"RPS Direct" Emails from Supt. Kamras

  • RPS Direct Update - July 14, 2020

    Dear #RPSStrong Family, Thank you once again for all the feedback about reopening! In the last 24 hours, I've received several hundred emails, texts, and phone calls – and I truly appreciate every last one of them. If you have the time, I encourage you to tune in for tonight's School Board meeting at 6 pm on our Facebook page. To help you follow along, I've included below a few slides that summarize the five plans and provide a few high-level bullets about how we'll approach virtual instruction (since that's a key element of all the plans). Finally, I'd like to express my profound appreciation to everyone who acknowledged in their feedback the very real struggles of families and staff with whom they disagree. We have a corrosive empathy deficit in America today, but I like to think that the RPS Family is helping nudge us in the right direction, one thoughtful conversation at a time.

    Comments (-1)
    No Headlines to display
  • RPS Direct Update - July 13, 2020

    Dear #RPSStrong Family, I'd like to begin this evening by thanking the hundreds of teachers, support staff, parent/caregivers, and students who have reached out to me over the last 72 hours with feedback about school reopening. I'm grateful for your questions, your ideas, and your personal stories about how the coronavirus is affecting you and your loved ones. You still have time to share your thoughts before tomorrow night's Board meeting. Just email your public comments to speakers@rvaschools.net before 1 pm tomorrow or email me directly at jkamras@rvaschools.net. As a reminder, here are the five plans the Board will be discussing tomorrow:

    Comments (-1)
    No Headlines to display
  • RPS Direct Update - July 10, 2020

    Dear #RPSStrong Family, Happy Friday! I know I said my next RPS Direct would come on Monday, but I felt it was important to circle back about school reopening after our Board meeting last night. First off, I want thank Dr. Danny Avula, Dr. Romesh Wijesooriya, Dr. Emily Godbout, and Dr. Bergen Nelson for joining us to provide an update on what the medical community has learned about COVID-19 over the last four months. See below for screenshots of a few of the most salient slides from their presentation. As soon as we get the whole document posted to our website, I'll share the link in my RPS Direct.

    Comments (-1)
    No Headlines to display
  • RPS Direct Update - July 9, 2020

    Dear #RPSStrong Family, Please note that we have a School Board meeting this evening at 6 pm, which you can watch live on our Facebook page. The main topic tonight is our draft school reopening plans. If you can't tune in this evening – or if the discussion goes until the wee hours of the night and you don't last – don't worry! I'll make sure to provide a summary of where things are headed in my Monday RPS Direct (RPS is closed tomorrow).

    Comments (-1)
    No Headlines to display
  • RPS Direct Update - July 8, 2020

    Dear #RPSStrong Family, Please note that we have a School Board meeting tomorrow evening at 6 pm. You can watch it live on our Facebook page. As I shared yesterday, we'll be discussing two possible school reopening plans: Plan A A fully virtual option PLUS A hybrid option that includes 2 days of in-person instruction and 3 days of virtual instruction each week PLUS 5 days of in-person instruction each week for students with greater academic needs (e.g., certain students with IEPs and certain English Learners) Plan B A fully virtual option PLUS A fully in-person option Please note that the Board will not be voting on these plans tomorrow. They'll just be reviewing and discussing them.

    Comments (-1)
    No Headlines to display
  • RPS Direct Update - July 7, 2020

    Dear #RPSStrong Family, I hope you all had a restful July 4th weekend! I had the chance to do some hiking along (and in) the James River this weekend with my sons. Hands down, it was one of the best experiences we've had since moving to Richmond. To navigate the current in a particularly tricky spot, my eight-year-old grabbed my hand as the water rushed around our legs. After we both wobbled our way through, I said: "I'm not sure if I was helping you or you were helping me." To which he replied: "We were helping each other, Daddy." Indeed. Because RPS is never far from my mind, I immediately thought of the many difficult decisions we're facing about how to reopen this fall. At the end of the day, no matter what path we take, we're going to need to help each other through it.

    Comments (-1)
    No Headlines to display
  • 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!

    Comments (-1)
    No Headlines to display
  • 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!

    Comments (-1)
    No Headlines to display
  • 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!

    Comments (-1)
    No Headlines to display
  • 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!

    Comments (-1)
    No Headlines to display
  • 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!

    Comments (-1)
    No Headlines to display
  • 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.

    Comments (-1)
    No Headlines to display
  • 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.

    Comments (-1)
    No Headlines to display
  • 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

    Comments (-1)
    No Headlines to display
  • 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.

    Comments (-1)
    No Headlines to display
  • 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.

    Comments (-1)
    No Headlines to display
  • 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).

    Comments (-1)
    No Headlines to display
  • 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).

    Comments (-1)
    No Headlines to display
  • 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!

    Comments (-1)
    No Headlines to display
  • 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

    Comments (-1)
    No Headlines to display