April 9, 2021 Edition
Message from the Superintendent
As we prepare to transition into expanded in-person learning next week, I want to again say thank you to our families, staff, and students for continuing to work together in support of our mission. In a year that for many has felt like two, we are poised to finish this remarkable and challenging school year strong.
Throughout this unprecedented time period, two themes/needs have been constant; the fluid and changing nature of conditions, circumstances, and adjustments in our plan and the importance of communicating and engaging our students, parents, and staff in understanding and adapting to those changes. Following this week’s updates, we will again integrate weekly messages into our school newsletters. Prior to another important change, we wanted to highlight the information below regarding the expansion of in-person learning, standardized testing, planning for graduation ceremonies, and other pertinent updates.
Hybrid Student Four Day a Week In-Person Instruction
As a reminder, on March 8, 2021, the school board approved the recommended expansion of our hybrid program from 2-days of in-person instruction to 4-days of in-person instruction. This transition takes place this Monday, April 12, 2021, for students at all grade levels, preK-12. Students who are currently 100% virtual will remain in that instruction mode for the remainder of this school year.
In March, the CDC and VDH updated the social distancing requirement to allow for as little as three feet of space between students, with six feet still preferred. However, to accommodate all students, it may be necessary for some students to sit two per seat on buses. We will make every effort to place siblings together in those situations. Earlier in the week, a separate communication was sent out to parents regarding transportation services.
Our schools have been working to ensure continued vigilance with the prevention measures that have enabled us to provide pre-k-12 hybrid in-person learning. For classrooms and instructional settings where at least three feet cannot be maintained or more distance is required, our schools have plexiglass dividers to provide barriers as needed. For lunch, in addition to utilizing plexiglass barriers, many schools will be modifying lunch schedules or providing lunch in the classrooms to ensure that students remain six feet apart while eating.
In addition to social distancing, we will continue to follow all our prevention strategies, which include wearing face masks, frequent hand washing, and sanitizing the buildings. We have also completed the installation of the bi-polarization HVAC systems in each of our schools for better air quality. For more information, please refer to the Return to Learn Addendum linked here.
Our COVID-19 Dashboard is updated daily and can be viewed in the Return to Learn section on each school’s website or by clicking this link: SCPS COVID-19 Dashboard. Also, on our webpage is a link to the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) Dashboard. This site provides data and statistics regarding COVID-19 positivity rates and cases per 100,000 by locality, region, and state.
It is important to note that our school board requested that a letter be to the Virginia Department of Education and the Federal Department of Education requesting standardized testing be waived for this school year. However at this time, Federal and State assessment testing will be conducted this year. Specific information was sent home from your child’s school earlier this week regarding testing details.
Graduation Ceremonies for the Class of 2021
Governor Northam has issued preliminary guidance on safe in-person graduations and commencements. Over the past couple of weeks, our high school principals have met to review this guidance and discuss graduation options. Students and parents have also been surveyed regarding preferences in terms of options given the current guidance.
In addition to a number of other topics, the school board will receive an update on graduation planning during the Return to Learn Plan report at Monday’s School Board meeting (April 12th).
We are also considering and exploring additional ways to celebrate our seniors. These plans are being developed in collaboration with seniors and parents. We hope to provide more information on those plans with you soon.
School Board Meeting, FY2022 Budget Information & Upcoming Critical Dates:
This Monday, April 12th beginning at 6:30, the school board will hold its monthly general meeting. At that meeting, we will provide a number of special reports including updates on the Return to Learn Plan, Robert E. Lee renaming process and status, Food Service program, Local Career and Technical Education Plan, and Local Special Education Plan.
School Board meetings can be viewed online at https://www.regionalwebtv.com/spotsysb. Meetings are live-streamed. Recordings of each meeting may be accessed at the same link. Additionally, meetings may be viewed on cable channels: Comcast Channel 17, Cox Channel 18, and Verizon Channel 36.
Please see the detailed calendar of additional dates critical to the process here: FY 2022 Approved Critical Budget Dates.
2021 Summer Institute Registration is Now Open
We are pleased to present various learning opportunities this summer for our students to participate in. Whether for enrichment or remediation, our Summer Institutes are geared toward fostering connections and skill development. Information can be found by clicking on our division web page or by simply clicking the following link:
SEF Race for Education
This year’s Race for Education will be virtual. This family-friendly 5K and 1 Mile Fun Run/Walk raises funds to enhance the quality and impact of student learning experiences in Spotsylvania County Public Schools (SCPS) through the Spotsylvania Education Foundation (SEF). Participants will complete their 5K or 1 Mile during April 16-18. All participants will be eligible for prizes and one elementary, one middle, and one high school will each receive $300 for the most school participation. For complete details or to register for the race go to: https://runsignup.com/Race/VA/Fredericksburg/SpotsyRaceForEducation.
Our system-wide focus continues to be on supporting the needs of the whole child in both completing this school year and in planning for the future. Our parent, teacher, and student (STAND) advisory teams have been instrumental in providing us with valuable feedback and ideas for how we can positively transfer what has been effective this year as well as making needed improvements as we move forward.
Despite so many challenges, our staff and students have continually and courageously stepped up to maintain and enhance the quality of teaching and learning. Everyday, I become aware of another powerful illustration of our teachers, leaders, and support staff making a positive difference in the learning and life of a student. As a system, Spotsylvania County Public Schools was again recognized this week as a 2021 NAAM Award Winner as one of the Best School Communities for Music in the nation. Thank you for your continued support and frequent testimonials for the work of our fine staff!
Please let us know how we can provide assistance as we close out this school year. We are looking forward to a great day on Monday and a week of engagement and fun in our schools and classrooms!
Dr. S. Scott Baker
Superintendent of Schools