Return to Learn square graphic

Return to Learn Plan — Proposed Option for In-Person Learning

Revised November 6, 2020

This page is designed to help you know our current thinking and preparations for a possible return to in-person learning at Charlottesville City Schools.

At the November 19 School Board meeting, the Board endorsed continued planning for offering an option for in-person instruction beginning in January and February, as set forth by the superintendent’s COVID-19 Advisory Committee. The Board requested that the secondary schools continue to explore scheduling options. The Board also authorized the City’s Pupil Transportation Department to explore the possibility of contracting with a private service to meet the needs for student transportation.

NOTE: At their December 16 (4pm) work session, the Board will evaluate the latest health data and hear an update about the schools’ plans. At that point, they will make a final decision about in-person instruction plans.

Schools are currently in a predominantly online mode through at least January 2021.

Return to Learn logo

NOTE: The information on this page is subject to change based on new information from health experts such as the CDC, emerging best practices, and data we gather from the Family Intent Forms/Bus Applications (due Monday, November 16 at 9am).

Overview Video

Transcript from video

Thanks to everyone for your patience and partnership this fall. We are proud of our teachers, principals, students, and families for their hard work and success with online learning. Moving forward, it is our hope to offer a safe option for in-person instruction starting in January and February. This video will help you understand our planning and your options. As a next step, we are asking families and staff to complete a form by November 16 at 9am to help us continue to plan for this model.

Model
First, let’s talk about the plan. Earlier this year, Dr. Atkins brought together a COVID-19 Advisory Committee of teachers, staff, parents, community members, medical professionals, and more. The committee has proposed a model that would give families a choice for their children to either continue learning online-only or return to in-person instruction. For students in PreK through grade 6, we would offer four days a week in person and with Fridays like they are now. To maximize bus transportation, PreK students will have modified hours of 10am-1:30pm. For students at Buford, CHS, and Lugo-McGinness, the in-person option would be two days a week at school, and three days virtual. Tentatively, the dates for this model would phase students back in from mid-January through the start of the second semester on February 1. Again, all students would have the option for remaining in online-only instruction.

Orientation/Transition
To help make this transition smooth, we would phase students back into school. Elementary students would starting phasing in students on January 11. For the first week or so, we would assign elementary students specific days to come to school and familiarize themselves with school routines. Following this orientation period, all in-persion elementary students would start attending school together on January 21. Buford, CHS, and LMA would likely begin on February 1, but we would also plan some Friday orientations throughout January for 7th-graders, 9th-graders and other students who are new to Buford and CHS. To help staff make this transition as successful as possible, we are also considering converting the week of January 4-8 to an asynchronous learning week — sort of like a week of “Fridays.” Teachers would use this time for training and preparation to make sure that we are doing all we can to keep everyone safe.

Ways to Promote Safety (Mitigation)
Speaking of safety, we have done extensive planning and preparation. Following the latest guidance, we have upgraded our cleaning equipment and air filters, purchased stand-alone air purification equipment for spaces that need it, gathered supplies such as hand sanitizer, created custom signage to help us all follow mitigation protocols, and more. To learn more about all the ways we are planning for mitigation, we invite you to visit our website. Among other items, you can find a video from our October 22 School Board meeting giving an update on these measures.

Students and Safety Routines
Any family who chooses in-person instruction agrees to follow safety plans such as distancing, hand-washing, health screening at home and school, prompt pick-up of children who are sick, and wearing a mask over the nose/mouth at all times unless there is a documented medical or disability need or if specific permission is given during the day (for example, at lunch). If students continue to struggle with these routines, schools will modify the child’s learning plan (such as returning to online learning) for the safety of the child and the school community. PK-6 students will also stay in their “home” classroom most of the time to minimize risk. Families choosing in-person instruction should still be prepared to shift to online, at-home learning in case of exposure.

Important Ideas about this Proposed Learning Model
1) After you’ve had time to learn about our proposal and talk it over with your family, we ask you to complete a family intent form for your household. The form will ask about each student in your family. Please make a careful decision — the expectation is that your child will remain in the chosen learning plan for the rest of the school year. That’s true whether you select in-person or online-only instruction.

2) A decision to send your child to in-person instruction is a decision to follow all safety plans such as wearing a mask over the nose/mouth as discussed earlier.

3) In-person instruction will be organized around safety. PK-6 students will stay in their “home” classroom most of the time to minimize risk. Students will still go outside for recess, and we will use the information from the intent forms to make other plans for the use of gyms, outdoor spaces, and more.

4) For those returning to in-person instruction, if at any point there is a COVID-19 exposure, your child (and possibly your child’s class) may be asked to quarantine at home and participate in virtual learning for a period such as 14 days.

5) We remain committed to a high-quality online-only experience.

6) Regardless of your learning plan, the school may need to make adjustments to your child’s schedule or teacher assignment. We will work to minimize teacher changes.

