"RPS Direct" Emails from Superintendent Kamras

  • RPS Direct Update - December 3, 2020

    Dear #RPSStrong Family, This evening, I’d like to preview the recommendation I’ll be making to the School Board on Monday regarding the second semester. Before doing so, I want to express my profound gratitude to the nearly 10,000 families and staff who responded to our surveys, as well as the hundreds of people who reached out to me personally to share their thoughts. I also want to thank our educators and support staff, our families, and most of all, our students, for showing each other so much grace over the past several months. Though our fall has been far from perfect, I do believe we managed to #ReopenWithLove and we should all be immensely proud of that. At Monday’s School Board meeting, I will recommend that we remain fully virtual for the second semester. I plan to do so for three reasons. First, given rapidly rising infection rates, I continue to be very concerned about the health and safety of our students, staff, and families. Just yesterday, the United States experienced the highest number of COVID deaths and hospitalizations ever. Here in Virginia, we also hit a new high for hospitalizations.

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  • RPS Direct Update - December 2 (PM), 2020

    Dear #RPSStrong Family, Don't forget to tune in at 6 pm tonight on the RPS Facebook page for our Civic Voices Town Hall about retaining, developing, and recruiting male teachers of color. Please note that RPS Live! will return next Wednesday at 7 pm. Switching gears, we're looking for volunteers to help distribute Winter Break meal packs from Tuesday, December 15, through Thursday, December 17. If you can help, please sign up here. Thank you! Finally, in case you missed them, check out these two articles about our 2020 REB Winners and the Richmond Alternative School Turkey Giveaway. Thanks to Kenya Hunter from the RTD for covering these stories!

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  • RPS Direct Update - December 2, 2020

    Dear #RPS Strong Family, I'm reaching out with this special RPS Direct to share that one staff member and five students have tested positive for COVID-19: Huguenot High School – 2 students (not physically present this academic year) J.B. Fisher Elementary School – 1 staff member (last there on 11-20) J.H. Blackwell Elementary School – 1 student (not physically present this academic year) J.L. Francis Elementary School – 2 students (both were at a distribution event on 11-18) Please reach out to your primary care provider if you have any concerns, or contact the Richmond City Health District (RCHD) by calling their COVID-19 hotline: (804) 205-3501. Our number one priority remains the health and safety of our students, staff, and families. We will continue to work in close collaboration with RCHD to ensure the well-being of the entire RPS community.

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  • RPS Direct Update - December 1, 2020

    Dear #RPSStrong Family, We have a great RPS Civic Voices Town Hall lined up for tomorrow focused on retaining, developing, and recruiting male teachers of color. It will be moderated by 2019 National Teacher of the Year Rodney Robinson and George Wythe Senior Corey Stuckey, and will feature all-star group of panelists: Mr. Atif Qarni, Virginia Secretary of Education Dr. Andrew Daire, Dean, VCU School of Education Dr. Walter Willis, Dean, Virginia State University Dr. Maurice Carter, Director, Longwood University Dr. Javaid Siddiqi, President and CEO, Hunt Institute Mr. Lamont Trotter, Principal, Richmond Alternative School Dr. Travis Wilkins, Teacher, Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School Mr. Lyons Sanchezconcha, Teacher, Huguenot High School Please make sure to join us TOMORROW at 6 pm on the RPS Facebook page! Two more quick reminders: The Richmond City Health District is hosting its next flu clinic TOMORROW, from 1 - 4 pm, at Huguenot HS.

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  • RPS Direct Update - November 30 (PM), 2020

    Dear #RPSStrong Family, I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving break! In addition to losing multiple games of football keep-away with my boys, I got some much-needed sleep. All ready for December! Please see below for a few time-sensitive reminders: Winter Break Meal Packs – TODAY is the deadline to reserve meal packs for Winter Break. You can place your order in English or Español. Open Enrollment – The deadline to apply for out-of-zone schools and specialty schools is TOMORROW at 4:30 pm. To learn about the different programs at our schools, check out our Virtual School Tour. Please also take a look at our Enroll RPS videos in our Family Academy Virtual Library. DonorsChoose Bonus – If you make a donation to a DonorsChoose project TOMORROW it will automatically be doubled. So a $20 donation instantly becomes a $40 donation! Teachers, whether you need extra books or a new piece of tech for your virtual classroom, now is a great time to create a project on DonorsChoose. Community members, if you'd like to support RPS teachers, please consider donating here! Civic Voices Town Hall – Please join us via the RPS Facebook page at 6 pm on Wednesday, December 2, for our next RPS Civic Voices Town Hall. The event will be moderated by our very own Mr. Rodney Robinson and will feature RPS educators, community leaders, and advocates engaging in a discussion about recruiting and investing in male teachers of color. Click above to continue reading!

