Henrico, Va., Oct. 23, 2020 — Henrico County Public Schools will offer expanded in-person learning options and enhanced safety protocols, to be phased in beginning with younger elementary students starting Nov. 30 and concluding with high school students in February. HCPS families will also have the option to continue using a fully virtual approach for students. Students choosing the in-person option will be in school buildings four days a week and learn virtually from home on Wednesdays. The expansion of in-person learning will be accompanied by enhanced safety protocols in school facilities and buses. The School Board voted 4-1 to adopt the plan after hearing recommendations from the HCPS Health Committee and Superintendent Amy Cashwell, as well as staff and public comments, at its Thursday work session.
Implementation of the phased-in approach will be dependent on continued analysis of health and safety data and the recommendation of public health experts.
To see videos from the work session and meeting, and to see answers to frequently asked questions about the in-person option, go to https://henricoschools.us/returntoschoolplan/.
Town hall meetings scheduled
The school division will hold two informational “town hall” meetings next week for HCPS staff members and HCPS student households in order to discuss the plan and answer questions submitted in advance. The meetings will be conducted virtually to accommodate potentially thousands of participants while prioritizing safety.
- HCPS Virtual Community Town Hall Meeting
- HCPS Virtual Staff Town Hall Meeting on In-Person Option (details being communicated internally to HCPS employees)
- Tuesday, Oct. 27
Phased-in approach for in-person learning
The in-person schedule will be phased in over several months starting with elementary school students, who often face the most challenges with virtual learning:
- Monday, Nov. 30: Grades pre-K, K, 1 and 2 would have the option to return to in-person learning.
- Monday, Dec. 7: Grades 3, 4 and 5 would have the option to return to in-person learning.
- Jan. 4-8: Learning would be virtual for all students during the week after Winter Break.
- Monday, Feb. 1 (start of second semester): Grades 6 and 9 would have the option to return to in-person learning.
- Thursday, Feb. 4: Grades 7, 8; 10, 11 and 12 would have the option to return to in-person learning.
The five-day schedule for fully virtual students will continue (with an abbreviated schedule on Wednesdays.) Students choosing the in-person option would attend school four days a week, and would learn virtually on Wednesdays to allow for additional deep cleaning of schools as well as teacher planning:
- In-person students will be in school buildings four days per week: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. Virtual “Wellness Wednesdays” will be characterized by:
- Additional deep cleaning of schools.
- Two hours of teacher-led virtual learning.
- Additional independent student learning time.
- Academic and social/emotional support.
- Teacher planning and professional learning time.
HCPS will adopt a number of risk-mitigation protocols recommended by the HCPS Health Committee:
- Using 6-foot distancing for classroom seating.
- Maintaining “cohort” groupings of students as much as possible.
- Creating one-way traffic patterns in school hallways.
- Adjusting the secondary master schedule to stagger and extend transition times.
- Continue a host of specific safety improvements underway, including staff training, cleaning, use of masks, three-sided protective guards for all desks, HVAC air flushing and other measures.
School visitors will be by appointment only and will be limited to main offices. Large-group gatherings and field trips will not be held. Random temperature checks of students and staff will be conducted in schools. Secondary students will be assigned to “lunch pods” of other students for meals. To see safety measures the school division continues to implement, go to https://henricoschools.us/healthupdate/preparing-for-a-return.