HMES Back to School Resource Page

Updated August 31, 2021


The purpose of this document is to provide guidance as to the opening of HMES for the 2021-2022 school year. While this information is important, please also note that because of health metrics and guidance from organizations such as the CDC, VDH, local health department and PWCS, our safety measures may have to evolve.

I highly suggest you bookmark this newsletter on your computer so you can refer to it often. There is a great deal of information below.

Here are some general highlights for the coming school year before going into more detail below:

  • All students will be expected to attend classes five days a week Monday-Friday. Intent is to return to “normal” operations with adjustments.
  • PWCS is now a one-to-one school division, and all students will be provided laptops. Students will use school issued laptops for both in-person and virtual learning.
  • Canvas will be used as the learning management system for both in-person and virtual learners.
  • The Hub (Parent/StudentVUE) will remain the platform for tracking grades and other student information.
  • Free at-home internet will be available for any student with need.
  • Per state rules, students who have opted for virtual must be allowed to seamlessly transition back to in-person learning at any time; however, the reverse does not apply. Students who have not chosen the virtual option will not be permitted to change to virtual (with very limited exception such as documented medical need).
  • Students who choose virtual will be allowed to participate in out-of-school time activities that are offered in-person (i.e. enrichment activities, tutoring etc.).

Mask Guidance

Universal indoor masking will be required in all PWCS schools at the start of the 2021-22 school year for all teachers, staff, students, and visitors to schools, regardless of vaccination status with some exceptions. Additional exceptions may include medical conditions or students whose disability may prevent masking. Through masking, our schools will be:

  • Maintaining a layer of mitigation for staff and students when physical distancing is not possible.
  • Significantly reducing potential disruption to the educational environment caused by student quarantines.
  • Providing time for vaccines to become available at all ages and for more students to receive vaccinations.
  • Reducing potential impacts to staffing due to employee illness or quarantine.

Many of us are experiencing pandemic fatigue and a real desire to return to normal. However, we are still in this together and will get through this. PWCS will continue monitoring both the CDC and VDH. As conditions and guidance change, we will be prepared to adjust mitigation policies in the best interest of our students and families.

Recommended - the areas below that say "recommended" mean that the it is not part of the Public Health Order. While we will recommend students to wear masks during indoor PE, we will not require them. Please know that if a child has his/her mask off during PE that it gets complicated with close contacts given the movement within a close space.

Please have your child wear a mask but also have an extra one in a plastic zip lock bag in their backpack.

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Daily Health Screening Questionnaires

  • PWCS will still require parents to monitor their children using the daily health screening questionnaire.
  • There is no need to hand anything into the school. We just ask if you find that your child has any symptoms that you keep them home and immediately alert the front office. Our amazing nurse, Kathy Stevens, will most likely follow up with a phone call depending on the symptoms that you note in your call or email.
  • This pertains to PWCS staff members as well.
  • The screener can be found on the Office of Student Health Services website HERE.

Cleaning and Mitigations Strategies

  • PWCS will continue current protocols of frequent cleaning of "high touch" surfaces and daily cleaning of classrooms. Custodians have been trained on this expectation and HMES has shown through inspections to be one of the best in PWCS!
  • Cleaning of railings and door handles will occur after arrival, after lunches, and in the evening at minimum.
  • Cleaning materials will be supplied to staff to allow for "on the spot" cleaning when necessary. Teachers are not required to clean surfaces between groups or classes.


  • Handwashing is encouraged and the preferred method of hand hygiene. When handwashing opportunities are not available, hand sanitizer can be used. Handwashing soap and hand sanitizer will be provided by the school.
  • Students can bring their own hand sanitizer for personal use but it is not a requirement.
  • Ventilation - site evaluations continue to be conducted on current equipment to ensure systems are bringing in a significant amount of outside air already required by code.
  • There are no physical distancing requirements, however, we will work to provide opportunities to maintain distance when possible.
  • Signage around the building will still be required by PWCS. This is an area that we "passed" with flying colors all last year as well.

When does someone who is a close contact have to quarantine?

