"RPS Direct" Emails from Supt. Kamras

  • RPS Direct Update - July 3, 2020

    Dear #RPSStrong Family, Since we're closed today, I wasn't planning on sending an RPS Direct, but I wanted to clarify what's happening with meal distribution on Monday, July 6. The RPS distribution will be closed, but the city's Parks and Rec meal distribution will be open (RPS will be open again on Tuesday, July 7). Please see below for locations and times of the Parks and Rec program. With great appreciation, Jason Click above to view meal schedules!

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  • RPS Direct Update - July 2, 2020

    Dear #RPSStrong Family, This morning, I had the opportunity to tour the new River City Middle School on the Southside with Mayor Stoney, School Board Chair Owen, and School Board Vice Chair Burke. The school is stunning – and huge! See below for pictures of the main atrium, one of the science labs, the media center, the auditorium, the full-service kitchen, and the athletic fields. I'll admit I was borderline giddy when I walked through River City today. It's beautiful, full of all the amenities our children deserve, and primed for 21st Century learning. Our students will know that we love them very much when they walk through the doors this fall. Click above to read more!

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  • RPS Direct Update - July 1, 2020

    Dear #RPSStrong Family, What a historic day in Richmond! Enormous gratitude to Mayor Stoney for taking decisive action this afternoon to remove the Stonewall Jackson statue from Monument Avenue. As the skies darkened and the rain poured, it seemed for a moment as if the Lost Cause was staging one final campaign to preserve the past. But the removal crew – and the hundreds of cheering supporters – remained. And in the end, the statue came down and the skies cleared. As I shared when we renamed J.E.B. Stuart Elementary to Barack Obama Elementary, changing names and removing statues doesn't eliminate any of the injustices encoded in our laws and policies – but these actions matter nonetheless. Click above to read more!

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  • RPS Direct Update - June 30, 2020

    Dear #RPSStrong Family, I'm thrilled to announce that we've hired a new Chief Talent Officer! Sandra K. Lee is coming to us from Gallup-McKinley County Schools (GMCS) in New Mexico, which serves the Navajo Nation and the Zuni Pueblo. She officially joins us starting tomorrow. Before coming to RPS, Sandra served as the Director of Human Resources for GMCS. Among other roles, she has also served as a teacher and principal in both GMCS and the San Francisco Unified School District. Click above to read more!

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  • RPS Direct Update - June 29, 2020

    Dear #RPSStrong Family, As a reminder, we have a special School Board work session this evening at 6 pm focused exclusively on our reopening plans. You can watch it live on our Facebook page and you can access all the data from the reopening surveys by clicking here. If you can't make it tonight, don't worry! I'll provide a summary in tomorrow's RPS Direct. I also want to take the opportunity this evening to acknowledge an Instagram account – BlackAtRPS – where Black staff members have shared their experiences with racism as employees of RPS. I take these accounts extremely seriously. To all who posted, thank you for courageously sharing your stories. RPS – like the rest of America – is not immune to the 400 years of racism that preceded George Floyd's murder. Those four centuries infect us all. Click above to read more!

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  • RPS Direct Update - June 25, 2020

    Dear #RPSStrong Family, Our graduation ceremonies continued today with in-person celebrations at Franklin Military Academy, Thomas Jefferson, and Huguenot. I was able to swing by all three and they were simply amazing! Enormous gratitude to our high school teams – administrators, counselors, teachers, custodians, front office staff, and so many others – for making these beautiful ceremonies possible. To get a taste of what they've pulled off amidst a global pandemic, please take 30 seconds to watch the video below from TJ. Click above to read more.

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  • RPS Direct Update - June 24, 2020

    Si aún no lo ha hecho, tómese unos minutos para completar nuestra encuesta de reapertura. Tenemos uno para familias, tanto en español como en inglés, y uno para el personal escolar. Gracias a la Coordinadora de CIS (y madre de RPS), Amanda Ketterlinus, por crear un video en español para explicar cómo completar la encuesta.