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  • RPS Direct Update - November 30, 2020

    Dear #RPS Strong Family, I'm reaching out with this special RPS Direct to share that seven staff members and four students have tested positive for COVID-19: Academic Office – 2 staff members (last at City Hall on 10-28) J.L. Francis Elementary School – 1 student (not physically present this academic year) Maymont Preschool – 1 staff member (not physically present this academic year) Oak Grove-Bellemeade Elementary School – 1 student (not physically present this academic year) Richmond Alternative School – 1 student (not physically present this academic year) River City Middle School – 1 staff member (last there on 11-17) Thomas Jefferson High School – 2 staff members (one was last there on 10-21) and 1 student (not physically present this academic year) YMCA Facilitated Learning Center at Miles J. Jones Elementary School – 1 staff member (last there on 11-24; as a result, entire site closed until 12-9) Please reach out to your primary care provider if you have any concerns, or contact the Richmond City Health District by calling their COVID-19 hotline: (804) 205-3501.

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  • RPS Direct Update - November 24, 2020 (PM)

    Dear #RPSStrong Family, Well, I said "flood" my inbox with shout outs – and flood you did! Thank you for sharing more than 100 beautiful messages of appreciation for our teachers, administrators, support staff, partners, families, and students. (I encourage you to read all the way to the end, as the last one is guaranteed to put a smile on your face.) I can't express how much these words of support, encouragement, and gratitude mean to the recipients. On behalf of RPS, thank you to everyone who wrote in! Before I sign off for the holiday break, I also want to express my profound gratitude to our principals, teachers, and support staff. Since March 13, you have delivered more than 2 million meals, purchased and distributed over 20,000 Chromebooks, facilitated more than 30,000 community circles, and literally reinvented what it means to be a teacher – all with boundless love for our students and families. In short, you have demonstrated that RPS is capable of doing truly extraordinary things. This Thanksgiving, I'm grateful for you. With the deepest appreciation, Jason

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  • RPS Direct Update - November 24, 2020

    Dear #RPS Strong Family, I'm reaching out with this special RPS Direct to share that three staff members and two students have tested positive for COVID-19. The staff are from the Belt Boulevard Transportation Office (last there on 11-23), Armstrong High School (last there on 11-17), and the Academic Office in City Hall (last there in October). The student cases are from Ginter Park Elementary School and Thomas Jefferson High School (neither has been on campus this year). We encourage everyone to monitor their symptoms and reach out to their primary care provider if they have any concerns. They can also contact the Richmond City Health District’s COVID-19 hotline at (804) 205-3501. Our number one priority remains the health and safety of our students, staff, and families. We will continue to work in close collaboration with RCHD to ensure the well-being of the entire RPS community. If you have any questions, as always, please don't hesitate to contact me. Best, Jason

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  • RPS Direct Update - November 23, 2020

    Dear #RPSStrong Family, I am heartbroken to share – yet again – that we have lost another student to gun violence. I no longer have the words to convey the sadness and anger I feel in the face of these senseless tragedies. So I'm going to channel my energy tonight into a plea for action. If you, or someone you know, is in trouble, please reach out for help: Mental Health – Call the Richmond Behavioral Health Authority crisis line at (804) 819-4100. Domestic Violence – Call the Safe Harbor crisis line at (804) 612-6126. Child Abuse – Call the Virginia Child Protective Services crisis line at (800) 552-7096. Suicide – Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-8255. Let's also fight the darkness of this tragedy with light. Please flood my inbox with shout-outs tonight so that tomorrow's RPS Direct – my last before Thanksgiving – turns into one long love letter to our teachers, support staff, families, and partners. With great appreciation, Jason

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  • RPS Direct Update - November 20 (PM), 2020

