RRGSD Return to Learn Plan for 2020-2021

RRGSD Return to Learn Plan for 2020-2021

A forward-thinking plan for opening schools amid COVID-19  

(July 14, 2020 Update)

We are facing a global pandemic never before seen in any of our lifetimes. The impact on our school family has been significant. We realize this stress and recognize the impact our decisions have on you and your family.  

“The safety of our students and staff is important.  We know from the CDC guidelines that keeping fewer people more separated and increasing handwashing and sanitation of the physical environment reduces the likelihood that someone will get sick. We also know continued school closures not only pose increased learning loss, but also threaten the social, emotional well-being of students, increase food insecurity, and create equity gaps. While there may not be one perfect solution, we now have the opportunity to shape a proactive, intentional learning and teaching plan to move our students forward academically and socially-emotionally and provide our families with choices that work for their children” said Dain Butler, Superintendent. 

The Roanoke Rapids Graded School District Board of Trustees adopted a plan Tuesday night that maximizes on-campus learning for the most vulnerable students in a safe way. Pre-kindergarten through grade 8 students will be able to attend every day face-to-face, and grades 9-12 students will have virtual learning every day. This hybrid plan follows Governor Cooper’s latest directive announced Tuesday afternoon and prioritizes the health of students, staff, and community while responding to the scheduling needs of parents and staff by spreading out younger students across all district campuses in much smaller groups. The district is also committed to high-quality, robust virtual learning for high school and early college students as well as any elementary and middle school students who choose a virtual option.  

RRGSD Guiding Data

The plan was largely developed in response to a parent, staff, and student survey that was sent out in late June.  Of survey respondents, 61% of parents, 67% of staff members, and 47% of students said they preferred 100% face-to-face instruction. Many parents indicated their concerns about available, flexible, and affordable child care options that would be able to facilitate remote learning on their students’ virtual learning days. Likewise, staff indicated concerns about simultaneously trying to engage with half of their class face-to-face, while also engaging with half of their class virtually, as well as simultaneously managing their own children’s schedule on virtual learning days. With this plan, virtual learning is an option for all families.  

“Based on our available facility space and our number of buses, our decision was somewhat made for us because we do not have the space to socially distance 100% of our total student enrollment and staff in our district classrooms at one time.  While we agree all students from Pre-K through twelfth grade benefit from in-person instruction, providing remote instruction for high school students frees up our high school spaces to be repurposed for middle school grades and allows us to follow the latest state guidelines released on Tuesday. As Governor Cooper explained in his press conference, research also suggests that elementary age children are less likely to be infected with COVID-19 which helped further guide our decision making toward having only younger students in our buildings,” said Julie Thompson, Assistant Superintendent of Instructional Services. 

RRGSD Commitments:

  • Keeping students and staff as physically safe and emotionally healthy as possible

  • Ensuring access, equity, and excellence for all students

  • Communicating with stakeholders including staff, families, and community partners

  • Ensuring flexibility to meet the social, emotional, and academic needs of all students 

  • Supporting readiness and progress in teaching and learning whether in person or virtual

“RRGSD’s plan for reopening is a working document.  It’s important to note the local, state, and national guidance and requirements we’ve been given have been rapidly changing, so please understand these plans must be flexible and allow for changes as new health data is released to protect our students and staff. We will follow all federal, state, and local directives,” Butler added.  

Highlights of RRGSD Return to Learn Plan: 

  • Pre-K through Grade 8 will begin school August 17 face-to-face (unless family chooses virtual-only option)

    • To the extent possible, all classes will be 12 students or fewer; there will be a maximum of 15 students per group. All classrooms will be marked to ensure students are socially distanced per NCDHHS requirements. 

    • To accommodate the increased number of student groups, some grade levels will have to move to campuses other than their home base school. Eligibility for bus transportation will be determined based on home location to the school campus where students will attend classes.  

      • Pre-Kindergarten students will attend Clara Hearne Pre-K Center. 

      • Kindergarten - Grade 4 students will attend either Belmont or Manning Elementary using current district guidelines from 8:10 a.m.- 3:10 p.m. 

      • Grades 5 - 6 students will attend classes at Chaloner Middle School from 8:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. 

      • Grades 7 - 8 students will attend classes at Roanoke Rapids High School from 7:25 p.m. - 2:25 p.m. 

    • Students in self-contained EC (Life Skills) will be housed in their home base school (Grades K-5 will be at Belmont or Manning and Grades 6-8 at Chaloner.)

    • Per NC DHHS requirements, while at school, students & staff will wear face coverings when they are within 6 feet of another person unless an exception applies, is eating, or engaged in strenuous physical activity and able to maintain 6 feet distance from other people.  Face coverings must be worn by all students, teachers, staff, and adult visitors on buses or other school transportation vehicles, inside school buildings, and anywhere on school grounds, including outside.  