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  • RPS Direct Update - June 23, 2020

    Dear #RPSStrong Family, It's graduation week for the RPS Class of 2020! Virtual commencement ceremonies started yesterday with Amelia Street, Armstrong, Community, George Wythe, and John Marshall. The rest of the virtual ceremonies are tomorrow (see below for times and links). If you haven't tuned in yet, I encourage you to do so! Richmond Career Education & Employment Academy, 12:00 pm

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  • RPS Direct Update - June 22, 2020

    Dear #RPSStrong Family, I hadn't planned on sending an RPS Direct today, as we're off in observance of Juneteenth. But we learned today that an RPS employee who works at our Vatex site on Hermitage Avenue has tested positive for COVID-19. The employee was asymptomatic at the time and is currently in isolation at home, per CDC guidelines. For health privacy reasons, we cannot release the name of the staff member, but please keep this individual and their family in your thoughts and prayers. At the direction of the Richmond City Health Department, we encourage anyone who works at, or recently visited, Vatex to self-isolate for 14 days and to reach out to their primary care provider if they experience any symptoms. Please note that free testing is available from the Richmond City Health District; to register, call 804-205-3501. Thank you for your continued support of our efforts to keep our students, families, staff, and volunteers safe and healthy at all times.

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  • RPS Direct Update - June 19, 2020

    Dear #RPSStrong Family, In honor of Juneteenth and the ongoing struggle for true independence and freedom for all, please join me in celebrating a group of African-American students who helped advance the cause of justice here in Richmond 60 years ago: the Richmond 34. These young women and men, mostly from Virginia Union University, courageously protested segregation by attempting to eat at the whites-only lunch counter of Thalhimers Department Store. They were insulted, harassed, and intimidated. But they were undeterred. Eventually, they were all arrested, convicted, and fined. This sit-in, along with many others, helped galvanize support for the Civil Rights Act of 1964. To learn more, please take a few minutes to watch the video below, which features a first-hand account from one of the Richmond 34, Elizabeth Johnson Rice.

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  • RPS Direct Update - June 18, 2020

    Dear #RPSStrong Family, I want to express my profound gratitude to Asia Goode, Aissatou Barry, Janine Bell, Ma’asehyahu Isra-UI, and Danah Dargon for a wonderful Juneteenth celebration on RPS Live! last night. If you missed it, I encourage you to check it out here. And please see below for a poem and reflection shared by Aissatou during the broadcast. I also want to remind everyone that we'll be closed on Monday in observance of Juneteenth. As I shared yesterday, we'll be off on Monday, as RPS is already closed on Fridays during the summer. Please note that we will still have food distribution on Monday (and all Fridays throughout the summer).

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  • RPS Direct Update - June 17, 2020

    Dear #RPSStrong Family, Don't miss RPS Live! this evening for a discussion and celebration of Juneteenth. I'll be joined by student co-host Asia Goode, as well as Janine Bell, President of the Elegba Folklore Society, and Ma’asehyahu Isra-UI, RPS Instructional Specialist for History and Social Sciences. "See" you at 7 pm on our Facebook page! I also want to announce that we'll be closed on Monday in observance of Juneteenth. Why Monday and not Friday? Because RPS is already closed on Fridays during the summer (staff work extended hours M-Th). Thus, declaring Friday "off" doesn't provide any additional benefit to our employees, who will have already worked their full tour of duty for the week. To rectify that, we're closing on Monday. Please note that we will still have food distribution on Monday (and all Fridays throughout the summer).

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  • RPS Direct Update - June 16, 2020

    Dear #RPSStrong Family, I'm thrilled to share that I'll have a student co-host – Asia Goode – for tomorrow's edition of RPS Live! We'll be discussing Juneteenth with a number of special guests, including Janine Bell, President of the Elegba Folklore Society, and Ma’asehyahu Isra-UI, RPS Instructional Specialist for History and Social Sciences. Please tune in at 7 pm on our Facebook page. Thank you!