A Word about Bus Transportation
Due to state and CDC health guidelines and severe driver shortages, Charlottesville City Schools will have very limited bus space when we return to in-person learning. Current estimates show that we will be able to serve a maximum of 200 riders per day for elementaries (combined), 200 for Buford/Walker (combined), and 200 for CHS. Last year, 2,600 students rode the bus to and from school daily.

To assist families who do not receive bus transportation, the City’s Safe Routes to School program will organize additional supports such as volunteers guiding groups of walkers or bike-riders to school and offering helmets & bike give-aways. Please consider how you can support these efforts. Or find your own ways to partner with friends, neighbors, and classmates to make alternative plans to save bus spots for those who really need them. The intent form for families also includes an application for these limited bus spaces. For priority consideration for bus service, please submit forms by Monday, November 16 at 9am

Decision-Making Timeline
The Board will next meet on November 5 to hear a formal recommendation for a return to in-person instruction. At that meeting, they will vote to authorize the schools to continue online learning for the start of the second nine weeks. The Board will meet again on November 19 to vote about whether and when to adopt an in-person option. No action on this matter is expected at the December 3 meeting. Finally, on December 16, the Board will review the latest health data and hear an update about the schools’ safety plans. At that point, they will make a final decision. Again, the soonest schools would offer an in-person option would be mid-January to February 2021.

Next Steps for Families
If you have questions or would like more information, please visit our website. Once you feel like you have the information you need, talk with your family about whether you would like to remain online-only or choose in-person instruction. Remember, once you make a decision, it will be in place until the end of the school year.

If you’re ready to complete the intent form and bus application, you can find it at charlottesvilleschools.org/survey. It will be available there in English plus our top five languages. You can also get a printed form in those same languages at our schools and wherever our school meals are served. Submit forms by the morning of Monday, November 16 to help the School Board decide on November 19.

These forms will help us continue our planning — thanks again for your partnership!

smartphone with checkmarkFamily Learning Intent Forms/Bus Applications

Please help us plan for the possibility of offering an in-person learning option by completing this Family Learning Intent/Bus Application form.

Start Form (English)

Spanish – español | Arabic –  عربى | Dari -از جانب  | Pashto – پښتو  | Swahili – Kiswahili  


illustration of linguistic charactersTranslation Traducción ترجمة Tafsiri अनुवाद ترجمه

Translators and interpreters are available. Our web site can be translated with Google. Call or email your school for help.

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.

Illustration of planningReturning to In-Person Instruction: How Will We Decide?

To gather information and feedback, Dr. Atkins convened a COVID-19 Advisory Committee. On October 14, the group recommended a model that would give families a choice for their child to either continue online learning or return to in-person instruction for either four (PK-grade 6) or two (Buford, CHS, LMA) days each week, with independent or virtual learning on the other days each week. The earliest this model is recommended for implementation is mid-January through February. We will remain in a predominantly online mode until then.

Graphic showing draft learning plan for fall 2020 for elementary and secondary students. Information in graphic is below.

More about the Committee and the Decision-Making Timeline

October 28, 2020 Update about the Decision-Making Timeline

On Thursday, October 22, the School Board held a meeting to discuss the proposed model, including updates about safety and mitigation efforts and a report from principals about staff and space needs to support this model. You can watch this meeting here and you can find the attachments on our “Electronic School Board” web site here:

The Board requested that we ask families and staff to consider this model and complete intent forms. The Board will next meet on November 5 to hear a formal recommendation for a return to in-person instruction. At that meeting, they will vote to continue online learning for the start of the second nine weeks. The Board will meet again on November 19 to vote about whether to adopt an in-person option. Finally, on December 16, the Board will review the latest health data and hear an update about the schools’ plans to promote safety. At that point, they will make a final decision. Again, the soonest schools would offer an in-person option would be mid-January to February.

Next Steps

  • This web page has been created to provide additional information.
  • An intent form/bus application form is being distributed to families and staff to guide decision-making and planning. See links at top of page.
  • The Board will meet again on November 5, at which time they will hear a formal recommendation from the Superintendent. They will also vote to continue online learning during the start of the second nine weeks (beginning November 9).
  • The Board will meet to vote on the in-person option on November 19.
  • On Wednesday, December 16, at 4pm, the Board will get an update on the latest health data and the schools’ efforts to promote safety. They will make a final decision at this time.
  • Again, the schools will remain in a predominantly online mode until January. If a new model is approved, the earliest implementation would begin mid-January through February.

Families are welcome to subscribe for regular email notifications about the COVID-19 Advisory Committee, or you can check charlottesvilleschools.org/covid-committee for updates.

Local Health Data Using CDC Framework

We have been working with the state and local health experts to follow local COVID-19 data. In mid-September, the Centers for Disease Control issued a new data framework to help guide school divisions’ decision-making.

Learn about the CDC framework & thresholds for each metric

Find Charlottesville data (load page & select Charlottesville)

Illustration of health safetyMeasures to Promote Safety (Mitigation)

As part of its data metrics, the CDC asks school divisions to self-evaluate in 5 key areas , but they also list a number of other mitigation strategies. We will show the  complete list below and give an update.

