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BRUSD Back-to-School info for 2020-2021

June 26, 2020

BLUE RIDGE UPDATE REGARDING THE 2020-21 SCHOOL YEAR

The Blue Ridge Schools strive to provide quality educational choices. In regards to the Upcoming School Year, instructional alternatives will include face-to-face, a hybrid option (incorporating onsite and online learning on alternating days), as well as complete online instruction. In the coming weeks, parents/guardians may select the option that best meets the needs of their children.

Admittedly, views differ sharply regarding measures schools must take to support and protect students and staff. After reviewing surveys representing about 25% of our parents, approximately 1/3 wish to resume school with no social distancing, or protective measures taken, including the wearing of masks. Another third wants to incorporate strict social distancing, and move to an online or an alternating schedule. The balance has not decided how to proceed, yet prefer a variety of instructional options to be made available. As a public school district, our charge is to try to meet the needs of all. Therefore, flexibility is vital.

Blue Ridge is planning to reopen on August 3, 2020, incorporating physical distancing and daily health evaluation, including temperature checks, hygiene protocols, and the frequent cleaning of our facilities. However, given the rapid spread of the virus, we must also prepare alternative educational settings.

Please note, our efforts this spring were an honest attempt to provide virtual learning support, but they do not reflect online education. I'm proud of our teachers and their efforts, and transforming schools overnight placed them in an impossible position. Since then, however, we've worked earnestly to secure high-quality online content and delivery systems for our students. We have also provided training to offer our staff the tools and support required to succeed.

In the future, students participating online will be held accountable for their attendance, participation, and completion of work. Grading requirements will reflect those expected of students physically attending school, and teachers will be responsible for performing duties that enhance student learning and accountability. Pass/Fail grades will not be issued.

Moreover, effective online education incorporates the evaluation of student abilities and progress, tailoring instruction to the learner's unique needs. Therefore, we've worked closely with a major university, and other quality providers to determine which of several options is best. We recognize learning styles differ, and the requirements of students vary by grade level and ability. Thus, we are doing our best to find creative solutions for all, including our kids requiring exceptional support. A quality K-12 option will be available to all when school resumes.

Next, schools will incorporate meaningful physical distancing and hygiene practices within classrooms, mealtime, recess, and during passing periods. Facilities will be disinfected daily. Equipment was purchased to ensure the cleanliness of our schools. However, transporting students is our challenge, still steps, including the requirement of all bus riders (grades 2-12) to wear a mask (except for those with medical conditions prohibiting their use). Additionally, we also understand the desire to create a warm and welcoming environment for kids and are trying to strike a balance between safety and comfort.

Mask-wearing is a contentious subject with strong feelings on both sides of the issue. Therefore, this topic is still under review. Rest assured, however, that our schools will take reasonable precautionary steps to enhance everyone's safety. Furthermore, if the spread of the virus persists, we may be compelled to move to a hybrid or an online-only option (depending upon future local conditions and State mandates.)

Lastly, kindness and civility have never been more critical. I pray our community comes together in support of our kids, setting aside our differences and focus our energies on supporting those we love the most.

Thank you for your consideration.


Respectfully,

Michael L. Wright, Ed. D.

Superintendent

Blue Ridge Unified Schools

GO, JACKETS!