"RPS Direct" Emails from Superintendent Kamras

  • RPS Direct Update - September 17, 2020

    Dear #RPSStrong Family, Thank you to those of you who've sent feedback about our virtual instruction so far. I can't tell you how much we appreciate it! As I shared earlier in the week, it's clear we need to make some adjustments for students and teachers alike. Our Academic Office is working on some updated schedules as we speak and we'll have something concrete to share at the School Board meeting on Monday. In the meantime, please keep sending me your feedback about this, or any other, aspect of our virtual instruction. Thank you! Turning to my RPS Direct from Tuesday, I want to apologize to members of the Hispanic/Latina/Latino/Latinx community who felt overlooked, erased, or whitewashed by my comment that, "At RPS, we use the term LatinX" for this highly diverse community

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  • RPS Direct Update - September 16 (PM), 2020

    Dear #RPSStrong Family, It's National Arts in Education Week and we're thrilled to celebrate, as we know the arts aren’t extra, they’re core - for every child, in every neighborhood of our city. We're fortunate to have an amazing team of fine arts teachers across the division who bring their expertise and passion to their (now virtual) classrooms every day. Just take a look at this video created by Sharon Russell, the Art teacher at Albert Hill Middle School! As a reminder, don't forget that we're launching RPS en Vivo tomorrow at 5:30 pm on the RPS en Español Facebook page. I hope to see you there! Finally, please make sure to read the latest contribution from Rodney Robinson (see below) about the film "Black Boys." He's included links to some powerful articles that I encourage every RPS educator to read.

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  • RPS Direct Update - September 16, 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. Two of the employees were already in quarantine as a result of an earlier positive case at the Seddon Way Transportation Office. One of these individuals was last at that site on 9-3 and the other was last there on 9-14. A third employee from John Marshall High School, who has not been at the school for several months, was at the Vatex Building on 9-15. All three employees are in isolation, per CDC and local guidelines. At the direction of the Richmond City Health Department (RCHD), we encourage anyone who was present at the Seddon Way Transportation Office or the Vatex Building on the dates listed above to monitor their symptoms and reach out to their primary care provider if they have any concerns.

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  • RPS Direct Update - September 15 (PM), 2020

    Dear #RPSStrong Family, Thank you so much for all the feedback about our first week – and, in particular, about our schedule length. Please keep sending your thoughts – about what's working and what's not – by emailing me at jkamras@rvaschools.net. Based on what I've heard so far, it looks like some adjustments are necessary. We're working through the details and I'll have more information soon. Again, thank you for the feedback! Switching gears, today is the start of LatinX Heritage Month and we're thrilled to honor the history, culture and contributions of the LatinX community in Richmond and beyond. Before going any further, I want to acknowledge the differing perspectives on which term to use when referring to the LatinX community. At RPS, we use the term "LatinX" because it's considered by many to be the most inclusive, as it's gender-neutral. That said, we recognize and respect that others prefer Latino, Latina, or Hispanic.

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  • RPS Direct Update - September 15, 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. The employee was present at Thomas Jefferson High School on 9-4 and is in isolation, per CDC and local guidelines. At the direction of the Richmond City Health Department (RCHD), we encourage anyone who was present at Thomas Jefferson High School on 9-4 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. In addition, per RCHD protocol, contact tracers will reach out to anyone who likely had significant exposure to this staff member (within 6 feet for more than 15 minutes). Our number one priority remains the health and safety of our students, staff, and families.

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  • RPS Direct Update - September 14 (PM), 2020

    Dear #RPSStrong Family, I hope you all had a restful weekend! As we head into Week 2, I invite you to share feedback about what's working well and what can be improved with our virtual semester. I've already received some feedback about the length of our schedule in certain grades. I'd love to hear more about this from our families and teachers, especially those in the East End and Southside, whom I haven't heard as much from. Feel free to email me at jkamras@rvaschools.net about this or any other issue. Thank you! Two quick reminders: First, we have a School Board meeting this evening at 6 pm, which you can watch on our Facebook page.

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  • RPS Direct Update - September 14, 2020

    Dear #RPSStrong Family, I'm reaching with a special RPS Direct to share that five RPS employees have tested positive for COVID-19. Three of the employees were present at the 2015 Seddon Way Transportation Office over the past two weeks; one was present at MLK Middle School on 9-3; and one was present at Fox Elementary School on 9-3, 9-4, 9-5, and 9-10. All five employees are in isolation, per CDC and local guidelines. At the direction of the Richmond City Health Department (RCHD), we encourage anyone who was present at the Seddon Way Transportation Office, MLK Middle School, or Fox Elementary School during the time periods 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.