Details about Safety and Mitigation Measures

5 Core Mitigation Measures to Support School Openings

(per the CDC’s Indicators for Dynamic School Decision-Making) 

  1. Masks and Face Coverings:  Per our new masks/face coverings policy, all students, staff, and visitors are required to wear masks covering the mouth and nose on school property and on school buses. For details and exceptions (such as when eating or if there is a medical or other accommodation), please see the policy.  Individuals will be asked to supply their own masks, but disposable masks will be available if an individual has forgotten to bring one. Face shields are also available for students and staff, but they are not a replacement for masks.
  2. Social Distancing to the extent possible (6 feet where possible):  The proposal calls for limiting class size and building occupancy to allow for social distancing. Signage and floor markers will reinforce the furniture placement to encourage 6-foot separation.  Floor decals in halls and markings on sidewalks will show direction and reinforce spacing.  Signage also communicates one-way directions in stairwells or hallways as needed.
  3. Hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette:  Students and staff will use hand sanitizer upon arrival. Hand sanitizer is available in all classrooms, on all buses, and at all student building entrances, and some classrooms have sinks for handwashing. Schools will teach and  reinforce good hygiene practices such as handwashing,  covering coughs and sneezes, and refraining from touching surfaces when possible.  
  4. Cleaning and disinfection: All CCS cleaning products are on the EPA list of disinfectants for COVID-19. Custodians have been equipped and trained with foggers and electrostatic sprayers to support more rapid and effective disinfection of surfaces and entire spaces. Classrooms are equipped with spray bottles with the all-purpose disinfectant cleaner and microfiber cloths to readily address high-touch services such as desktops and door knobs.  A daily cleaning form is used by the custodial staff working with the building administrators, and a color-coded  system indicates whether rooms are: in use or not yet cleaned (red),  ready for use following standard cleaning procedures (yellow), or ready for use following extra cleaning measures (green). 
  5. Contact tracing:  To help us work with the health department for contact tracing, we will implement several measures. Student movement in school buildings and buses will be minimized and monitored, and seating will be assigned. We will fully support contact tracing and subsequently enforce recommendations for quarantine or isolation.

Other CDC-Recommended Strategies

  1. Cohorting: On the elementary level, we will create small cohorts (or “pods”) that stay together throughout the school day to minimize exposure for students, teachers, and staff across the school environment. We will limit staff moving among these cohorts. One advantage of the four-day proposal at the elementary level is that it allows students to remain in the same cohorts on a near-daily basis.
  2. Staying home when appropriate: Staff and students will be asked to screen at home daily for COVID-19 symptoms and will be asked to stay home and contact a healthcare professional if they are symptomatic or if they know of an exposure to COVID-19. See guidance in the health section, below. No-contact temperature scanners will be used for buses and at entrances to monitor for people with a temperature of 100.0 or higher.  Screening questions will also be used at the discretion of school administrators or nurses, or at the direction of local health officials for additional on-site screening. CSS Student Home Screening Tool (revised October 26, 2020)
  3. Adequate supplies:  As stated elsewhere, we will supply hand sanitizer, face masks (for those who arrive without them), face shields, disposable gloves, COVID-approved cleaning supplies, and more. Staff such as nurses in need of other PPE will be supplied those items. At this time, the only item we are finding it difficult to stock is the N95 mask, which is not commonly recommended for school use.
  4. Staggered scheduling: We are hoping to avoid staggered start and stop times for schools. We will use other strategies such as encouraging people to use a variety of entry points to avoid congested spaces, and we have designated one-way stairways and hallways to minimize face-to-face foot traffic.
  5. Alternating schedules with fixed cohorts:  This strategy is proposed for Buford and CHS. Students in cohort A will have in-person instruction two days a week (tentatively Monday and Wednesday), and cohort B will tentatively be in person on Tuesday and Thursday. Students will learn online on the other three days. Lugo-McGinness might use a different system to better facilitate social distancing in their buildings.
  6. Shared objects:  As possible, we will minimize use of shared items or will create a plan for cleaning and disinfection (of touch screens, key boards, door knobs, etc).
  7. Visitors:  We have suspended volunteer programs and non-essential visitors. Signage reminds visitors to check to see if their business can be conducted by phone or computer and that they need to wear a mask, screen for symptoms, and use hand sanitizer. Visits are held outside when weather allows.
  8. Ventilation: The City is following ASHRAE recommendations to use the highest MERV-rated filters possible for all equipment, coupled with increasing ventilation.  All systems are set for maximum outdoor air at normal occupancy levels. The new filter installations are in process.  Any space that cannot use a MERV 13 or 14 filter will be equipped with a portable air cleaner. As weather permits, we will keep windows open. Going above and beyond standard mitigation for K-12 and universities, the City has engaged an engineer from Tri-Dim to consult on the best course of action for each building/space and provide a basis of design that will be used to get bids for additional equipment. This equipment will include strategies such as UV-C lights and/or bipolar ionization equipment, etc. Installations for this additional equipment are expected to begin as equipment is delivered, starting in November.
  9. Water systems:  The City has been flushing water regularly to make sure that school water supplies remain safe.
  10. Physical barriers and guides: The division has ordered and installed plexi-glass barriers for areas such as reception desks and to support safe 1:1 interactions in classrooms or with specialists. Schools can acquire additional barriers according to their specific needs.
  11. Communal spaces: Most or all students will have lunch in classrooms. We will use playgrounds, but we will stagger use and schedule hand-washing before and after recess.  We will use the information from the family intent forms to make other plans for the use of gyms, outdoor spaces, and more.
  12. Food service:  For most or all students in our schools, we will serve meals in classrooms. (Students are still welcome to bring packed meals, but no microwave will be available.) All students will wash hands or use hand sanitizer before and after eating. Other safety features include a meal pre-ordering system and a touchless system using ID cards for payment. We will  provide additional wheeled waste cans  in the hallways so food waste will not remain in the classrooms.  We will send in-person students home with bagged lunches & breakfasts for their off-campus days.  For families who wish to remain in all-online instruction, the nutrition department will survey families to determine where meal deliveries are needed.

