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Image of girl adjusting mask nosepiece from CDC

Updates and Safety Reminders from Dr. Gurley for Returning to School, 1/9

Dear staff and families–

We are looking forward to welcoming students and staff back to school. After reviewing current road conditions and the forecast, we expect to start school on time tomorrow. As always, please have a plan for any unexpected delays or closures announced in the morning by 5:30am. As a reminder, bus-riders will have new schedules tomorrow (see below).

I wanted to check in with a few updates and COVID safety reminders:

Image of CCS student daily health screening questions. Click for OCR PDF.
Daily Health Screening Questions for Students

When Should Your Child Stay Home?

  • If your students have any COVID symptoms, they should stay home until seen by a healthcare provider. A negative PCR test or a note from the healthcare provider is required for the student to return to school.
  • If your children are not fully vaccinated, they should also stay home if exposed or if anyone in your household is showing possible COVID symptoms. 
  • We are maintaining the 14-day period for exposure and the 10-day period for diagnosis.
  • Questions? Refer to our COVID situations guide or call your school.
  • If in doubt, sit it out!

 

Image of girl adjusting mask nosepiece from CDCLevel Up your Masking Game!
The latest guidance says that high-quality masking over the mouth and nose is important. 

  • For some people, that might mean wearing one KN95 (no valves)
  • For others, that might mean double-masking with a paper mask and a cloth mask 
  • Others may wear a multiple-layered cloth mask
  • There is no need to wear 2 paper masks
  • A nose piece to ensure a tight fit is recommended
  • As always, we will have masks at school for those who need them
  • Click here for more CDC masking guidance

 

School-Based COVID TestingSay Yes to the Test!
Remember that you can sign your child up for free PCR COVID-testing at school. You choose how often (weekly, every other week, and monthly). Learn more and sign up here.

 

Updates on In-Person School/Classroom Indicators

  • Staffing: at this time, all schools have adequate staffing in place.
  • School COVID levels/spread: On our COVID dashboard, you will see a spike in the week ending 1/7, after we reminded families and staff to report cases over winter break. (Cases are shown on the date reported, not the date diagnosed.) Keep in mind that when we and the Blue Ridge Health District evaluate this indicator, the most crucial factor is not whether staff and students report COVID cases, but whether COVID is spreading at school.
  • Absence rates: We will be following this information as we return to school.

 

Reminder: New Bus Routes
If you’ve been notified that you have a bus spot, you can find your bus information in your previous messages (a reminder was sent on Wednesday). With new routes, some new drivers, and winter roads, please expect some delays. Thanks in advance for your patience, especially for those of you who are still on the waiting list.

 

Make-up Days for Last Week’s Snowdays?
We will not need to make up the four snowdays from last week. We have banked hours that will cover these days.

 

Virginia School Principals Appreciation Week
Finally, I want to ask you to join me in celebrating our principals this week. They continue to show leadership in unprecedented ways – tracing COVID exposures, running COVID testing programs, creating virtual learning plans, and so much more. All the while, they continue to offer instructional leadership, manage large teams, attend to student needs, and so much more. Consider a note of encouragement to your principal this week, either via email or on one of our upcoming social media posts.

Portrait with and without mask by Jai, gr 3, Clark Elementary.
Portrait can be folded to show (or uncover) mask, courtesy Jai, gr 3, Clark Elementary

A Final Word
I appreciate each of you, your commitment to our schools, and your commitment to one another’s physical and emotional wellbeing. As we ask you to recommit to efforts such as vaccination (and boosters), masking, staying home when needed, and more, know that school leaders are doing our part to maintain excellent ventilation, continue best practices, and monitor our school indicators. We are committed to the safety and learning of our students and staff.

Let’s make it a great Monday!

Dr. Royal A. Gurley, Jr.

