Henrico, Va., Oct. 6, 2020 — While Henrico County Public Schools leaders don’t yet know what pandemic conditions will allow for the second nine weeks of school, HCPS is preparing for a range of possibilities. That planning includes a questionnaire for families and staff members, and a divisionwide review of safety procedures and equipment to prepare for the possibility of expanded in-person learning. Student households received emails with links to the questionnaires Monday, as did HCPS staff members. The deadline to respond is this Sunday, Oct. 11.
The questionnaire is also available in print form at HCPS schools and school meals distributions sites. Printable versions are also available (in English, Spanish and Arabic) at https://henricoschools.us/questionnaires/. More language versions are in the works.
The questionnaire asks parents, guardians and staff members about their likely responses in the event of several hypothetical instructional scenarios. None of the scenarios are formal options at this point, and aren’t considered binding, but HCPS will rely heavily on the responses for planning purposes.
Families and staff members were also sent a video describing the measures HCPS staff members from across the school division are taking to make the possibility of more in-school instruction safer. The video can be seen at https://youtu.be/FB-nZuwpdZ0.
Some of the steps the school division is taking to prioritize safety include:
- Instituting enhanced virtual training for HCPS employees regarding COVID-19 awareness and prevention.
- Installing Plexiglas barriers in main offices and other select areas of the schools.
- Providing hand sanitizer and additional cleaning/disinfecting products for every classroom.
- Requiring self-screening procedures for HCPS employees and students.
- Purchasing personal protective equipment (PPE) for employees, including face coverings.
- Purchasing face coverings for the use of students who don’t bring their own.
- Installing floor stickers and signs indicating proper 6-foot distancing.
- Reimagining in-school meal service to eliminate touch points and large group gatherings.
- Determining enhanced cleaning schedules of high-touch areas in schools.
- Determining classroom layouts that allow for proper physical distancing.
- Determining seating arrangements, as well as entry and exit plans that maintain physical distancing on school buses.
- Developing plans to thoroughly clean school buses and other vehicles in between uses.
- Instituting health screenings for visitors to school property.
- Collaborating with the Henrico Health Department to respond to positive cases, exposures and potential exposures.
- Reviewing more than 500 mechanical systems with an engineering consultant and building-automation experts to determine necessary mechanical system changes. Reviews incorporate recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control as well as American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers.
- Upgrading filters in accordance with system capabilities and designs.
- Maximizing outside air provisions in accordance with system designs.
- “Flushing” the air in HCPS buildings through continuous air operation.
The School Board will receive an update on health conditions related to the pandemic at its Oct. 8 meeting. A recommendation from the HCPS Health Committee pertaining to the second nine weeks of learning is expected at the Board’s Oct. 22 meeting.