Other Strategies:

  • Training:  Staff and students will need to be trained on appropriate procedures and mitigation strategies. We will use training videos prior to returning to in-person instruction. Custodial staff had additional training the week of September 19. Additional training is also required for nursing staff as well as SPED staff who work with students to assist with medical or personal care.
  • Protocols:  While some decision-making will depend on the data we receive from family intent forms, we have been assembling policies and protocols to guide our return to in-person instruction. All protocols are subject to change based on public health expertise and emerging best practices.
  • Outdoor Spaces: We hope to use our outdoor spaces as much as possible, particularly for classes such as gym or choir.  Where there is enough space and mixing cohorts is possible, classes may also go outside for lunch or suitable instruction/class meetings.

Illustration of facemaskHealth Protocols for Staff and Families

We all depend on each other to reduce risk and promote safety. Click each topic to learn more about masking, health screening, or other health protocols.

More Information about Health Protocols

Masks and Face Coverings

What is the policy? When do students/staff need to wear them?

All adults and students are required to wear masks covering the nose and mouth when on school grounds, with the exceptions of designated times for eating or when people are outside and can be six or more feet apart. Masks will also be required on buses and at bus stops. Masks should not be see-through or have valves.  Find the full policy here.

What if someone won’t wear a mask?

We will have additional masks on hand for anyone who has forgotten or lost one. We will work to ensure that the student and family understand the importance of wearing a face covering. CCS will work with families to identify the more appropriate learning path, including virtual learning, if face coverings will not be worn.

What if someone can’t wear a mask?

For individuals with a documented health condition or disabilities, CCS will identify solutions on a case-by-case basis.

What if someone needs help getting cloth masks?

We know this can be a challenge. If providing a mask is a challenge for your family, please check with your teacher or school. Thanks to Mt. Zion First African Baptist Church for providing masks as part of the back-to-school bash supply kits!

Can you wear the same mask daily?

Yes, if it is washed and dried after each day. Masks should be washed on a daily basis (this can be in a sink with soap and water or in a washing machine). Or students/staff can build a supply of one mask per in-person school day. It would also be good to keep a “spare” in the classroom or a backpack. If providing (or daily washing) masks is  a challenge for your family, again please contact your teacher or school.

What about face shields?

Face shields are not a substitute for masks, but we do have a supply for any teachers and students who wish to wear them as an additional protection.

Why are we requiring  masks?

Face masks are one of the most important ways to  slow the spread of COVID-19 when combined with everyday preventive actions and social distancing in public settings.

Want more information about masks from the CDC?

For more information, view the CDC’s guidelines for wearing masks.

Handwashing and Hand Sanitizing

How will handwashing (and hand-sanitizing) be encouraged?

Staff and students will participate in handwashing/sanitizing at regular intervals, including upon arrival at school, before/after recess, and before/after lunch. Schools will have supplies of hand sanitizer and soap to allow for frequent hand-washing, and classrooms and school facilities will be disinfected regularly. We will teach the importance of (and techniques for) handwashing.

Do schools have supplies for handwashing or sanitizing?

Schools have supplies of hand sanitizer and soap to allow for frequent handwashing. Older students who wish to bring a personal bottle of sanitizer are encouraged to do so.

Will you teach students about the importance and best techniques for handwashing?

Yes, prior to and following a return to in-person instruction, we will use videos, visual reminders, and more to reinforce this important habit.

Want more information about handwashing?

The CDC has more information and videos.

Social Distancing

How will the schools follow social distancing guidelines?

Students and staff will maintain six feet of social distancing in indoor and outdoor settings as much as possible. Schools will clearly mark off six-foot spaces for specific areas, such as bathroom lines or school pick-up/drop-off locations.

Classrooms will be set up to follow the health and safety guidelines in our approved plan. Classroom seating should be revised to maximize distancing between students as much as possible. Desks will be rearranged so that students are all facing the same direction, and community tables will be removed or equipped/marked for safe use.