School-Based COVID Testing

Sign Up for FREE School-Based COVID Testing Programs — Registration Remains Open

Revised January 10, 2022

Related Topics:

Logins/How to Login:

Opportunity to Participate in Free In-School COVID-19 Screening Testing

Good news! The state has changed our school-based COVID-19 screening testing program so that participants will have individual (not grouped) PCR tests. This testing can bring you peace of mind and helps keep our schools safe. Families and staff can still sign up for either screening testing (when healthy) or diagnostic testing (when symptoms appear at school or following exposure). We will add new registrants to the program as soon as possible.

Want to re-enroll? Complete the form again.

Sign Up Here!

 

Screening Testing for People without Symptoms

The voluntary program offers regularly scheduled individual COVID tests at school (during the school day) to identify infected people who may be symptom-free. Testing is one more layer of protection, along with wearing masks, staying home if there are any symptoms/risk factors, maintaining good ventilation, and more. Everyone is encouraged to participate. (Initially, the state planned a “group” or “pooled” testing program, but now the plan is to test everyone individually.)

Diagnostic Testing

We also partner with the state to offer voluntary diagnostic testing in cases of symptoms/exposure. See the Frequently Asked Questions for more information about diagnostic testing for exposed/symptomatic people. The permission form gives the option of agreeing to one or both of the testing programs.

More Information

  • To learn more, scroll down to read our Frequently Asked Questions.
  • Registration is ongoing; if you enroll after Monday of each week, you’ll be enrolled for the following week.
  • Click to see weekly schedule.
  • Our vendor is NEXT Molecular.
  • The program is opt-in, per state guidelines. This is a state-run program.
  • Thanks to our partners on this project, the Virginia Department of Education and the Virginia Department of Health. And thanks to our other partners – our students, families, and staff!

Sign Up Here!

illustration of linguistic charactersTranslation Traducción ترجمة Tafsiri अनुवाद ترجمه

Translators and interpreters are available. Our web site and the sign-up form can be translated with Google. Call or email your school for help. You can also text 434-953-1802.

Si tiene preguntas acerca de las escuelas de Charlottesville, llame a nuestra línea telefónica en español al 434-245-2548. Un profesor de español le devolverá la llamada. 


Frequently Asked Questions

 

How do I sign up?

Complete this form. We hope everyone – vaccinated and unvaccinated people — will sign up for screening testing, but we will only test those staff and students who complete the consent form, per state guidelines. Need a paper copy of the permission form? Contact or visit your school. The form allows you to sign up for the regularly scheduled screening testing and/or the diagnostic testing in case of symptoms/exposure.

Does the test hurt?

This is a shallow swab, not the deep nasal swab. One state employee noted, “The swab is less invasive than a child picking their nose.” (And this is the only time you will see the phrase “picking their nose” in a Cville Schools publication, we hope.)

How does screening testing work, generally speaking?

Our partners, Next Molecular, will visit each school at the same time each week (see planned schedule, below). Schools will send participants to the vendors to have a shallow nose swab. Results should be reported to families (and the health department) within 24-48 hours. Participants will be tested weekly unless you request a less frequent schedule by telling your school nurse or noting it on the form. Because this testing is conducted on symptom-free people, they can continue attending school while waiting on results (unless they develop symptoms).

Can I learn more about how screening testing works?

Vendors provided by the Virginia Department of Health will conduct individual PCR testing during school hours on a set schedule. Our vendor, Next Molecular,  will provide trained staff to swab the front of the student’s nose. This is a non-invasive shallow swab.  Participants will be tested weekly unless you request a less frequent schedule by telling your school nurse or noting it on the form. One principle of the program is that students or staff can change their mind about being tested, even if they or their family previously gave permission.

Where will testing take place?

Testing will take place at school during regular school hours (see schedule, below). We have established well ventilated testing areas. Screened testing will take place once per week, but you can set a different schedule when you complete the permission form.  Registration will remain open for those who choose to join later.

What’s the weekly schedule?

