Hollymead Buzz

A Newsletter for Parents

December 18, 2020

Kids are amazing!

Dear Hollymead Families,

As we head toward our winter break, I wanted to celebrate our students. Over the past few weeks, I've had a great time checking in on their learning, and seeing amazing things.

Kindergartners have been listening intently to stories of the Ninjabread Man. I even got to practice my ninja skills in sneaking up on Mrs. Peck. Fifth graders who were definitely sad to not create the winter Sound and Light Parade had a great time building some roller coasters instead and making movies. I was impressed with their film making expertise. The examples are endless from hearing about "magic" slime ingredients in second grade, or seeing Parthenon models in third grade and listening to how some students made theirs more sturdy, fourth grade making snowball launchers, and first grade doing virtual and live experiments and math explorations.

The most heartening thing I've seen is students asking questions. As long as they continue with our curiosity, we will have learning. There is and will be much work to be done to support students to close any learning loss that is occurring, but make no mistake, our students are engaging, learning, and finding some joy in a difficult time. They, more than anything else this Fall, bring me joy and hope for the New Year.

It is always a good time to be an educator, because of our students. It is no different during a pandemic - students are amazing - thank you for letting us work with yours! We hope you have a restful and peaceful break.

Stay safe,

Craig Dommer


Planning for Stage 4

We did have our Stage 4 FAQ yesterday. Unfortunately there was a problem with the video. Here are some resources and FAQs. If you have specific questions, please feel free to contact us.

Stage 4 Hollymead FAQ

Is stage 4 going to be 2 days of in-school learning, or 4?

For all PreK-2 students it will be 4. For students 3-5, it will be 2-4 depending on the staffing we have available to us, and the numbers of students who want to access in-person learning. For grades 3-5 we will prioritize A-Base, B-Base, C-Base, and ESOL students for 4 days per week. This decision on 2 days or 4 days will be made by the school division and known before the Superintendent makes his recommendation on January 14th.

What will the in person day look like?

Students will be in a classroom with a teacher for the majority of the day. They will participate in Language Arts, Math, Social Studies, Science, and have a morning and closing meeting, 3 recess breaks, and a lunch. Desks and tables are 6 feet apart, and we also have spots marked on the floor in the classroom and in the hallway to keep students at a proper distance. Each student has a container of individual materials and supplies. If students are in 4 days per week, then they will spend some time with a co-teacher doing independent work, practice, read-alouds, and their specials activity.

Will students have to wear masks all the time?

All staff and students are expected to wear masks. Students can have mask breaks when they are outside and distanced, during lunch, and if they need one during class, a teacher can make arrangements. We have been very successful thus far with our mask protocol.

What would the at home day look like?

If a student is in a 2-day per week then, for the at-home day, work will be provided by a teacher. We will work to have a staff member have a morning meeting on those days with students to make sure that they are set up well to complete their at-home tasks consisting of independent practice, projects, reading, ST Math, etc.

What will the virtual day look like?

The virtual day will largely look the same. Synchronous instruction in the AM or PM, and independent work and specials during the opposite block. During Stage 4, specials classes - Art, Music, PE, Library, will not be synchronous and will instead involve things like a choice board and submitting assignments via SeeSaw. Intervention services may also be impacted.

What are the times of the days?

Virtual will largely be the same. In-person days will begin at 7:45 and end about 2:25. We have 3 entrances and exits for buses, walkers, and car riders, so we start letting students in at 7:40, and begin dismissal with car-pickups at 2:25 depending on how many there are (we dismiss car riders individually from classes, so it can take some time.) Bus riders are dismissed at 2:30, and walkers after the buses leave at approximately 2:35.

How many kids are in a class?

The max number of kids in a hybrid section is 11, and virtual sections don't technically have a cap, but right now are between 8 and 16.

How does lunch and recess work?

Each class has a designated outdoor space for lunch, where they sit at least 6 feet apart and remove their mask to eat. If the weather won't allow for outdoor eating, students eat in the classrooms with masks off and usually view something on screen to limit talking for safety. Recess occurs 3 times per day. Students remain masked in order to play with one another. If they'd like a mask break they can remove their mask if they're not playing within 10 feet of one another.

