the most current information. I will provide as much advance notice as possible once final decisions are made so families can adjust accordingly. In the meantime, please know that I welcome your questions, thoughts, and feedback. Please feel free to give me a call or send me an email at any time.
Yours in Service,
Jeremy J. Raley, Ed.D.