Our initial weekly schedule will be as follows. Please note that we might revise this schedule as needed:

Wednesdays

  • Burnley-Moran Elementary, 7:30-10:00
  • Charlottesville High School, 10:30-1:30 (students should stop by testing table in A Commons during lunch)

Thursdays

  • Clark Elementary, 7:30-9:00
  • Jackson-Via Elementary, 9:30-11:00
  • Johnson Elementary, 11:15-12:30
  • Buford Middle School, 1:30-2:45

Fridays

  • Venable Elementary plus Lugo McGinness Academy, 7:30-9:30
  • Greenbrier Elementary, 10:00-12:00
  • Walker Upper Elementary School, 12:30-2:45

When will I receive results? Who is notified?

Each time your student is tested, for a negative (no COVID) result, you’ll receive an email within 24-48 hours. If your student tests positive, you’ll get a phone call before the group email goes out.

If a screening test is positive, the result will be reported to the family, the school, the BRHD, and the Virginia Department of Health.

Can my student remain in school while they wait on their screening test result?

Because this testing is conducted on symptom-free people, they can continue attending school while waiting on results (unless they develop symptoms). If a positive test result comes back while the child is in school, we will contact the family to arrange prompt pick-up.

When will screening testing start?

We started during the week of November 3-5.  Registration remains open.

How is screening testing helpful?

Screening testing is one strategy recommended by the CDC to control the spread of COVID. Screening testing helps us identify symptom-free people who could potentially spread the virus. For some people, proactive testing is also a relief, a periodic check to know that you or your child doesn’t have COVID. Remember, screening testing is only one strategy — we will continue to mask, require daily screening for symptoms/risk factors, keep our upgraded ventilation systems in good working order, follow protocols, and more.

How often does a student or staff member get tested?

You set the frequency when you complete the sign-up form (weekly, every other week, once a month) — and participants can always decline a weekly test, as well.  

What about diagnostic testing?

In addition to screening testing, we are partnering with the state to offer free diagnostic testing for people who start showing symptoms at school or for vaccinated people who have been exposed.

The COVID testing permission form gives the option of agreeing to either the screening or the diagnostic testing programs. Both programs are funded by a partnership with the Virginia Departments of Health and Education.

What about diagnostic testing for people who start symptoms at school?

Free diagnostic testing may be offered to those who develop symptoms during the school day. Family permission would be verified prior to testing. Depending on program guidelines, we would offer either the 15-minute rapid antigen test called BinaxNOW or a mail-in PCR kit called “Let’s Get Checked,” both of which also use a shallow nasal swab. While the BinaxNOW test is fast and useful, it is not as accurate as a PCR test, and symptomatic people testing negative on the rapid test should still follow up with a healthcare provider for guidance.

Remember, if your student feels ill or has symptoms of COVID-19 prior to the school day, keep your student home and check with a healthcare provider. When a sick child goes to school, this puts others in our school community at risk.

What about diagnostic testing for people who have been exposed?

Free diagnostic testing may be offered to vaccinated people who have been exposed 5-7 days after exposure, per CDC guidelines. Family permission would be verified prior to testing.

A final word

The information in this guide is subject to change based on emerging best practices, the capacity of our vendor, or guidance from local, state, and national medical experts.

Sign Up Here!

Updates to 21-22 Academic Calendar

On November 4, the School Board approved the following modifications to this year’s academic calendar. These changes are in keeping with school divisions across the country.

Approved Changes to the SY 21-22 Calendar

1/21/2022

Will become a full day in school for students.

2/21/2022

All schools and offices will be closed. (President’s Day)

3/18/2022 

Will become a Teacher Work Day (student holiday).

4/01/2022

Will become Teacher Work Day (student holiday).

Our Google Academic Calendar has now been changed (you can subscribe to it!).  You can find a PDF of the revised calendar here.

Revised Academic Calendar for 21-22. Posted as a PDF on the page and Google Academic Calendar is updated. Call 245-2400 with questions.