What if students struggle with social distancing?

We will make every effort to teach this skill and reinforce its importance. We will have clear markings and reminders to support the behavior we need to see. If a student continues to struggle to maintain a safe social distance, the schools will work with families to identify the more appropriate learning path, including virtual learning.

What about social distancing outside of school?

Families, one important way you can help us to keep school as safe as possible is to make your home or non-school routines as similar as possible to the school routines for things such as masking, social distancing, and handwashing. This will be especially important at Thanksgiving and over winter break.

Want more information about social distancing?

The CDC has more information here.

Health Screenings for Staff and Students

How will you do daily health screening?

Everyone entering a building, including students and staff, must engage in a daily health screen before leaving home for school. Families and staff will sign a one-time attestation that they will agree to self-screening.

CSS Student Home Screening Tool (revised October 26, 2020)

Will there be on-site health screening?

All adults and students will get a temperature check and/or in-person symptom screening before entering the building (or boarding a school bus). In addition to the home pre-screen conducted by families, staff may also conduct an in-person screening. Students/staff with a temperature of 100.0 or above will need to go home. Students and staff should stay home if they are experiencing symptoms, including fever, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, abdominal pain, fatigue, muscle aches, and/or headache.

Note: please make a plan for if your student arrives at the bus or school with a fever. If your child will ride the bus, see  the transportation FAQ (below) for details.

Will There be COVID-19 Testing for Staff or Students?

We remain in contact with the local health department to follow their recommendations, but at this time, we do not plan for widespread testing for COVID-19 for staff/students. Staff members can be tested for free by visiting a testing site.

Cleaning

How will we keep facilities clean?

Facilities staff will clean and disinfect nightly, and during the day for high-need areas. Staff will frequently clean touched surfaces in schools and on buses at least daily and between use as much as possible. Toys or classroom items that cannot be easily cleaned or sanitized (such as plush toys) will be removed.  For more about cleaning procedures, see Safety and Mitigation Strategies, above.

What about restrooms?

High-touch surfaces (faucet knobs, flush handles, partition locks, ADA railings) will be disinfected at least mid-morning and mid-afternoon, and all restrooms will be cleaned nightly. Handwashing is key to safety. Signage will encourage spacing, handwashing, and other safe practices. Schools will develop a site-based plan for restroom use.

PPE-Personal Protective Equipment

Has PPE (personal protective equipment) been purchased?

CCS has purchased PPE such as masks, face shields, thermometers, and gloves to help maintain a safe environment and prepare for the return to school. We’ll make sure schools receive supplies based on key information like the number of students enrolled, the number of teaching stations it has, and other details. We have a system to monitor and replenish these supplies to ensure schools have what they need to maintain a safe environment.

Will PPE (personal protective equipment) be given to staff? Students?

Additional supplies such as gowns and N95/KN95 masks will be provided for school nurses and others who may have close contact in personal care for students.

What if a Student Displays Symptoms or is Diagnosed?

What if a student develops CVOID-19 symptoms at home?

Consult with your primary care physician and report the absence at school. Do not attend school without further guidance. If the symptoms are typical for your child, be sure to tell your doctor. Keep in mind, not everyone who displays COVID-19 symptoms has or will contract the virus.  

What if a student develops symptoms at school?

Students who develop symptoms at school will be immediately directed to a designated isolation space in the school until they can safely leave or be picked up to go home. Prompt pick-up of sick children (within an hour) is part of the safety agreement that parents/guardians agree to follow when selecting the in-person learning option.

Depending on the situation, the individual’s primary care provider may recommend testing for COVID-19 or give other guidance. Individuals who test positive will remain in isolation.  Students  with COVID-19 symptoms should not return to school without guidance from their healthcare provider and/or school nurse. Please continue to report the absences; it would be helpful if families speak with the principal or school nurse with updates. 

Will Students Have to Show a Negative COVID Test to Return to School?

No. There are many reasons that someone may show symptoms and/or an elevated temperature above 100.0. But if a student displays COVID-19 symptoms, they should check with their healthcare provider or the school nurse for guidance.

 What if a student is diagnosed with COVID-19?

Any student required to isolate at home due to illness from COVID-19 will be required to isolate for 10 days or until there is no fever for 24 hours without the use of a fever-reducing medicine (or as directed by a healthcare provider). A doctor’s note  will be required prior to returning to a CCS school campus.

What if a student or staff member is exposed to COVID-19?

Students who are a “close contact” of someone with a confirmed or probable case of COVID-19  will need to quarantine at home for 14 days from the date of last exposure.  For this purpose “close contact” is defined as being within 15 feet of a confirmed COVID-19 person for 15 minutes over a 24-hour period.  It would be helpful for families to notify the principal or school nurse.

What if a household member of a student is diagnosed with COVID-19?

Per health department guidance, any student who lives with someone diagnosed with COVID-19 will need to begin quarantine and remain in this phase for two weeks following the recovery of the patient.

