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COVID-19 Update - June 5, 2020

  • Dear #RPSStrong Family,
     
    To close the week, I'm honored to share a reflection from one of our students: Amia Graham, the 2020 Thomas Jefferson HS Valedictorian, and the senior with the highest GPA of any RPS graduate this year. She'll be attending UVA in the fall. As you'll she, she's not only a powerful writer, but she's also a collaborative one; she's included the words of one her of her classmates, Kamari Branch. I'm going to rest a bit easier this evening knowing that Amia and Kamari will soon be in charge. 
     
    With great appreciation,
     
    Jason
     
     
    Reflection by Amia Graham, 2020 Valedictorian at Thomas Jefferson HS
     
    Back in 2019, the running joke was the Class of 2020 would have 20/20 vision. We all laughed, but little did we know how true it would be. This year has provided the world with clarity about many glaring issues that have been largely ignored and shoved under the rug to deal with later – or not at all. Well now is later.
     
    We now see the glaring issues in the healthcare industry and how unprepared we are for the situation we find ourselves in. The world knew it was only a matter of time before another global pandemic hit, and instead of heeding the warnings and preparing for the inevitable flood of patients, we continued on, business as usual. Doctors and nurses are now in the impossible situation of having to put themselves and their families at risk everyday due to a lack of PPE. Despite this, hundreds of white people held protests all over the country, wielding AR-15’s and screaming in the faces of police officers – who did nothing to retaliate – demanding their local government to open their states back up because they were tired of sitting in the house and wanted to get haircuts and manicures.
     
    White Americans have also just opened their eyes to the injustices black people continue to face every day, as if we haven’t been screaming for equality and freedom since 1619. The first time I realized I was black and the effect it would have on my life, I was in the fifth grade. Trayvon Martin had just been murdered and when I looked at his picture on the television, I could see my older cousin in him. I looked at my parents and they just shook their heads and told me to sit down because we needed to talk. My whole viewpoint on the world changed that night. Up until this point, I had only heard of racism in my history class and I never fathomed anything like that could happen during my lifetime. Since the young age of eleven, I have been forced to see people that look like me murdered in the streets like animals, yet the real animals went home to their families and kissed their children goodnight
    .
    I am angry. I am tired. I am hurt. And I can’t breathe. I am filled with fear every time I see a cop on the road, but when I see my people protesting and chanting "Black Lives Matter," I am filled with unimaginable joy and pride because MY LIFE MATTERS and so do the lives of every black person on this planet. Until that singular fact is acknowledged, nothing will change. Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd are just the latest names in a long list of unjust slaughters of black people in America and we will never know most of them.
     
    I reached out to my friends on this topic because it affects all of us and this is what Kamari Branch, number seven in our class at Thomas Jefferson High School with a 4.5 GPA, had to say:
    In the book The Hate U Give, Angie Thomas writes: “What's the point of having a voice if you're gonna be silent in those moments you shouldn't be?” I believe the younger generations should be responsible for using their voices in a positive way and to never ignore injustice. I am so happy that we were all able to come together for an important cause. Protesters from all backgrounds all over the country have gathered to protect black lives. We must make sure that we continue this trend. We must recognize that it is our civic responsibility to speak against hate. It is our civic responsibility to speak when someone is murdered by a police officer because of their skin color. It is our civic responsibility to speak when a country is bombed and the deaths of hundreds of innocent people are labelled as collateral damage. It is our civic responsibility to speak when children fall victim to gun violence in their schools because the Second Amendment is more important than their safety. It is our civic responsibility to speak when people are being separated from their families and deported to foreign countries. It is our civic responsibility to speak when queer people are brutally beaten for living and for loving who they choose. I read this quote every day to remind me that it is our civic responsibility to protect those who need protecting. We cannot stand by and watch other people suffer because, if it was them, then it could be you.
     
    America has reached a significant point in history. Children will be learning about this year for years to come, just like we learn about the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. America will never be the same after this year because black people now refuse to be seen as anything less than the beautiful, wonderful, intelligent, and magical HUMANS we are.
     