Will I have a new teacher?

It depends on how many students select hybrid in stage 4, and how many teachers need accommodations to continue working virtually. We will have class assignments to you by the last week of January if the Board moves to have Stage 4 begin February 4th. We will try to have as many students stay with their teacher as possible.

What does co-teacher mean? Who will that be?

For all students coming 4 days per week, a class will have a co-teacher. We will utilize teaching assistants, specials teachers, and interventionists to be co-teachers?

What about specials?

In Stage 4, specials will be taught asynchronously for virtual students, and classroom and co-teachers will implement the asynchronous lessons in school.

What about intervention?

Intervention may be more limited in Stage 4.

What happens if someone gets sick?

If a student is sick with symptoms they are sent home until a doctor submits a form for their return or 10 days after the symptom started. If a student tests positive for COVID-19 and has been with their class within 2 days prior, then the class would be quarantined and instruction would be virtual for 2 weeks.

What if I change my mind?

We will always work to accommodate changes based on space and teacher availability. Thus far, we've accommodated all requests for changes.

Really, who will be my student's teacher?

We really don't know. We staff to meet student requests, so we won't know how many and which teachers we need until we have student choices.

What if I really don't want to change teachers?

If keeping your current teacher is your #1 priority - and you are TOTALLY flexible on hybrid or virtual, email me and Mrs. Morris at cdommer@k12lbemarle.org and lmorris@k12albemarle.org, and we will accommodate that request. We had several of those for Stage 3, and they all worked out.

What if we have other questions?

Contact us!

Library Checkout

We are very excited about starting library circulation next week. Checking out books from the library will be different this year. The Hollymead library will be using a system of picking up and dropping off books on Fridays from 10:30 to 2:30 at the front of school. This system is similar to one used by the public library.

How many books may students check out and how long may they check them out for?

Each student will be allowed to check out five books at a time and the books will be checked out for one month. Please be considerate and return your old library books so that other students may read them.

How will the students select books?

Students will select books by using our library catalog. You can find it by going to the Hollymead library webpage and clicking on the Follett Destiny Library System icon. Once you are in the catalog, you will need to log in using your school username and password. After that you can search for the books that you want to check out. You will notice a hold symbol in the corner of the book cover icons. When you click on that hold symbol, the book will automatically be placed on hold for you and a notification will be sent to the librarian. The hold message may include a date that you should ignore.

You may also email the titles of the books that you want to the librarian to check out for you. It is important to place your books on hold or email the librarian before Thursday at 2:30.

How will the students know if their selections were available and checked out to them?

The librarian will check out your selected library books and place them in a bag with your name on it. She will email you to confirm that your book selections were available and checked out to you. She will also tell you the date of when the books may be picked up. Library book pick-up and drop-off will be held every Friday from 10:30 to 2:30 in the front of school.

How will we return the library books?

We will also be collecting those on Fridays from 10:30 to 2:30. Remember to return your old library books so you may check out new ones.

Will the library circulation system always work this way?

In the future, we may need to make adjustments to this library circulation system depending on the demand for library books and other factors like the weather. We will send out updates as appropriate.

What if I need help or have questions?

If you have questions or need help, you may email me at jcrone@k12albemarle.org. You may also come to the Library Help Time Zoom sessions. They are held Monday through Thursday from 11:00 to 11:30 and from 2:30 to 3:00. Check Seesaw for the links.

Hollymead Virtual Student Learning Handbook

Here is the official handbook supplement to cover virtual learning. It is the same at each school, and hope it provides some clarity. It may be modified as we learn and grow through this experience.

Seesaw and Zoom

Seesaw and Zoom will be the critical tools for virtual learning. Teachers have been working so hard to improve the Seesaw experience from the spring, and we expect that the daily interaction of students and teachers over Zoom to be critical in making this Fall a success. Please see the links below that the Department of Technology has created for Seesaw and Zoom to help you at home.


Zoom for IPADS

Zoom for Computers (school laptops in particular)

If there are technology hardware or software issues with your device, please call the school, or ACPS technology support directly at 434-975-9444 and we can work to get a repair ticket started for you.

Student Meals - 2020-21