If a child stays home with symptoms or to quarantine following exposure, how will they continue to learn?

Students will continue to be served by their home school but in a remote capacity for the duration of the quarantine period. Please check with your teacher for guidance.

Are Students Required to Disclose a Positive COVID-19 Test?

In the interest of public health, reporting is a helpful way to keep the school community safe. That way, people who were exposed to a known positive case can quarantine and prevent the spread of this disease to others. It is helpful when students or staff displaying symptoms keep the school nurse “in the loop” so that we can take precautions to keep everyone safe.

What Will We Be Told if a Student or Staff Member Becomes Sick?

Names and personally identifiable information will not be released, but the local health department will work with schools on the necessary next steps, including any related communications to families or school staff. All such communications will be coordinated with the health department.

Is There a Nurse at all Schools and Program Sites?

All schools have a full-time nurse. In the case of a smaller program such as Lugo-McGinness, the nurse at adjacent Venable Elementary can offer services. If we create a stand-alone preschool facility, our “floater” nurse will be stationed there.

How safe is the school isolation quarantine area?

Staff assigned to supervise individuals in the designated isolation quarantine area will be provided with appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE – masks, gloves, gown, cap, shoe coverings), and proper disposal will be provided for the PPE.  Custodial staff responsible for cleaning the area will also be provided with appropriate PPE to address the area after any isolated individuals leave the space.  The protocol for this area in each school will include use of disinfectant spraying equipment. An isolation quarantine area cleaning checklist will be signed and dated when the protocol is completed.

When Would We Need to Revert to Online-Only Instruction?

We have been and will continue to work closely with the local health department and are following local and state data. As diagnosed cases arise, we will cooperate with the health department on contact tracing or other recommendations. Public health experts are very clear that each case is unique and that they will respond accordingly.

What if a Staff Member Displays Symptoms or is Diagnosed?

What if a staff member develops COVID-19 symptoms at home?

Consult with your healthcare provider and notify your supervisor. If these symptoms are common to you, be sure to mention this. Do not attend school without further guidance. Keep in mind, not everyone who displays COVID-19 symptoms has or will contract the virus.

What if a staff member develops symptoms at school?

Staff who develop symptoms in the school setting will be immediately sent home or directed to a designated isolation space in the school until they can safely be picked up. Depending on the situation, the individual’s healthcare provider may recommend testing for COVID-19 or give other guidance. Individuals who test positive will remain in isolation.  Staff with COVID-19 symptoms should not return to school without guidance from their healthcare provider. 

Will Staff Have to Show a Negative COVID Test to Return to School?

No. There are many reasons that someone might show symptoms and/or an elevated temperature above 100.0. But if a staff member displays COVID-19 symptoms, they should check with a healthcare provider for guidance.

 What if a staff member is diagnosed with COVID-19?

Any staff member required to isolate at home due to illness from COVID-19 will be required to isolate for 10 days or until there is no fever for 24 hours without the use of a fever-reducing medicine (or as directed by a healthcare provider). 

What if a staff member is exposed to COVID-19?

Staff who are a “close contact” of someone with a confirmed or probable case of COVID-19  will need to quarantine at home for 14 days from the date of last exposure.  For this purpose “close contact” is defined as being within 15 feet of a confirmed COVID-19 person for 15 minutes over a 24 hour period. Please contact the Director of Human Resources.

What if a household member of a staff members is diagnosed with COVID-19?

Per health department guidance, any staff member or student who lives with someone diagnosed with COVID-19 will need to quarantine and remain in this phase for two weeks following the recovery of the patient.

Are Staff Required to Disclose a Positive COVID-19 Test?

In the interest of public health,  reporting is a helpful to  keep the school community safe so that people who were exposed to a known positive case can quarantine and prevent the spread of this disease to others. It is helpful when staff displaying symptoms keep their supervisor “in the loop” so that we can take precautions to keep everyone safe.

What Will We Be Told if a Staff Member Becomes Sick?

Names and personally identifiable information will not be released, but the local health department will work with schools on the necessary next steps, including any related communications to families or school staff. All such communications will be coordinated with the health department.

illustration of clock and scheduleDaily Routines

School will look different. What does that look like at lunch, recess, or more?

 

Details about Daily Routines

Arrival/Daily Schedule:

When students arrive at the bus or the school, they will have their temperature screened and will hand sanitize. They can pick up a grab-and-go breakfast if they wish (free this school year). Then they will go directly to their assigned spot in their classroom. Elementary students will largely stay in their “home” classroom, but we use outdoor spaces as much as possible, particularly for gym and recess. Generally speaking, students will eat lunch in their classrooms. At Buford and CHS, students will follow their schedules to move from class to class following signage and other procedures to encourage social distancing. School hours may be adjusted to allow for the additional cleaning time required for buses between runs. Preschool  hours for our 3- and 4-year-olds will change to 10am – 1:30pm to maximize bus transportation.

Note: please make a plan for if your student arrives at the bus or school with a fever. See  the transportation FAQ (below) for details.