    • Per NC DHHS recommendations, students will not be able to receive food dropped off on face-to-face days, and visitors (including parents) will not be allowed to enter the buildings except for pre-arranged visits coordinated by school administrators.

  • Grades 9-12 Roanoke Rapids High School (RRHS) students will begin August 17 virtual only.

    • Students in self-contained EC (Life Skills and OCS) will attend face-to-face at RRHS every day.

  • Grades 9-12 Roanoke Rapids Early College (RREC) students will begin August 10 virtual only. 

  • Both Pre-K and Place to Play will have limited enrollment, but we will still offer our typical Place to Play before and after school child care service for students at Belmont and Manning.

School Safety & Cleaning Protocol 

We are planning a simple, yet strict wellness screening for all staff, students, and essential visitors that meet North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) guidance along with social distancing requirements on our campuses. 

Under the supervision of our school nurses, our trained school personnel will conduct regular screenings for symptoms that include temperature checks prior to loading buses or entering school buildings along with ongoing monitoring throughout the day. Anyone who feels ill or is showing symptoms of illness, such as an elevated body temperature (100.4 or higher), dry cough, shortness of breath, new loss of taste or smell, must stay home. No one with symptoms or a temperature of 100.4 or higher will be allowed into the building. COVID-19 related absences would not be held against a student.  

Additionally, there will be safety measures inside our buildings to further strengthen health conditions. Current state guidance from NCDHHS requires all students and staff to wear masks or facial coverings while on school campuses unless an exception applies. Due to NCDHHS requirements, RRGSD must limit visitors to our campuses.  Unfortunately, this will prevent the tradition of parents and/or guardians bringing outside food to school during the day and eating lunch with their child for the time being.  

Staff and students will be given frequent handwashing breaks and hand sanitizer will be in place in all buildings. Our facilities teams have been and will continue to regularly disinfect our buildings and busses to ensure the highest level of cleanliness possible.  RRGSD has established a schedule to perform ongoing and routine environmental cleaning and disinfection of high-touch areas (door handles, stair rails, faucet handles, toilet handles, playground equipment, light switches, desks, tables, chairs, etc.) with an EPA approved disinfectant. 

Virtual Learning

Virtual learning will look much different than it did in the spring.  We’ve had more time to evaluate and improve the overall experience for our students and teachers.  RRGSD has invested more than $600,000 this summer to issue every K-12 student a Chromebook they can use both at school and at home to complete assignments and reduce the potential spread of sickness through paper distribution.  They can also be used for remote learning should we be forced to adapt to a virtual learning model as a result of future state orders.  We’re also working with the 1Million Project to supply additional hotspots to those who do not have reliable, high-speed internet at home.  

Remote learning for students will include daily attendance and schedules.  

To ensure a robust remote instruction experience, RRGSD has partnered with Apex Learning to provide both courses and tutorials for all students. Teachers will be able to assign either or both in addition to the materials they create. Apex Learning also includes support for End of Course tests and ACT and SAT. Remote learning for students will include daily attendance and schedules. Teachers will provide feedback on student work and issue grades based on mastery, not just completion. We know the importance of student and teacher interaction. Therefore, teachers and staff will be accessible to students in a variety of ways throughout the school day.  Students with special needs who are not in self-contained classes will still receive specially designed instruction and other related services as dictated in their Individualized Education Program.

Virtual learning will mirror traditional instruction as much as possible.  Students will have the option to watch recorded videos produced by their teacher and complete assignments daily.  There is no expectation for a student to sit at a computer for 5+ hours a day.  They will also have live check-ins with their teacher on a regular basis.  

Families who want to opt for 100% virtual learning for their elementary or middle school students may do so by completing this form and submitting to their home base school. (This form will need to be printed, signed, and turned in to your child’s school administrator or Central Services office.)

Meal Sites

Pre-K through grade 8 students will eat breakfast and lunch in their classrooms every day. The School Nutrition Staff will cook hot meals and cold meals and pre-packaged for safe and efficient distribution to students.  RRGSD has a plan to be able to provide meals for high school students every day.

Next Steps

Kindergarten - grade 8 families will need to complete the Family Intent Survey as soon as they can to indicate their preference for their children’s learning environment and transportation for the 2020-21 school year.  

As soon as possible, we will update parents and stakeholders with additional details about the following:

  • Chromebook distribution

  • Options for internet access 

  • Teaching and learning information 

  • High school and middle school sports

  • Comprehensive FAQ on our website to answer questions that may arise following this release

“These decisions were not made lightly, however, we believe all of them were made with our students’, families’, and staff members' best interests in mind,” Butler said. 

Moving forward, we also have plans in place should there be a positive case on any of our campuses. This plan includes consultation with the Halifax Health Department to determine whether closure of a classroom or entire building would be required.  These situations would be determined on a case-by-case basis.  

Please know we will remain mindful of your concerns as we continue to navigate through this unprecedented time. Thank you in advance for your support of the Roanoke Rapids Graded School District and for trusting us with your children.