Grafton Gazette

Summer Newsletter August 2020

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A message from the Principal

August 7, 2020


Dear Families,

It is hard to believe that summer is drawing to a close! While many of us are sad to see the season end, we are also excited about a new school year and welcoming back our Grizzlies! We have been busy this summer preparing class lists, interviewing new staff members, and making sure the building is ready for the beginning of school. Of course, this includes signage related to health and hygiene, socially distanced classrooms, and new cleaning procedures. While the year will be starting in a fully virtual format, we are working hard to ensure the facilities are ready for our students to return to the building in the coming weeks. On the staffing front, we have bittersweet news to share. Michelle Benke, Holly Clyde, Jen Emerson, Kathy Hovanic, Emmy Lieser, Bette Ruppert, and Liz Stoffan have all departed GVES for a variety of reasons including new jobs, new positions in SCPS, family moves, and retirements. We will miss all of these incredible teachers and wish them the best in their new schools.

As a result, we have hired several new teachers. They are Maryanna Stribling and Grace Hynden (2nd Grade), Chelsey Brown and Estela White (3rd Grade), and Devin Petka and Kate Terney (4th Grade) and Bridget Sherba (ESOL). We have also made some internal staffing changes with Melissa Longley moving to 1st grade, Leah Staples moving to 5th grade, Katherine Counsell taking on the role of librarian and Lindsey Longo becoming a special education teacher..

With the upcoming school year featuring a variety of logistical options, I wanted to take a moment to share and define some key terms that you may see in the coming weeks. They include:

  • Virtual Learning - This is the instructional model where students receive all of their assignments and lessons online. Virtual Learning will include lessons taught by GVES teachers online (usually through Google Meet) and assignments and tasks to be completed at home by the student. You may also see this referred to as “online learning”, “remote learning” or “distance learning”

  • Hybrid Learning - This is the instructional model where students attend school two days per week for in-person learning and then receive assignments and tasks to complete at home on their days away from the building. The at-home assignments will often be assigned through technology. We hope to begin in-person learning through the Hybrid model in October (pending approval of the school board in consultation with state and local health officials). You may also see this referred to as “in-person learning” or “face to face learning”.

  • Asynchronous Learning - This refers to lessons that are completed at home without teacher support. Asynchronous lessons are the lessons students will receive on days when they are not scheduled to meet with their teacher or attend the school in-person.

  • Synchronous learning - This refers to lessons that are directly instructed by a teacher, either in person at the building or through live, online teaching (often in Google Meet).

  • Canvas - Canvas is the Learning Management System (LMS) that Stafford County will use to manage all online learning this year. Your child will learn how to log into Canvas and access the assignments. Canvas will be your starting point for all of the online learning and will be crucial for students enrolled for Virtual Learning and for asynchronous days within the hybrid model.

  • Google Meet - Google Meet is a videoconferencing platform that is available to our staff and students. It is the primary way that we will deliver synchronous, online instruction. Students will receive a Meet nickname that they will use to enter the Meet.


As the new school year approaches, we are all aware that school will look different this year. Buildings will have strict rules related to access to the campus, movement in the building and classroom, social distancing, and more. There are several things that families can do to help prepare students for new realities within the building, including:

  • Practice wearing a face covering. The School Board has adopted a face covering policy for all students and staff. This will result in students and staff wearing a face covering for long periods of time. Having your child practice wearing their face covering and instructing them on leaving it in place and refraining from excessive touching of the covering will be useful.

  • Practice opening and closing lunch and snack packaging. Lunch will take place in the classroom so students who can independently open and close lunch boxes, bags, straws, etc will be a great help to the classroom teacher.

  • Practice proper hand-washing. Students will be washing their hands frequently so having your child practice properly scrubbing all parts of their hands as well as washing their hands for at least 20 seconds will be very useful. The CDC website had several helpful videos to help in sharing this information with your child. Click here to check out their website.

  • Ensure your child can independently tie or velcro their shoes (always a useful skill for any student!)


On a final note, I want to mention that I will be recording a virtual Town Hall to answer questions from our families. The video of the Town Hall will be posted on August 17. I am seeking questions from families for the Town Hall. If you have any questions, please use this link to submit them: https://forms.gle/2bQYgN9pqFx7WDLUA

We look forward to a great school year and hope to see all of you soon! Also, be on the lookout for our next summer newsletter which will include information about our planned orientations for the upcoming year.


Stay safe!

Michael B. Sidebotham

Principal