Athletics and Extra-Curricular Activities:

Some clubs and athletic activities may resume:

  • CHS will follow Virginia High School League (VHSL) guidelines for sports and activities. Find the CHS plan here. For further updates, visit gocville.org.
  • All other clubs and extracurricular activities will need to follow CCS guidelines and gain building-level approval to be sure that activities are in compliance.

Restroom Use:

High-risk touch points in restrooms (faucet knobs, flush handles, partition locks, ADA railings) will be disinfected at least mid-morning and mid-afternoon, and restrooms will be cleaned nightly. Schools will stagger bathroom breaks to minimize close contact with students from another cohort.  Handwashing is the key to safe bathroom use. Mirror clings in all restrooms will reinforce the importance and basics of proper handwashing. Schools will develop site plans for safe restroom use.

Calendar:

You can find the revised academic calendar for 2020-21 here. Click “other formats” for a one-page printout.

Furniture:

To the greatest degree possible, individual desks will be used and will be separated by 6′. Furniture will be arranged so that students face in the same direction.

Gym/Recess:

As much as possible, PE and recess will take place outside. Students should wash hands before and after recess or gym.  Outdoor playground equipment can be shared within a class, but again, since it will not be disinfected, hand-washing is important. Multiple cohorts can be outside at the same time as long as they are distanced from one another.  Any shared equipment such as balls should be disinfected between classes.

Hours:

School hours may be adjusted to allow for the additional cleaning time required for buses between runs. Preschool  hours for our 3- and 4-year-olds will change to 10am – 1:30pm to maximize bus transportation.

Meals:

We are offering free breakfast/lunch for all students this school year. For most or all students in our schools, we will serve meals in classrooms. Students can still bring packed meals from home, but no microwave will be available. All students will wash hands or use hand sanitizer before and after eating. Other safety features include a meal pre-ordering system and a touchless system using ID cards for payment. We will  provide additional wheeled waste cans  in the hallways so food waste will not remain in the classrooms.   We will send in-person students home with bagged lunches & breakfasts for their off-campus days.  For families who wish to remain in all-online instruction, nutrition will survey families to determine where meal deliveries are needed.

Preschool:

Preschool  hours for our 3- and 4-year-olds will change to 10am – 1:30pm to maximize bus transportation. We are exploring the possibility of partnering with a downtown church to house some of our preschool classrooms. We will know more once we have received our family intent forms so that we know the numbers of students who want in-person instruction. If preschool classes are held at a church or other facility, we will follow all safety procedures.

Safety Drills:

Schools are still following the schedule for state-required safety drills. We will adapt these processes to accommodate social distancing.

Schedule at Buford/CHS for hybrid students on the days when they are not in school:

We have been gathering models from other school divisions, but before adopting a model, we need to know how many students are interested in returning to in-person instruction. Depending on the numbers, we can select a model that works best for our students and staff. We are assembling a staff committee to help us identify the best solution to meet the needs of the two in-person cohorts, our online-only students, and our staff.

Shared Items/Spaces:

We will limit shared items as much as possible. If shared, items should be disinfected between use when possible. Group work can still happen — students will just need to follow social distancing guidelines. Schools and teachers will use lots of visual cues and reminders. Areas where students will need to share a space or equipment will create a space-specific cleaning plan.

Transportation Info:

See next section for information about transportation.

Water Fountains:

Students are encouraged to bring water bottles since water fountains will not be open. Bottle-filling stations are available.

Illustration of bikers and walkersTransportation

When we return to in-person instruction, we’ll have very limited space on school buses. Help now by finding a new way for your child to go to and from school. For information and ideas, look through our FAQ.

Transportation FAQ

How much space will there be on school buses?

Due to state and CDC health guidelines and severe driver shortages, Charlottesville City Schools will have very limited bus space when we return to any form of face-to-face learning. Current estimates show that we will be able to serve a maximum of 200 riders per day for elementaries (combined), 200 for Buford/Walker (combined), and 200 for CHS. (During 2019-20, 2,600 students rode the bus to and from school. This year, we may have a maximum of 600 per day.)  The family learning intent form also includes an application for bus spots. For priority consideration for bus spots, complete by Monday, November 16, at 9am.

How else can my kid get to school?

To assist families who do not receive bus transportation, the City’s Safe Routes to School program will organize additional supports such as volunteers guiding groups of walkers or bike-riders to school and offering bike give-aways. They are developing new maps to help! Learn more about Safe Routes to Schools and ways you can help! Or partner with friends, neighbors, and classmates to make alternative plans.

Any changes for car-riders?

We anticipate that there will be more cars in the drop-off and pick-up zones, so we are brainstorming alternate locations such as nearby parking lots where we can set up additional sites for car-riders. Stay tuned for new information from your school.  Important note: please stay in the car drop-off lane until your children have cleared the temperature check.

How will I know if my child can ride the bus?