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  • RPS Direct Update - September 12, 2020

    Dear #RPSStrong Family, I'm reaching out with a special RPS Direct to share that an RPS employee has tested positive for COVID-19. The employee was present at Broad Rock Elementary School during Learning Kit preparation on 9-3 and 9-4, and distribution on 9-5 and 9-8. This individual is in isolation, per CDC and local guidelines. At the direction of the Richmond City Health Department (RCHD), we encourage all individuals who were present at Broad Rock Elementary School during these events 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. In addition, per RCHD protocol, contact tracers will reach out to individuals who likely had significant exposure to this staff member (within 6 feet for more than 15 minutes). 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 - September 11, 2020

    Dear #RPSStrong Family, I'd like to begin this evening by remembering all those we lost on 9-11. I was a middle school math teacher in DC then and I'll never forget seeing smoke rise from the Pentagon through our school's windows. The DC school system lost three teachers and three students that day on one of the airplanes; they were on their way to a geography competition. Please join me in a virtual moment of silence to remember them and the nearly 3,000 other individuals who died that harrowing morning. From darkness, let's now move into the light. This past week was one of the finest ever for Richmond Public Schools. I have never been as proud of our teachers, principals, and support staff as I am this evening – YOU made it possible for us to truly #ReopenWithLove.

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  • RPS Direct Update - September 10, 2020 (PM)

    Dear #RPSStrong Family, This evening, I'm thrilled to shine the spotlight on members of the RPS team who #ServeWithLove outside the typical school setting. First up is Lakeisha Allen (far left in the picture below), a member of our new Center for Families in Transition (C-FIT), led by Erika Schmale. In partnership with Housing Families First, the C-FIT team helps some of our highest need families find and move into stable housing. Since its launch in June, C-FIT has connected 15 RPS families with a place to call home. I had the pleasure of visiting two of those families today, including the Artis Family. Ms. Artis (center in the picture below) is truly an inspiration. C-FIT also supports families with basic needs like food, clothing, and toiletries. If you or a family you know is experiencing a housing transition, please complete C-FIT’s online housing survey or call C-FIT at 804-780-6288 for support. RPS is here for you. Many thanks to Henry Graff from NBC12 for covering this story

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  • RPS Direct Update - September 10, 2020

    Dear #RPSStrong Family, I'm reaching out with a special RPS Direct to share that four RPS employees have tested positive for COVID-19. The employees were present at Henderson Middle School and the 2015 Seddon Way Transportation Office over the last two weeks. They are in isolation, per CDC and local guidelines. At the direction of the Richmond City Health Department (RCHD), we encourage all individuals who were present at Henderson Middle School or the 2015 Seddon Way Transportation Office over the last two weeks 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. In addition, per RCHD protocol, contact tracers will reach out to individuals who likely had significant exposure to any of the four staff members (within 6 feet for more than 15 minutes). Finally, out of an abundance of caution, we have decided to reschedule this afternoon's Learning Kit distribution at Henderson MS. Thank you for your understanding.

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  • RPS Direct Update - September 9, 2020

    Dear #RPSStrong Family, Day 2 is in the books! I'd like to begin tonight by sharing pictures from two first graders at Bellevue Elementary. Via Principal Hines, I learned that they wanted to make sure that I/we saw their beautiful home classrooms (Mom approved). Best part? How happy and proud they look to be back "at" Bellevue! I know I shouted them out yesterday, but can we please give it up again for everyone involved in packaging and delivering meals each morning – rain or shine?! Pictured here is the amazing Mike Liggans, who wears so many hats at RPS that it's hard to sum up his extraordinary impact with a job title. Also pictured is Ms. Ross, one of our bus operators. Ms. Ross has been part of the RPS family since she was a child. She attended Stuart (now Obama) ES, Henderson MS, and John Marshall HS. And Mr. Liggans has known her since she was in elementary school. RPS truly is a family!

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  • RPS Direct Update - September 8, 2020

    Dear #RPSStrong Family, We did it! The first day of our virtual semester is in the books and, all things considered, I think it was a great success! THANK YOU to our amazing teachers – you really do rock. I had the opportunity to "visit" a number of classrooms across the city this morning and was so impressed (but not surprised) by the love our educators are bringing to their classrooms and the tech expertise they've already developed. If you're an RPS parent/caregiver, please shoot your child's teacher a quick email this evening to say thank you. It will only take a minute but it will mean the world to them! And a huge THANK YOU to our families! You've got so much on your shoulders right now, and I just want you to know how grateful we are for your partnership and support. Congratulations on making it through Day 1! Click above to read more!