    Dear #RPSStrong Family, Happy Friday! Just a few reminders tonight: All RPS schools and offices will be closed next Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday for Thanksgiving. Please note that we'll be providing double meals next Monday and Tuesday. For more information, please go to www.rvaschools.net/meals. Our surveys about the second semester are still open. If you haven't had a chance to weigh in, please do so using the following links: Family Survey in English, Encuesta de Familias en Español, and Staff Survey. As of 5 pm today, we're up to 2,447 staff responses and 4,913 family responses (English and Spanish). Don't forget that the deadline to apply for out-of-zone schools and specialty schools is December 1 at 4:30 pm. To learn about the different programs at our schools, check out our Virtual School Tour. The Lit Limo will be very busy tomorrow. We hope to see you! (Westover Hills Elementary School, 9 am; Elizabeth D. Redd Elementary School, 9:30 am; Miles J. Jones Elementary School, 10 am; G.H. Reid Elementary School, 10:30 am; J.L. Francis Elementary School, 11 am; Cardinal Elementary School, 11:30 am; Swansboro Elementary School, 12 pm; J.H. Blackwell Elementary School, 12:30 pm) To close out your week, please take a couple of minutes to watch this wonderful video of Bellevue Elementary School students singing "America the Beautiful" in honor of Veterans Day. Go, Dragons! With great appreciation, Jason

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  • RPS Direct Update - November 20, 2020

    Dear #RPS Strong Family, I'm reaching out with this special RPS Direct to share that an individual who was present at the Chromebook distribution event at Overby-Sheppard Elementary School on 11-17 has tested positive for COVID-19. We encourage anyone who was at this location on the date listed above to monitor their symptoms and reach out to their primary care provider if they have any concerns. They can also contact the Richmond City Health District’s COVID-19 hotline at (804) 205-3501. Our number one priority remains the health and safety of our students, staff, and families. We will continue to work in close collaboration with RCHD to ensure the well-being of the entire RPS community. If you have any questions, as always, please don't hesitate to contact me. Best, Jason

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  • RPS Direct Update - November 19 (PM), 2020

    Dear #RPSStrong Family, Tonight I'd like to walk you through our graduation data from last year, drawing from the presentation that Dr. Epp, our Chief Academic Officer, shared with the School Board on Monday. I've promised to always give it to you straight, so here goes: We improved our graduation rate by about 1 percentage point, but our overall rate remains unacceptably low. Fortunately, we not only have a plan to improve things, but we've already started implementing it – even amidst the pandemic. As a result, we're seeing positive signs in the data for this year's graduating class. To learn more, I encourage you to keep reading. I know it's a lot, but it's all important. First, some historical context. Just a few months after I started at RPS, we launched an audit of our high school transcripts in partnership with the Virginia Department of Education. Those of you who were here then may remember that this audit revealed numerous problems with our internal transcript practices.

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  • RPS Direct Update - November 19, 2020

    Dear #RPS Strong Family, I'm reaching out with this special RPS Direct to share that three RPS employees have tested positive for COVID-19. These individuals work at Broad Rock Elementary School (last there in September), John Marshall High School (last there on 10-28), and the Commerce Road Facilities Office (last there on 11-16). We encourage anyone who has concerns to reach out to their primary care provider or contact the Richmond City Health District’s COVID-19 hotline at (804) 205-3501. Our number one priority remains the health and safety of our students, staff, and families. We will continue to work in close collaboration with RCHD to ensure the well-being of the entire RPS community. If you have any questions, as always, please don't hesitate to contact me. Best, Jason

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  • RPS Direct Update - November 18 (PM), 2020

    Dear #RPSStrong Family, I've got some very exciting news to share tonight! The University of Richmond announced earlier today that, starting with this year's applicants, any RPS student who is accepted and has financial need will receive GRANTS to cover that need, not loans. On behalf of RPS, I want to express my deep appreciation to President Crutcher and the entire U of R team for taking this bold step. The word "equity" gets thrown around a lot in education, but real equity requires real dollars. And that's exactly what U of R just put on the table. RPS seniors, if you've never thought about the University of Richmond because of the cost, well, here's the link to apply! Shifting to the Open Enrollment process, I'm excited to share our new Virtual School Fair to help you learn all about our schools. As a reminder, the deadline to submit an application is December 1 at 4:30 pm.

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  • RPS Direct Update - November 18, 2020

    Dear #RPS Strong Family, I'm reaching out with this special RPS Direct to share that an RPS employee has tested positive for COVID-19. This individual works at Linwood Holton Elementary School and was last there on 10-14. Though the employee was last at this site over a month ago, we still encourage anyone who was present at this location on the date listed above to monitor their symptoms and reach out to their primary care provider if they have any concerns. Individuals can also contact RCHD’s COVID-19 hotline at (804) 205-3501. Our number one priority remains the health and safety of our students, staff, and families. We will continue to work in close collaboration with the Richmond City Health District to ensure the well-being of the entire RPS community. If you have any questions, as always, please don't hesitate to contact me. Best, Jason

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  • RPS Direct Update - November 17 (PM), 2020