     
    Today's Updates
    • Edgenuity Deadline – As a reminder, the deadline to complete Edgenuity modules is this Monday (June 8) for seniors and next Friday (June 12) for 9th-11th graders and any middle school students taking HS courses. Please note that Edgenuity is updating their system tonight from 10:00 pm to 4:00 am to accommodate the increased volume they're experiencing right now. Please plan accordingly.
    • Secondary Course Selection – The last day for rising 6th-12th graders to complete the Secondary Course Selection Form is Tuesday (June 9) at 4 pm. Please visit your school’s website if you need to access the form or need additional information. Verification of course selection will be sent to families during the week of June 15.
    • RPS SummerCamp@Home – See below for the details and sign up here.
     
     
    Shout-outs! – Please keep sending them to me at jkamras@rvaschools.net!
    • I’m sending a big virtual hug and shout out to ITRT’s Stacey Green and Ashley Jackson, as well Barbara Haas (Media Specialist), Nikitia Johnson (ICC), and Geraldo Williams (Spanish teacher) for supporting and loving our students enough to collect and distribute 47 laptops and hotspots to our Mason students on Thursday, 6/4/20.
    • I would love to give a shoutout to Ashley Jackson. She's had many shoutouts before, but she really deserves each one. Throughout the entire computer distribution process she has worked so hard to get all families and students what they need to succeed outside of school. She is truly a champion for all RPS students. Your Cary fam loves you!!!
    • I would like to shout out Ms. Alyson Davis in our Talent Office. She is always pleasant, patient, and extremely helpful with whatever question I may have. It is always a pleasure to speak with her.
    • I would like to extend a special shout out to Ms. Yolande Williams, Instructional Assistant at Huguenot High School, for always going above and beyond to make our low-incidence students feel special and valued. She delivered graduation baskets filled with all types of goodies to her graduating students to celebrate their accomplishment – something they will remember for a very long time.
    • I want to shout out Ms. Kara Dantzler, MA, CCC-SLP with the Speech Therapy Team at RPS. After schools closed, she became our three-year-old son's speech therapist and transitioned to our ISP to provide teletherapy. She has been a bright spot in our lives every week during this quarantine! Our son will not last 5 minutes on a video call with friends and family but will sit down and completely engage in a 30-minute video speech session with Ms. Kara! We really appreciate her thorough communication, prompt feedback, and quick adaptation to making sure our child continues to get the services he needs even though schools are closed. Thank you, Ms. Kara!
    • I would like to send a shout-out to Rochelle Wilkins and Ashley Jackson for their three-way call to assist a Thomas Jefferson student with her Chromebook and Edgenuity issues. They are the best!!!!
    • I would like to give a shoutout to the amazing group of volunteers at John B. Cary during Thursday's makeup distribution day! And thanks to the security officer for checking on families in the heat. Everyone there worked so hard to ensure students and families received what they needed. Thanks to all the students and families who braved the heat to come out!
    • I would like to give a special shoutout to Barbara Haas. Her commitment to serve has been phenomenal and she goes above and beyond what is asked. You rock!
    • I would like to send a huge thank you to the rockstar staff at John B. Cary! You always set the bar for how to serve with love. A special shoutout to Michael Powell, Angela Wright, Heather Lackey, Ryan Bennett, Ingrid Cauthorne, Mary Henderson, and Lindsay Barnes.
    • I would like to shoutout Geraldo Williams (Spanish teacher), Nikitia Johnson (Instructional Compliance Coordinator), and Nichele Ford (Assistant Principal) from George Mason Elementary for their commitment to the students they serve. Your hard work has not gone unnoticed! You are the best of the best!
     
     
    Graduation  – As shared previously, we’ll be holding both in-person and virtual graduation ceremonies for the Class of 2020!
     
    For the in-person ceremonies, graduates will be able to experience the ”walk across the stage” in their cap and gown, though the exact location of the ceremony will vary at each school. Given social distancing requirements, graduates will only be able to bring three family members and will have a specific time slot on their school’s assigned date. In addition, all attendees will be required to wear face coverings.
     