If you have other options, please plan on them so that we can give bus spots to those who truly need them. The family learning intent form also includes an application for bus spots. For priority consideration for bus spots, complete by November 16 at 9am. Upon receipt of these forms, we will process the applications as quickly as possible.

How will we keep buses safe?

Buses will be cleaned between runs. Families will screen students for symptoms at home, and prior to boarding the bus, students will wear masks, use hand sanitizer, and get a temperature check (see note, below). For those students who get a bus assignment, we ask them to sit in their assigned seat. Siblings can sit together. Note: this year, for children in 6th grade and younger, a responsible adult must be at the stop each morning until the student has cleared their temperature check.

What if my child can’t ride the bus due to a fever?

For children in 6th grade and younger, a responsible adult must be at the stop each morning until the student has cleared their temperature check. For older students, we will call families to let them know if their child was unable to board the bus. If we cannot reach the family immediately,  the student will ride the bus and go directly to the school’s isolation room for prompt pick-up. Please make a plan in case your child gets sent home from the bus due to a fever or other symptoms. We will make every effort to contact families in this situation.

What if my walker or bike-rider arrives at school with a fever?

The student will be sent to the school’s isolation room, and the parents/guardians will be notified to promptly arrange for the student to return home.

What about the kids who bike or walk on rainy days?

The Back-to-School Bash team thought about this and has generously supplied schools a supply of water-proof ponchos that will fit over jackets and backpacks. Check with your school to request one.

What if you don’t have enough bus space for everyone who needs it?

For this reason, we are asking for anyone whose child can walk, ride a bike (or scooter) or get a ride to make those arrangements. We are developing a rubric to guide decision-making if we have more requests than spaces. The rubric will cover items such as distance from school, ability to arrange other transportation, age, and more. If there are students who are unable to attend in-person instruction because they did not receive a bus spot, please check with your school to see if we can help you make a connection for a ride-share or put you on a waiting list.  For priority consideration for bus spots, please complete the family learning intent/bus application form by November 16 at 9am.

Why do you have so little space on the buses and why can’t you just hire more bus drivers?

  1. Social distancing reduces capacity on each bus.
  2. There was a national shortage of school bus drivers even before the  pandemic.
  3. Many of our drivers are retirees who are at greater risk due to COVID-19; some have decided to step down for their personal safety.
  4. Due to the pandemic,  the back-up to get a commercial driving license is months-long.

Illustration of chromebookFamilies Choosing to Remain in Online-Only Instruction

Families can choose whether each child in their household returns to in-person instruction or remains in online-only instruction. We are committed to maintaining the high quality of our online instruction so far.  The introduction of the option for in-person instruction may mean some changes to routine or teaching assignments. (This is true whether the child chooses in-person or online-only instruction.)

Online-Only FAQ

If my elementary (preK-grade 6) child choses online-only, will they Zoom into classes with in-person instruction?

In the proposed elementary model, we would create dedicated cohorts of in-person and online-only students. This will require some teacher reassignments, but we will work to minimize the impact. The teacher reassignments could occur for both in-person and online-only students.

If my middle or high school child choses online-only, will they Zoom into classes with in-person instruction?

We have been gathering models from other school divisions, but before adopting a model, we need to know how many students are interested in returning to in-person instruction. Depending on the numbers, we can select a model that works best for our students and staff. We are assembling a staff committee to help us identify the best solution to meet the needs of the two in-person cohorts, our online-only students, and our staff.

Illustration of handshakeHow Can I Help?

There are some simple steps that everyone can take to keep our community safe and to prepare for the possibility of an in-person option. Or you can learn about the City’s Safe Routes to School program to find ways to help children bike or walk in the mornings or afternoons.

Ways to Help or Volunteer

Hoping for an in-person option at Charlottesville City Schools? Here’s how you can help:

  1. Complete the Family Intent Form at charlottesvilleschools.org/survey by Monday, November 16 at 9am.
  2. Continue to build your family’s good habits — social distancing, mask-wearing, and hand-washing. Do your part to keep our COVID-19 numbers low.
  3. Get flu shots for your family.
  4. Download the state’s COVIDWISE app. This app does not collect personal data, but it does help with contact tracing.
  5. Stay up-to-date with Charlottesville City Schools. Not getting phone calls and/or emails? Want to get texts? Please check with your school office.
  6. If you’re thinking about choosing in-person instruction, make a plan for these situations now:
    1. Transportation to and from school. There will be VERY LIMITED bus space.
    2. Sick days: If your children are sick, please help our community and keep them home. Check with your doctor or school nurse for advice.
    3. Unexpected fever at the bus or school: We will screen for fevers before children enter the bus or school. Please make a plan now for if your child has a fever and is not allowed to board the bus.
    4. Isolation: If your child is exposed to someone with COVID-19 symptoms at any point (whether at school, when out, or at home), they will need to isolate for fourteen days or as directed.

Kids will be walking and biking. Want to learn more or find a way to help?

The City’s Safe Routes to School program is creating maps and organizing supports to help students safely walk or bike (or scoot or skip) to school. Interested in learning more or helping? Let them know!