January 31, 2021 Edition

Message from the Superintendent

I hope that this communication finds you and your family enjoying the weekend, perhaps watching the snowfall! We have completed the first month of our second semester. I remain so proud of our students, staff, and community for continuing to work together to support learning experiences during what has been one of the most difficult phases of this crisis to date.

Below are some announcements and reminders as we look to the week ahead:

Announcements & Reminders

  • As was sent out in communications this past Wednesday, the school board voted to extend the distance/virtual learning mode for our students until March 1st.

    • What preceded this decision was a presentation from our staff and a discussion regarding new interim state guidance for reopening schools in the Commonwealth. The presentation is linked here and a reminder of how to access the archived board meetings is included later in this communication.

    • Pertinent to the discussion and aforementioned decision was the concern regarding the current and continuing impact of the virus on our staff in terms of both positive cases and required quarantining. Even since Tuesday’s meeting, we have continued to have a number of additional impacts on our staff.

    • Following an entire quarter of hybrid in-person learning where we were able to effectively implement the recommended mitigation strategies, the recent surge in cases has affected our operational capacity.

    • Though our in-person learning for prioritized learners was also paused, we are actively working to try and return this group of students back within the next two weeks. In addition, as we monitor both the impact of COVID-19 on our staffing/operations and the local health metrics, should we be able to resume additional hybrid in-person learning opportunities sooner, please know that we will recommend doing so as soon as possible.

    • The on-going challenges of this pandemic, including shifting/changing guidance, have made it extraordinarily difficult on our students, staff, and families. Thank you for continuing to reach out with feedback, both positive and constructive, to assist our division leadership in navigating this time period.

    • At the onset of this pandemic, we could not have predicted the twists and turns along the path, nor the length of time that we would be navigating these waters. Please know that as individual schools and a system, we remain vigilant to assist with academic, social, and emotional needs of our students and families. We may have access to resources that can support your child/ren and family. Please reach out to us.

  • The weather forecast notes some significant snow and ice headed our way on Sunday continuing through potentially Monday or Tuesday. While we are in a virtual setting, some families, students, and staff may wonder if there is the possibility of school closures. The simple answer is yes.

    • We may still need to implement school closure codes even though our students are virtual because our school buildings are open for teachers to access their classrooms and teaching supplies as the impact of inclement weather may create unsafe road conditions and/or power outages.

    • Additionally, some students come into our buildings to utilize internet connectivity. If we experience a significant weather event, it would not be safe for employees or students to come to our schools. Once the roads are navigable, the school weather codes may change. For example, we may be able to have an asynchronous day or possibly keep the virtual experience. Please stay tuned as we send out communications should they be necessary.

  • As a reminder, our COVID-19 Dashboard is updated weekly 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.

  • I want to acknowledge our partnership with Spotsylvania Emergency Management and local health district in providing the vaccination clinic at Massaponax High School this past Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. In terms of our staff, over 500 were able to receive their first dose of the vaccination, added to the over 1,300 already confirmed to have received their first dose through Mary Washington HealthCare over the previous two weeks.

  • Important Budget Dates for Information & Engagement: On January 26th, the school board received the Superintendent’s Proposed FY2022 Budget. Then on January 28th, the school board engaged in a budget work session to ask questions and engage with division staff regarding the proposed budget. The budget presentation is linked here.

As a reminder, the below are upcoming budget dates:

  • Feb 01 - The Budget Public Hearing. In this step, all members of our community are invited to share their thoughts, recommendations, and feedback regarding the proposed budget.

  • Feb 03 - This date was set as a make-up date given that Monday’s scheduled meeting could be impacted by inclement weather.

  • Feb 08 - At this school board’s general monthly meeting, one of the action items will be the school board’s approval of the FY2022 budget.

  • Please see the detailed calendar here: FY 2022 Approved Critical Budget Dates

  • School Board meetings can be viewed online at 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.

We are excited to share that this week it was announced that Cedar Forest Elementary was awarded the 2021 National High-Flying School designation! Cedar Forest was one of 3 schools to receive this award across the nation based on the school’s achievement while serving a high percentage of students considered at risk. Congrats to the entire school community!

Have a great week!

Dr. S. Scott Baker