    Dear #RPSStrong Family, Enormous gratitude to Dr. Danny Avula, Director of the Richmond and Henrico Health Districts, for sharing a COVID-19 update at the School Board meeting last night. He'll be on RPS Live! this Wednesday as well, so make sure to tune in at 7 pm on the RPS Facebook page to ask any questions you have. If you haven't had a chance to weigh in on our plans for the second semester, please do so using the following links: Family Survey in English, Encuesta de Familias en Español, and Staff Survey. Below I've included screenshots of the results as of 2 pm today. As you can see, so far, roughly 80% of our staff are in support of remaining virtual, as are more than 60% of our families. I do want to note that, while our family data is becoming more demographically representative of RPS each day, it is still under-representing families of color, who make up about 90% of RPS but only 65% of survey respondents. Our goal is to achieve a fully representative picture of how our families feel about the second semester, which is why we're keeping the survey open for the next couple of weeks. Please share the links broadly with your RPS networks.

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  • RPS Direct Update - November 17, 2020

    Dear #RPS Strong Family, I'm reaching out with this special RPS Direct to share that five students have tested positive for COVID-19 – one each from Broad Rock Elementary School, Chimborazo Elementary School, J.H. Blackwell Elementary School, J.L. Francis Elementary School, and John Marshall High School. The students have not been on campus this academic year. Our number one priority remains the health and safety of our students, staff, and families. We will continue to work in close collaboration with the Richmond City Health District to ensure the well-being of the entire RPS community. If you have any questions, as always, please don't hesitate to contact me. Best, Jason

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  • RPS Direct Update - November 16, 2020

    Dear #RPSStrong Family, A belated Happy Diwali to all who celebrate! Wishing you light and love this year! A few reminders tonight: We have a School Board meeting this evening at 6 pm, which you can watch on the RPS Facebook page. Among other topics, we'll be discussing (but not yet deciding) our plans for the second semester. Joining us will be Dr. Danny Avula, Director of the Richmond and Henrico Health Districts. Speaking of the second semester, if you haven't had a chance to provide feedback via our surveys, please do so using the following links: Family Survey in English, Encuesta de Familias en Español, and Staff Survey. Don't forget that all RPS schools will be closed from Wednesday, November 25 - Friday, November 27, for Thanksgiving! Families can pick up extra meals on Monday, November 23, and Tuesday, November 24. Finally, remember the embryology project that our 3rd graders were working with the chicken egg webcam? Well, the chics are expected to hatch any minute now! With great appreciation, Jason

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  • RPS Direct Update - November 13, 2020

    Dear #RPSStrong Family, Happy Friday! Now that the Registrar's Office has certified the results of the School Board elections, I'd like to officially congratulate the incoming Board! First District: Liz Doerr Second District: Mariah White Third District: Kenya Gibson Fourth District: Jonathan Young Fifth District: Stephanie Rizzi Sixth District: Shonda Harris-Muhammed Seventh District: Cheryl Burke Eighth District: Dawn Page Ninth District: Nicole Jones To learn more about the newest members, check out this great piece by Alan Rodriguez Espinoza of VPM. I also want to acknowledge and express deep appreciation to the outgoing members: Scott Barlow, Felicia Cosby, Pat Sapini, and our current Board Chair, Linda Owen. Finally, please join me in thanking everyone who ran. Entering the public arena is not easy. Win or lose, every candidate should be applauded for stepping up on behalf of Richmond's children.

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  • RPS Direct Update - November 12 (PM), 2020

    Dear #RPSStrong Family, First, a quick correction: the student case of COVID-19 that I shared earlier today was from J.L. Francis Elementary School, not J.B. Fisher Elementary School. I apologize for the error. Tonight, I want to begin a conversation with all of you about how to proceed for the second semester, which begins on February 8, 2021. Let me first acknowledge how challenging this fall has been – for families, teachers, support staff, and students. On behalf of RPS, thank you for your persistence, creativity, flexibility, and most of all, love. As strange as it may seem, though we are physically apart, in many ways, the crucible of the past seven months has brought us closer together. I hope and pray that we remain so well after the pandemic is firmly under control. To help inform our decision-making, we want – need – your feedback. Towards that end, tonight we are launching both family and staff surveys (see links below). I want to thank the members of our Reopening Committee (who've stuck with it for several months now!) for providing invaluable feedback as we drafted the survey. Please note that all responses will be anonymous and all data will be publicly shared. I respectfully request that you honor each other’s voices by only responding once to the survey.

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