    For the virtual ceremonies, we’re working with a local production company to create a video that will include all the regular graduation speeches and a slide for each senior, along with the ability for families to post congratulatory comments while the ceremonies are broadcast.
     
    See below for the dates and times of both the in-person and virtual ceremonies. For additional school-specific information, please contact your counselor.
     
    In-Person Ceremony Schedule
    Tuesday, June 23
    • Amelia Street, 12:00 pm
    • Armstrong High School, 8:00 am
    • John Marshall High School, 11:00 am
    • Richmond Community High School, 8:00 am
    Thursday, June 25
    • Franklin Military Academy, 9:00 am
    • Huguenot High School, 9:00 am
    • Thomas Jefferson High School, 9:00 am
    Friday, June 26
    • George Wythe High School, 8:00 am
    • Open High School, 9:00 am
    • Richmond Career Education & Employment Academy, 12:00 pm

     

    Note: The times listed above are the START times for the ceremonies. Each graduate will receive a specific time-slot, as indicated by their high school.
     
    Virtual Ceremony Schedule
    Monday, June 22
    • Amelia Street, 12:00 pm
    • Armstrong High School, 1:00 pm
    • Richmond Community High School, 3:00 pm
    • George Wythe High School, 5:00 pm
    • John Marshall High School, 7:00 pm
    Wednesday, June 24
    • Richmond Career Education & Employment Academy, 12:00 pm
    • Franklin Military Academy, 1:00 pm
    • Huguenot High School, 3:00 pm
    • Thomas Jefferson High School, 5:00 pm
    • Open High School, 7:00 pm

     

    Note: Once the virtual ceremonies are broadcast, they’ll be available for viewing online at any time.
     
     
     
    RPS SummerCamp@Home  – Preschool through eighth grade students will have the opportunity to participate in a virtual camp experience this summer that includes both academics and a broad array of enrichment activities. We're calling it RPS SummerCamp@Home. Big thanks to our partners on this: YMCA of Greater RichmondBellXcel, and NextUp
    • Who: All RPS PreK-8 students
    • When: June 29 – July 31 
    • Where: Virtually
    • Cost: Free!

     

    Each week will have a theme:
    • Week 1: “RPS Strong” – Developing healthy minds and healthy bodies!
    • Week 2: “RPS Calm” – Learning mindfulness and meditation practices!
    • Week 3: “RPS Active” – Getting up and moving!
    • Week 4: “RPS Loud” – Making music and dancing!
    • Week 5: “RPS Creative” – Unleashing creativity! 

     

    Here are a few examples of the virtual enrichment courses that students will have access to:
    • Contemporary Dance
    • Culinary Explorations
    • Latin Salsa & Hip Hop
    • Mindfulness & Art
    • Outdoor Explorers
    • So You Want to Win the Fortnite World Cup?
    • TECHNOLOchicas: Learn Basic Coding
    • Video & Filmmaking
    • Yoga Exploration

     

    To register for RPS SummerCamp@Home, just click here!
     
    Please note that high school students and middle school students taking high school courses will have the opportunity this summer to complete their spring 2020 Edgenuity modules and take virtual credit recovery courses. We'll have more information about this very soon.
     
     
    PD Sessions for Teachers  – We have a couple of exciting professional development opportunities to share. First, during the week of June 8, the Department of Curriculum and Instruction will be offering introductory sessions on Virtual Teaching, Social and Emotional Learning (SEL), and more. Be on the lookout for more information directly from the C&I team.
     
    Second, VCU’s Summer Learning Academy is being offered to educators at a 50% discount given the financial impact of COVID-19 and the program's shift to an online format. Please use this registration form to sign up.
     
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Reminders!

  • - Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, and help young children do the same. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

    - Wash your hands especially after coughing and sneezing, before and after caring for an ill person, and before preparing foods and before eating

    - Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze and then throw the tissue in the trash.

    - Avoid touching your eyesnose, or mouth with unwashed hands.

    - Avoid close contact (such as kissing, sharing cups, or sharing eating utensils) with people who are sick

    - Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects, such as toys and doorknobs, especially if someone is sick.

    - Stay home when you are sick, except when you need to get medical care.