A Word from Superintendent Dr. Rosa Atkins
Dear staff, family, and community:
When I first thought about a column for this month’s “News and Highlights,” I thought that it would be all news and no highlights. During this pandemic, we are focused on finding solutions and passing the information along to you. So, yes, there is a lot of news in this email.
However, I also realized that even in this challenging time, we have a lot of highlights, too! Can we give a virtual round of applause to the custodial staff who kept our students and staff safe prior to the closure? (And they continue to keep our remaining in-office staff members safe, too!) Let’s give a shout-out to our nutrition team and so many volunteers and partners for establishing fully functional neighborhood-based student meal delivery program on DAY TWO of our closure! Each week, they serve more than 7,000 meals! Let’s also recognize our IT team — they are getting our last students connected with chromebooks and connectivity. (And let’s also recognize them for putting us in such a strong position BEFORE the crisis — Cville Schools has previously won national recognition for the strength of our tech planning and execution.) And of of course, I want to thank our principals, teachers, counselors, social workers and so many more for their continued focus on students’ learning and well-being.
So read on. You’ll find “news you can use.” You’ll also find some much-needed smiles and inspiration. During this time, remember to stay safe. Stay connected. And let’s keep learning!
Dr. Rosa Atkins
The School Board held its first virtual meeting in April, as a response to the closure. Staff provided updates in all areas relating to the coronavirus closure. Find more School Board information, including agendas, minutes, and livestream video. You can find a similar update by watching the April 14 episode of Cville 360, a new government news program. The next meeting will be held May 7, also virtually. Tune in on Facebook at @CvilleSchools.
Last week, we began teaching NEW material to our students. We have posted learning/family resources and a learning FAQ. If your family needs a chromebook or internet access, contact your principal. Learning books for Pre-K to grade 1 have been mailed — contact your school if you didn’t get one. Grades 2-4 are using Chromebooks to check SeeSaw. Grades 5-8 are working in Canvas. (Walker has a learning site set up as a gateway.) We are de-emphasizing grading, and SOLs have been cancelled. Instead, we are focused on preparing students for the fall. This video explains more. Teachers have been reaching out to families — if they haven’t been able to reach you, please contact your school!
There is still a lot up in the air, both regarding coronavirus and plans for future instruction on the local, state, and federal levels. Summer school is likely to be online, although if it is safe to go face-to-face, we will try to do so. Stay tuned also about a virtual “Freedom School” summer partnership with UVa’s Curry School for elementary students. For the fall, we are making a Plan A (for face-to-face instruction) and Plan B (for distance learning if schools are still closed). One way or another, we will be ready to help your students learn.
During the closure, we have prioritized our staff by paying all contract employees such as instructional assistants and nutrition/custodial staff. CLASS employees are being paid through the CLASS budget (which has been helped by families generously donating a month or even more of their spring payments). School bus drivers and crossing guards are being paid by the City. Hourly employees such as part-time nutrition staff are being paid as work is available. We hope to continue supporting all of these employees, but we are also aware that future budget cuts will impact our spending plans.
Face-to-face classes may be cancelled, but our teachers, counselors, and staff are still finding ways to connect. From a simple phone call to teacher parades to distributing books for our students to staff read-alongs (or even puppet shows) to a virtual theater cabaret and an online art show, we are making connections. Some principals are maintaining routines by posting school-wide meetings or daily/weekly announcements, complete with the pledge and honoring birthdays. In addition to teachers’ office hours, counselors are holding office hours and setting up appointments. Region Ten is also providing key supports. We’ve posted mental health resources on our learning page.
Our teachers and instructional coordinators have done a great job of pulling together distance learning curriculum. But the state is also providing options that might help your family. Working with the state, PBS stations in Virginia are showing teacher-led lessons on weekday afternoons on station 41.2 or Comcast 265 or 1146. From 1-2pm are K-3 learning segments, and from 2-3pm, episodes teach algebra and life science. Starting April 27, from 3-4pm, the network will offer an AP prep week. The public media network has also upped its educational programming in other ways.
During this disruptive season, we have a special place in our hearts for the Class of 2020. Given the continued cancellation of public events, we are brainstorming other ways to celebrate our seniors. For starters, we’ve made a CHS-themed “I ♥ a Senior” frame for your Facebook profiles, as well as some Cville Schools “In This Together” frames for all our families. (You can find these frames on our Cville Schools and CHS Facebook pages.) We’re also rolling out some other celebrations as we look ahead to more formal virtual celebrations later this spring. We’ll keep you posted!
Another favorite event was cancelled this April — when our future K students and their families come see the school, meet the teachers, and bring required paperwork. We’re so sorry to miss this special occasion, but online forms have been posted here, and we’ll keep you updated about how to get the required documents to us. We’re also thinking about the more important part — how to connect kids and teachers.
Burnley-Moran gym teacher Ernest Chambers connected with students virtually for a run-through of a school favorite, the Avocado Dance. Don’t miss the video!
In March, the girls’ indoor track team had a big day, earning two relay state championships! The 4×200 was run by E. Schock, M. Packer, E. Burns, A. Ventre. The 4×400 (shown above) was run by Packer, Ventre, L. Hoskins, and K. Van Der Pluijm. The team earned 4th overall with many students placing. We’re so proud!
Buford staff virtually teamed up to bring a smile and encourage their students to keep reading and learning. Watch the video here. For more fun videos and to see glimpses of our learning tools, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or YouTube