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  • RPS Direct Update - September 7, 2020

    Dear #RPSStrong Family, Happy Labor Day / Back-to-School Eve! Earlier today, I started drafting my RPS Direct message to all of you – our students, families, teachers, principals, support staff, and community partners – but decided a video would be better this evening. I'm filled with enormous gratitude tonight – for the thousands of people who have worked literally around the clock to get us ready for tomorrow, for the privilege and honor of serving RPS, and for the resilience, brilliance, creativity, empathy, humor, and grace of our students. So here it is: my video "love letter" to RPS. Our theme over the past couple of months has been #ReopenWithLove because we truly love our students. Case in point? Check out this incredible back-to-school video from John Marshall High School. (If you only watch one video tonight, choose this one over mine :) Big shout out to Principal Murray for creating a culture of love at JM; LaTonia Kelley, JM's Math Department Chair, for directing the video and performing in it; Cylah James, one of Ms. Kelley's students, for coming up with the idea and editing the lyrics; Brent Butler, JM Interventionist, for recording the sound; Michael Millions, for engineering the sound; and Brannon Gage, for doing all the videography. JM knows what it means to #ReopenWithLove!

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  • RPS Direct Update - September 6, 2020

    Dear #RPSStrong Family, Three important reminders today: 1. Due to some heroic work by the RPS team and dozens of volunteers, we now have enough tablets and hotspots ready to go. Your school will communicate when to pick them up. Some schools have distribution events tomorrow, and some have them on Tuesday. 2. We're doing live demos of how to log onto your Chromebook/tablet and Google classroom TONIGHT at 6 pm and TOMORROW at 10 am on our Facebook page. You do NOT need a Facebook account to watch.

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  • RPS Direct Update - September 5, 2020

    Dear #RPSStrong Family, I hope you had a chance to enjoy the beautiful weather today! To help you cut through what must feel like a deluge of information about next week, here are answers to the top 10 questions I've received over the past 24 hours. I hope this helps! 1. How do I log onto my Chromebook/Tablet and Google Classroom? Click here for an instructional video. We're also doing a live demo tomorrow, September 6, at 6 pm, and Monday, September 7, at 10 am, on our Facebook page. You do NOT need to have a Facebook account to watch. 2. How do I get to my first class? Once you log onto Google Classroom, you'll see the link to your class (for elementary school) or your first period (for middle and high school). Just click on it and off you go!

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  • RPS Direct Update - September 4, 2020

    Dear #RPSStrong Family, I recognize that many students, families, and teachers are still very anxious about the start of the school year. Truth be told, as both Superintendent and RPS parent, I'm a little anxious, too. So today's RPS Direct is all about the supports we've put in place to help you navigate next week. Let's dive in! Support Videos – We're thrilled to launch a series of short videos to help our families get ready for Tuesday. You can find them all here. I've also included a few after my signature; just click on the image of the video you want to watch. Big shout out to the Engagement Office, under the leadership of Dr. Shadae Harris, for putting these together!

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  • RPS Direct Update - September 3, 2020

    Dear #RPSStrong Family, I have lots of updates about reopening below the shout-outs, but I'd like to begin this evening by taking a moment to recognize how special today was for RPS. This morning, in a wonderful ceremony at Cardinal Elementary, Mayor Stoney officially transferred the city's three newest schools to RPS. "Gratitude" doesn't even begin to describe how I feel. In my first 100 days as RPS Superintendent, I visited every one of our schools. During each visit, I'd ask students two questions: "What do you love most about your school?" And "What would make it even better?" I received all kinds of wonderful answers to my first question, including "my teachers," "my friends," and, yes, "recess" :).

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  • RPS Direct Update - September 2, 2020

    Dear #RPSStrong Family, As with yesterday, lots of important updates today, so let's dive in! Learning Kits – Tomorrow kicks off our Learning Kit distribution. For all the details, just click here. If you're unable to come on your assigned date/time, please contact your student's school to make alternate arrangements. And if your school has communicated a date/time that's different from what's listed on our website, follow what your school has communicated. Please note that some kits may be missing items. I wish that weren't the case, but our main supplier – Amazon – has experienced all sorts of shipping delays related to COVID-19. This isn't your child's principal's fault. It's just the reality of where our country is right now. I assure you that as soon as any delayed items arrive, we'll let you know and set up additional pick-up times.

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  • RPS Direct Update - September 1, 2020

    Dear #RPSStrong Family, Lots of important updates today so let's dive in! Facilitated Learning Care – I'm thrilled to report that the School Board last night approved the use of five of our buildings for the City's effort to provide "facilitated learning care" (adult supervision of students while they're participating in virtual instruction). This will be enormously helpful to essential workers who simply cannot perform their jobs from home. The sites will be MLK Middle School (East End), Holton Elementary School (Northside/West End), Huguenot High School (Southside – West), Miles Jones Elementary School (Southside – Central), and Blackwell Elementary School (Southside – East). The City will be launching an enrollment process very soon. As soon as I have additional details, I'll share them in my RPS Direct. Many thanks to the Mayor and his team for leading this critical initiative and dedicating $3 million towards it!

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