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  • RPS Direct Update - June 15, 2020

    Dear #RPSStrong Family, At this evening's School Board meeting (starting at 5:30 pm), we'll be discussing a number of very important matters, including the beginnings of a racial justice policy agenda. One idea that I'm eager to add to this agenda comes from Jazz Miles, a rising sophomore at Richmond Community. He's proposing a "student-led coalition that will address and look for solutions to racial disparities within the school system and community." I enthusiastically support this and look forward to supporting Jazz in any way we can. I've often found that the very best solutions in education come from simply listening to our students. I can't wait to hear what Jazz and his peers have to say on this critical subject. I also want to draw everyone's attention to two feedback surveys about reopening in the fall: one for families, in both English and Spanish, and one for school-based staff. If you haven't already done so, please take a few minutes to complete the survey that applies to you. All responses will be anonymous and all data will be publicly shared. Thank you in advance for taking the time to provide your invaluable feedback. With great appreciation, Jason

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  • RPS Direct Update - June 12, 2020

    Dear #RPSStrong Family, Happy last day of (virtual) school! The last three months have undoubtedly been some of the most challenging RPS has ever faced. We have all been taxed physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. But we remain #RPSStrong. I have never been prouder of RPS than I am today. Our teachers, administrators, and support staff – in close partnership with our families, community partners, and volunteers – have stepped up in ways we'll never forget. They've provided close to 1 million (!) meals, distributed over 13,000 Chromebooks and over 5,000 hotspots, created a virtual learning platform (RPS@Home) for our 25,000 students that has attracted users from well outside of Richmond, taught thousands of Zoom and Google Classroom lessons, made countless phone calls to check on students, led dozens of car parades, organized both in-person and virtual graduations for all of our seniors, shared more than 1,150 shout-outs, and so much more. Click above to read more!

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  • RPS Direct Update - June 11, 2020

    Dear #RPSStrong Family, I want to express my profound gratitude to Taikein Cooper, Executive Director of Virginia Excels, for joining me last night to continue to process the events of the last two weeks, and discuss ways RPS can become a more actively anti-racist school division. To watch, just click here! With great appreciation, Jason

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  • RPS Direct Update - June 10, 2020

    Dear #RPSStrong Family, A number of you asked that I re-share the school reopening guidance that came out yesterday from the Governor's Office and the Virginia Department of Education. The 8-page version is here and the 135-page version is here. After reviewing everything, here's my initial assessment of what the guidance means for RPS: We're very likely to have an in-person opening, albeit with staggered schedules that allow for social distancing. There are many different ways we could do this. For example, we could have half of our students come in the morning and the other half in the afternoon. We could also have students come on alternating days or weeks. These are just a couple of examples; there are many more. In our reopening survey – coming out on Friday – we'll ask for your thoughts about these options to help guide our decision-making. We'll also be guided by our Reopening Task Force, composed of more than 40 parents, students, teachers, support staff, and community partners. Click above to read more!

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  • RPS Direct Update - June 9, 2020 (PM)

    Dear #RPSStrong Family, My apologies for pinging your inbox twice this evening. Under separate cover, I wanted to alert you that we learned today that an RPS employee who was present at G. H. Reid Elementary School on Thursday, June 4, has tested positive for COVID-19. The employee was asymptomatic at the time and is currently in isolation at home, per CDC guidelines. For health privacy reasons, we cannot release the name of the staff member, but please keep this individual and their family in your thoughts and prayers. Click above to read more!

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  • RPS Direct Update - June 9, 2020

    Dear #RPSStrong Family, As you have likely seen from media alerts, the Governor released guidance this afternoon about the reopening of schools in the Commonwealth. In short, it lays out three phases that gradually move us from virtual to in-person instruction. Justin Mattingly from the RTD has a great summary here. You can also find the Governor's 8-page version of the guidance here and the VDOE's 135-page version (!) here. I'd like to take this opportunity to publicly thank Dr. Lane for his leadership of this work, as well as our very own National Teacher of the Year, Mr. Rodney Robinson, for serving on the reopening task force. His commitment to equity is evident throughout the documents. Click above to read more!

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  • RPS Direct Update - June 8, 2020

    Dear #RPSStrong Family, I'd like to begin by thanking everyone – teachers, support staff, families, community members, and most of all, students – who have made their voices heard in support of the Black Lives Matter movement over the past week. At RPS, we will always support those who speak out against injustice – in fact, we strongly encourage it. As Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel wrote: “We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference." As educators, we have a special obligation to speak up, actively fight racism, and amplify the voices of those who have been silenced for far too long. Click above to read more!

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