UPDATED 8/31/21
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Bus Information

  • Bus will run at full capacity which is anywhere between 55-70 students (3 per seat). Masks are required per federal guidelines when riding a bus regardless of vaccination status.
  • There will be NO regularly scheduled double bus runs for any PWC Schools at this time. Double runs will only occur due to driver shortages. If you know anyone interested in driving, please let us know!
  • Drivers will continue to open windows when weather allows for frequent air exchanging.
  • Bus information is available in ParentVue. If you don't have bus information available, please call PWCS Transportation as we can't obtain that information for you.
  • Students will have assigned seats on the bus with K sitting in the front all the way back to 5th grade in the back. We will work with the drivers to assign students to sit next to others who are already in their class to promote podding.

Arrival Information

  • Students will be permitted to enter the building at 9:05am. Students should stay in their parent's car until they are dismissed by a HMES staff member.
  • Parents are asked to have their child exit the car on the passenger side for safety reasons. If you have a car seat on that side now, please either switch it to the other side or ensure your student can squeeze by between the passenger seat and car seat.
  • There is only one neighborhood that is within the walking zone (the Haymarket Landing neighborhood on the same side of the school). PWCS transportation informed us that it falls within the guidance that has been set forth by PWCS as a walking neighborhood.
  • Please DO NOT park on the side (left at the entrance) and walk your child to front of the building. We have daycare vans that drop kids off on the side as well as deliveries and need to allow for traffic flow as well as not cutting off buses trying to leave.
  • Students who ride the bus will be dismissed one bus at a time so the entrance way to the school doesn't turn into a bottle necking situation.
  • The tardy bell rings at 9:15am. Students will not be marked tardy if it is because of a bus being late.
  • A sign in the car lane will be posted when the time has passed for arrivals. If you arrive after 9:15am, you will need to walk your child to the entrance and sign them in.
  • See the map below that note car and bus loops.
  • Because of the high volume of cars we will be weaving traffic through the parking lot (see diagram below).
  • Please have your child exit the car on their own when you are near the yellow strip on the sidewalk in the unloading area. Do not wait for a staff member to open the door as there are only so many of us that can help! We appreciate your help with this and we will do our best to open doors as quickly as possible so everyone get smiling eyes when they arrive!
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  • This process is to new us since this is the first time HMES has had walkers in the 8 years of being open.
  • Students who live on the following streets will be walkers unless special education transportation was setup in accordance with a child's IEP:
  • Haymarket Landing Drive, Hunter Hollow Court, Northbourne Court, Stroud Lane, Collin Point Drive
  • See picture above as to where to pick up your child if they are a walker (the star is the meeting location)
  • This is subject to change based on many factors.
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  • Breakfast will be free for all students during the 2021-2022 school year thanks to federal grant funding.
  • Upon entering the building, students will have the option for a "grab and go" breakfast.
  • Students will eat in their classrooms due to limited space and seating in the cafeteria.
  • Menus can be found by clicking HERE.


  • Hallway travel by students will operate under pre-pandemic guidelines.
  • During arrival and dismissal, teachers will be at their doors and/or in other duty locations to assist and monitor students.
  • When students need to go somewhere during the day (i.e. the office, the library), they will walk with a buddy or adult at all times.
  • There will not be tape on the floor as there was last year.
  • If a student is experiencing any symptoms directly related to COVID, Nurse Kathy or a designated staff will go and get the student from the classroom.


  • Classroom capacity will operate under pre-pandemic numbers and continue to adhere to the VDOE Standards of Quality for class sizes limitations.
  • Learning is social in nature, so our teachers will go back to small groupings of students when possible. Those classrooms with desks will most likely be in groups of 4 all facing inwards as the distance between the chairs will be 3 feet. Although social distancing is not officially occurring our teachers will be mindful of what they can do with the number of students they have in their class.

Water Fountains

  • Until further notice, our water fountains will bagged up and not be able to be used.
  • Please have your child bring a reusable water bottle each day as we have multiple bottle filling stations throughout the building.