About These Changes

These changes are in keeping with efforts across the country to support instructional staff during a challenging year with extra work due to COVID protocols, shortages in areas such as substitute teachers, and more. Aside from these calendar changes, we are also supporting staff by raising pay to attract more substitute teachers, giving flexibility to do most professional learning from home or remotely, and more.

As Dr. Gurley explained in a staff email:

Greetings #TeamCCS,

As always, I believe that I must say the most important thing first. I am eternally grateful that you show up each and every day to ensure the success of all of our children. We work in an industry where people have choices and you choose Charlottesville City Schools daily.

Now more than ever, school personnel have been tasked with more and more while having to balance the demands of your work and family. Recently, I asked a group of educators what is one thing you wish you had more of and they each replied, “time”.

From my time in the building as a classroom teacher and administrator, I can tell you that the longest stretch mentally for teachers was the time after the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday to spring break. Typically during this period, there are no planned days off and fatigue is common among many employees. In an effort to support our Culture of Care, I made the following recommendations to the School Board to provide you additional time to plan for your students, time to spend with your family, and time to provide yourself with care.

It is my hope that making these changes now will provide our staff, families, and community partners the opportunity to make adjustments, particularly as it relates to child care. Additionally, I hope our staff will find that the modifications made to the calendar will provide you more unencumbered time to focus on planning and self-care. As always, if you have any questions or concerns, you can contact me directly via email or at the district office (434) 245-2400. Lastly, I am thankful to the School Board for approving my recommendations as they equally value your contributions to CCS! #LeadWithLove

Best Regards,

Dr. Royal A. Gurley, Jr.

Screenshot of title page of New Safety Model video

School Safety Plan Archive

Superintendent Committee on School Safety/Security Resources

In the fall of 2020, then-superintendent Dr. Rosa Atkins appointed a number of superintendent committees to provide recommendations in three areas (COVID-19, school names, and school safety).  The committee for school safety/security resources was prompted in part by the schools and the Charlottesville Police Department jointly ending our 2016 Memorandum of Understanding for School Resource Officers (SRO’s). The committee’s goal was to recommend the best path forward for the near-term and longer-term.

Thanks to our community members and all those who  shared your feedback. You can still find the video and other materials on this page.

The final recommendation was to establish a team of care and safety assistants (CSAs) with deep relationships in the community to be an extra set of hands in the hallways and oversee safety  practices. The CSAs are trained in areas such as de-escalation, teen mental health first aide, safety procedures, and more. The plan also places more mental health professionals in our schools.  And finally, the plan relies on community partnership, including clearly defined situations when police will still come to schools to promote safety. Find our CCS/Charlottesville Police Department Protocols (2021).

Reporting on this Topic:

Final Recommendation to the Superintendent

At its meeting on May 6, the School Board voted to approve the new plan as recommended by the Superintendent Committee on School Safety.  At the committee’s final meeting on April 27, the CCS School Safety Committee made its final recommendation to the superintendent during a public meeting. You can watch the meeting here.

Final Recommendation

 

Brief Overview of Safety Model

  • Survey was closed on 5/5 to allow time to gather feedback for School Board prior to 5/6 vote. Find results in slides and documents, in “minutes, resources, and more.”

 

Accessibility and Other Languages

Full Script for Video

Overview of Proposed Model for School Safety
in Charlottesville City Schools (March 2021)

Background Information

In June 2020, Charlottesville’s School Board and Police Department agreed that we need a new model for school safety, one that does not place School Resource Officers, or SROs, in our schools. This decision supports our equity work and reflects current trends in school safety.

Safety remains our top priority, and there are many models for safety. Data does not indicate that having an SRO on site leads to better outcomes for either day-to-day events or emergencies.

