"RPS Direct" Emails from Superintendent Kamras

  • 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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  • RPS Direct Update - November 12, 2020

    Dear #RPS Strong Family, I'm reaching out with this special RPS Direct to share that a student from J.B. Fisher Elementary School has tested positive for COVID-19. The student has 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.

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  • RPS Direct Update - November 11, (PM) 2020

    Dear #RPSStrong Family, Happy Veterans Day! To all who have served – or are currently serving – thank you for your dedication and commitment to our nation. My dad was in the Air Force for several years so I'd like to give him a special shout out tonight! Below you'll find a Veterans Day reflection from Chimborazo Principal David Peck, who served in the US Navy before become an educator. Please join me in thanking him for his service and for sharing his voice with us. Turning to COVID, a couple of you have reached out asking why we're announcing student cases when we're completely virtual. In short, we're doing so out of an abundance of transparency. Though there's no specific action to take in response to this information, we felt it was important to transparently share the full impact of the virus on the RPS family. Please keep these students and their families in your thoughts and prayers.

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  • RPS Direct Update - November 11, 2020

    Dear #RPS Strong Family, I'm reaching out with this special RPS Direct to share that two students – one from Albert Hill Middle School and one from William Fox Elementary School – have tested positive for COVID-19. 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.

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  • RPS Direct Update - November 10, 2020

    Dear #RPSStrong Family, I just wrapped up 90 minutes with my amazing Parent Advisory Council. I can't tell you how grateful I am to this dedicated group of RPS families. Their feedback, wisdom, and humor :) is invaluable! Before we ended our discussion, I asked everyone what I should highlight in RPS Direct tonight. They said it would be helpful to remind our families about the emergency childcare centers, which still have lots of open seats. So, here goes: Peter Paul Development Center is offering childcare at MLK MS for 2nd-8th grade RPS students. The full-day option goes from 9 am until 6 pm, and is completely free for low-income families. To learn more, click here. The YMCA is offering childcare at Miles Jones ES, Holton ES, and Huguenot HS for K-8th grade RPS students. The full-day option goes from 7:30 am until 6 pm, and is completely free for low-income families. To learn more, click here. There are also many other childcare centers not housed in RPS schools across the city. To learn more, click here. Shifting gears, this week is National School Psychology Awareness Week and we're thrilled to acknowledge the incredible dedication of our school psychologists.

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

    Dear #RPS Strong Family, I'm reaching out with this special RPS Direct to share that five students – four from G.H. Reid Elementary School and one from Thomas H. Henderson Middle School – have tested positive for COVID-19. The students have not been on campus this academic year. In addition, three election officials from the City of Richmond's Office of the General Registrar have tested positive. These officials were present on Election Day at the following RPS polling locations: Cardinal Elementary School, Elizabeth Redd Elementary School, George Wythe High School., G.H. Reid Elementary School, J.L. Francis Elementary School, Lucille M. Brown Middle School, Miles J. Jones Elementary School, River City Middle School, Swansboro Elementary School, and Thomas C. Boushall Middle School. We encourage anyone who was present at these locations on Election Day 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 - November 9, 2020

    Dear #RPSStrong Family, Regardless of your political persuasion, let's agree that the election of Kamala Harris as Vice-President –– the first woman, first Black American, and first Indian American to serve as the second highest official in the nation – is truly historic. To mark this moment, TJ Principal Cherita Sears wrote the following reflection. Please join me in expressing our profound gratitude to her for sharing her voice on this momentous occasion. Click above to read more!

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  • RPS Direct Update - November 6, 2020

    Dear #RPSStrong Family, Amidst all the anxiety of the current moment, here are four bits of inspiration and joy to take you into the weekend! Corey Stuckey, 12th grader at George Wythe HS, was recently featured in the Richmond Free Press for co-founding 381 Movement, a racial justice non-profit. I've had the great pleasure of getting to know Corey over the last couple of years through my High School Student Council. He's brilliant, insightful, and passionate about social justice. I look forward to casting my vote for him one day. Remember the beautiful mural at 3rd and Broad that I shared pictures of a couple of weeks ago? Well, it's now complete and the official unveiling is tonight. Kudos to Ta'Dreama McBride, 9th grader at Open HS, who helped design and create this beautiful work of art. Called "Freedom Constellations: Dreaming of a World Without Youth Prisons," it's interactive and includes an embedded video. Check it out! This past Saturday, staff members from Overby-Sheppard ES were busy picking up hand-made desks from Lowe’s for their students. The desks were designed by Mr. Charles Barker, a community partner, and made by employees at Lowe’s. Each desk can be folded up and stored when not in use, which is especially helpful for small spaces. Click above to read more!

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  • RPS Direct Update - November 5, 2020 (PM)

    Dear #RPSStrong Family, I'll be honest: I've got the TV on in my office as I write this, eagerly awaiting additional vote counts. I haven't been shy about where I stand on this election, as I believe much more than simple policy differences is at stake. What I just witnessed on TV only reaffirmed that belief. I recognize and respect that some of you reading this have a very different perspective from mine. That's democracy, and I believe it's worth fighting for despite its many imperfections. What worries me as both RPS Superintendent and as a father is what happens after this election is finally over. How will we ever repair? How will we restore faith in an objective sense of truth? How will we undo the corrosive impact of the repeated denigration of whole groups of Americans? How will we learn to co-exist, if not thrive, with people we fiercely disagree with? How will we rebuild our democratic institutions? Click above to read more!

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