Throughout the months of the Spring semester, school board members have been discussing and planning out the reopening of Richmond public schools in the Fall. Here is an overview on what discussions were done and what decisions have been made so far.
Prior to the Fall 2020- Spring 2021 academic year, RPS created a section on their website called #ReopenWithLove, which collected all updates and resources for students, parents, and RPS staff on the upcoming reopening. Moving through the school year and into Fall 2021, RPS continues to provide updates as ReopeningWithLove 2.0. The website includes a form for RPS staff members to get their vaccines scheduled.
During the February 16, 2021 School Board meeting, Superintendent Kamras offered a proposal to have the upcoming school year to reopen in a new, year-round schooling model. This proposal was updated and introduced again on March 15, with mixed reviews. Some school members believed that discussing this new calendar structure would only distract and overwhelm the board from the current topic of reopening in itself. Parents were at times also skeptical of the change for their children’s summers.
Ultimately, at the March 15 meeting, a compromise was reached, with the 2021-22 academic year staying with the traditional calendar, and the 2022-23 year following the year-round schooling proposal. The full report/calendar can be found here.
The March 15 meeting also offered an excel document indicating the progress schools have made in necessary safety measures for reopening, such as installing bi-polar ionization air purification systems, safety signage, in-room HEPA filtration units, and so on. The document was last updated March 10.
There is also the ReopeningWithLove 2.0 Student & Family Conversations, which are virtual conversations with RPS and members of the Richmond health community. A flyer has been released with more information, and can be seen fully on the Reopen with love section of RPS’ website.
More discussion on the Fall 2021 reopening, in addition to summer school, occurred on the April 12 school board meeting. Summer school will be in-person, with no virtual counterpart. 5 weeks are offered for Pre-K to grade 8. High school students will have 2 different sessions for primarily credit recovery. They will offer academic programming with partners, and the grades will have their own focus within the core programming. The report also offers the projected number of students for each grade, the locations it will be offered, and the timelines involved. The full report presented at the meeting can be read here.
The next part of the agenda was to receive an update on the 2021-2022 school year. There will be a virtual and in-person option for all students, 5 days a week. Ideally, if students/families choose to partake in in-person, they will be able to do so 5 days a week, and cannot switch to the other form until the end of the semester. However, if needed, there are also options available in which RPS classes are split into two cohorts, which will be in-person on alternating days or weeks.
There will also be a daily temperature check and symptom check at home. In addition, all students, staff, and visitors will be required to wear masks in the building. There is also a very detailed guide on all the social/physical distancing practices that will be put in place. The full report that was presented can be viewed here. An updated version of the dashboard was also shared, with more updates on the progress of infrastructure changes made by all RPS schools.
Finally, the board went through their first review on the Fall 2021 calendar. Dr. Epp spoke of the new diverse added holidays, such as Diwali, Eid, etc. It was met with approval. The calendar can be seen here.