Research-Based Ideas

What data does show is effective are many areas that Charlottesville has already committed to, such as:

  • Mental wellness
  • Intentional community-building and strong relationships
  • Common-sense building upgrades
  • Threat assessment teams and de-escalation skills to evaluate and manage situations as they arise
  • Restorative practices to restore good relationships, teach interpersonal skills, and minimize engagement with court systems

The Proposed Plan for Charlottesville Schools

In the fall, the Superintendent convened a committee of staff, students, family members and community members, many with relevant expertise. They were asked to research and recommend a new safety model.

As the committee worked, one model rose to the top. In Toronto, Canada, they removed school resource officers in 2017 and found success using school-hired safety monitors. In many cases, these safety monitors were already working in the schools or the community. These safety monitors are “more mentor than muscle.” They keep an eye on the facilities to make sure that doors are secured, and they walk the halls of the schools to offer a helpful hand as needed. They are trained in de-escalation, mental health, and safety procedures. In Charlottesville, the training of the safety monitors would be directed by the division, and they’d report to the building principals at Buford, CHS, and Lugo-McGinness Academy.

In addition to safety monitors, this model also increases focus on mental wellness and student supports. Due to a recent grant and the planned budget for 21-22, Charlottesville City Schools will add mental health or social work professionals on every level.

Following a revised memorandum of understanding, police will still come to schools when needed. We’ll also continue to partner with community organizations in Charlottesville because we work better together. We’ll keep upgrading facilities with a focus on door access control. Again, the foundation is positive school culture and building relationships. We’ll train staff in key areas such as restorative practices. And we’ll teach the social-emotional skills our students need to self-regulate and help support their peers. Everyone has a role to maintain a positive school atmosphere.

Summary of the Big Ideas of this Proposed Plan

So the big ideas are —

  • Strengthening our community and relationships
  • Growing our mental health supports
  • Raising up community mentors to be an extra set of hands in the hallways
  • Partnering with the community, including clearly defined situations when police will still come to schools to promote safety

More Information and Survey

Have questions or suggestions? Visit charlottesvilleschools.org/safety to find a survey or learn more.

  • Español:    Información   |    Encuesta ahora cerrada
  • Arabic: المسح مغلق الآن  |  تعليق
  • Dari:  اطلاعات  |   نظر سنجی
  • Pashto:    معلومات  | سروې
  • Swahili:    Habari  |  Maoni sasa yamefungwa

More Information about the Committee on School Safety/Security Resources

Click Here for Minutes, Resources, and More

As this safety/security resources committee begins meeting, we will post updates to this page. Check back here or sign up to receive email updates as they are posted.

Click here to sign up to receive email updates

Click here to give feedback or suggestions to the committee

Committee Meeting 1 (November 10, 2020)

Committee Meeting 2 (November 18, 2020)

Committee Meeting 3 (November 24, 2020)

Committee Meeting 4 (December 2, 2020)

Committee Meeting 5 (December 8, 2020)

Committee Meeting 6 (Public Forum on School Safety, January 12, 2021)

  • Slides
  • For overview/recap, see slides and minutes from January 14 meeting, below.

Committee Meeting 7 (January 14, 2021)

Committee Meeting 8 (February 2, 2021)

School Board Presentation (March 4, 2021)

Committee Meeting 9 (April 22, 2021)

  • Meeting was re-scheduled from April 20, 2021
  • Slides
  • Preliminary Feedback from Survey
  • Meeting was dedicated to discussion and slight revisions to slides, which formed the basis of the public meeting and presentation to the superintendent on Tuesday, April 27.  These slides also form the basis for the Board’s vote on May 6.

Committee Meeting 10 (April 27, 2021)

  • This was a public Zoom meeting to present the final recommendation to the superintendent. To understand what the Board will be voting on during their May 6 meeting, please review the slides or watch the video.

School Board Meeting (May 6, 2021)

  • The Board approved the new plan; the staff will begin posting for the new positions and developing additional protocols and a revised MOU with CPD.

Presentation for Listening Sessions

Related Resources