Bathrooms - upstairs and shared

  • As with last year, shared bathrooms will allow a specific amount of students in at a time.
  • Students should use their elbow to turn on the wall light outside the bathroom noting that they are in there and then use their elbow to turn it off when leaving.
  • Students in grades 3-5 will sign out in their classroom before leaving to use the shared hallway restrooms.
  • This mainly pertains to the 3rd-5th graders, but there are bathrooms throughout the building that our little ones will be using.
  • Teachers will routinely teach this skill to our students.
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  • All lunches will be free for the 2021-2022 school year thanks to federal grant money.
  • Students will wash their hands and/or sanitize before going into the cafeteria and before leaving after lunch.
  • The cafeteria will run as it did pre-pandemic, including having students go through the line to get their food.
  • If students are at the traditional cafeteria tables, they will be assigned 4 tables, with 2 that are "allergy aware" tables (students who have allergies sit here along with those eating school lunches since all lunches in PWCS are tree nut and peanut free) and 2 "regular" tables (students who bring their lunches and those buying school lunches can sit here). Students will not be punching numbers into the computer like in the past due to everything being free. Teachers know who their allergy students are and so do the cafeteria hostesses.
  • Alternate eating locations include the stage and the auxiliary gym. Students that are close to 3ft will have plexiglass barriers between in these locations.
  • Students will not be wearing masks when actively eating or drinking. When they are done they will be asked to put their face covering back on.
  • At this time, seconds or additional purchases will not be permitted.
  • Due to the inability to keep students 6ft away without masks in the cafeteria, when close contacts are identified, many will be from this area.
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  • Recess will continue to follow PWCS Regulations in terms of the amount of time required per day (30 minutes). Physical activity is important for the all around success of our students. Masks breaks may be added by individual teachers (weather pending).
  • Teachers will work together to ensure that their classes are playing in specific areas during recess ("podding"). We have two playgrounds, the black top between them, the basketball court, and a large class per area with them rotating so everyone gets to experience each activity space.
  • Due to spacing, grade levels may be rotating inside/outside recess (the field gets really soaked after it rains!)
  • Students will not be required to wear masks at recess at this time in order to align with other schools. Please keep in mind that this may change due to observed behaviors and ability to socially distance at recess (per PWCS masking guidance).

Volunteers and Guests

  • At this time we will be severely limiting who is able to come in the building.
  • Volunteering in classrooms will be put on hold at this time. Please consider reaching out to your child's teacher with ways you can help from home...they can always send things home with your child!
  • Lunch guests will not be permitted at this time due to many factors.

Instructional and P.E. Materials

  • Instructional materials will be able to be shared at this time.
  • In the case of centers, students will be asked to sanitize or wash their hands before going to the next station in which they may have to use the same materials as the group before.
  • The same goes for P.E. Students will sanitize upon entering the gym and do the same before leaving. We will constantly and consistently remind students to keep their hands away from their eyes, mouths (covered by masks), etc.


  • Dismissal will follow pre-pandemic routines.
  • Our K and 1st grade students will be walked up to the bus and physically put on the correct bus by their teacher.
  • Students in grades 2nd-5th will be dismissed by bus using a silent dismissal routine that proved helpful in the past.
  • There will be staff members throughout the building urging social distancing when possible during dismissal.
  • As a reminder, no Kindergarten student will be allowed to get off the bus unless there is a parent or adult on our Kindergarten dismissal form that is physically present at the bus stop (not at a house waving to the driver). If there isn't someone there, then they will be brought back to HMES.
  • We will continue to communicate late buses, but please know that it is VERY difficult for us to hold buses to take kids off of if you arrive while the bus is loading. It will get better!
  • Parents without car riders numbers will have to pull forward to the "Low Emission" parking area while we find your student. This will take time as we are dismissing over 800 students, so please be patient with us as safety is #1.


  • Teachers will continue to be in close contact with you all regarding your child's academic and social progress throughout the year.
  • I will continue to share monthly Haymarket Happenings newsletters as well as needed updates through our emailing/texting system.
  • Our Facebook and Twitter (@haymarketcubs) pages are also great sources of information.
  • We will continue with the communication like last year if there is a case at HMES. Close contacts will be notified first and then a community email will be sent out. More information regarding close contacts and quarantining will come from PWCS in the near future.
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