UPDATE: FEBRUARY 27, 2022
On Feb. 25. 2022, the federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC) announced significant changes in its COVID-19 orders and mitigation strategies that affect K-12 schools. These changes include revised metrics and strategies that communities, school districts, and families should consider when making decisions about health and safety related to COVID. More information can be found on the CDC website: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/index.html.
After careful review of the announcements from CDC, Roanoke County Public Schools will make further adjustments in previous mask requirements. These changes align with the CDC revisions and will go into effect on Monday, February 28.
Beginning Monday, masks will be optional for students. This is a change from the previous policy requiring masks while indoors, but allowing parents to opt-out their child from the requirement. The change to a “mask optional” approach means that students are welcome to continue wearing a mask if they choose to do so, but there will no longer be a school requirement beginning Monday and parents will no longer need to notify schools of their choice.
We want to thank students and parents for the smooth transition our students have made over the past two weeks when the “opt-out” approach began, and we anticipate that students will continue to adjust well to the new “mask optional” approach.
Beginning Monday, masks will also be optional on school buses. This change aligns with the CDC announcement made late Friday removing school buses from its transportation mask order: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/face-masks-public-transportation.html
Beginning Monday, masks will also be optional for employees. This change reflects (1) the CDC’s new metrics that changes the COVID category for Roanoke County from “high” to “medium”, and (2) actions taken by the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry to eliminate their requirement in March. Employees who choose to wear masks are welcome to do so.
We appreciate the ways everyone has patiently worked together in the interest of student and staff safety over the past months. We celebrate continued downward trends in COVID cases in our community and schools and welcome these timely revisions in CDC metrics and strategies. We will continue to monitor any additional changes in guidance from CDC and Virginia Department of Health and adjust accordingly, as we shift gears and keep moving forward for student learning and wellbeing in Roanoke County.
UPDATE: FEBRUARY 4, 2022
The Roanoke County School Board has decided, beginning Feb. 14, that parents may elect to opt-out their students from the requirement to wear masks while in school.
Please be reminded that masks are still required by federal regulation on all school buses. Students who return from a 5-day isolation or quarantine period will be required to wear a mask for days 6-10, including during recess, athletics and/or extracurricular activities.
Schools have sent an email directly to parents with a link to an opt-out form. This form only needs to be completed by parents wishing to opt-out their child from the requirement to wear a mask while in school. Please complete a separate form for each child.
We also remind parents to review the daily health checklist before sending their children to school and we strongly urge parents to keep children home if they are showing any COVID-19 symptoms
We also want to update you on some changes to contact tracing in our schools. The Va. Department of Health has revised their contact tracing guidance. We will no longer be contract tracing every positive case and will, instead, be focusing on potential outbreaks and cases in high-risk settings. We will continue to report all positive cases on our COVID-19 Dashboard. Isolation and quarantine guidelines have not changed, and we remind parents that those students who are up-to-date with COVID-19 vaccinations do not need to quarantine if they are considered a close contact with someone with COVID-19 and remain asymptomatic. For more information, please see our Return to School Health Plan.
UPDATE: JANUARY 6, 2022
Roanoke County Public Schools is currently adapting the new CDC/VDH Guidance regarding Covid-19 for isolation and quarantine. This guidance allows for students and staff to return to school/work earlier if exposed to someone positive for Covid-19 under certain circumstances. However, vaccination status is an important part of the guidance and has changed from previous guidance. A person is not required to quarantine if they have been fully vaccinated. To be considered fully vaccinated under this new guidance, a student or staff member will need to have the booster vaccine if it has been longer than 6 months since the second dose of Pfizer or Moderna Covid-19 vaccine or two months since the J & J Covid-19 vaccine and if the student or staff member qualifies for the Covid-19 booster vaccine. (Currently people age 12 and up qualify for the booster) Student's/staff who do not meet these criteria will need to quarantine if considered an exposure. Please contact your school nurse with any questions.
UPDATE: OCTOBER 6, 2021
Dear Roanoke County Parents and Families:
As we approach the end of the first nine weeks of the 2021-2022 school year, we want to let you know how good it has been to have nearly all of our 13,240 students back in school full time. Every day as we visit and check in with schools, it is encouraging to see and talk to students who are happy to be in school and look forward to seeing their teachers, other staff members, and friends. Teachers have also expressed how glad they are to see their students every day and be able to work with them. Overall, it has been a great start to the school year and our students are learning!
There are, of course, still ongoing extraordinary challenges that our schools and families face. We want to express our gratitude to you as parents and families for supporting your child’s education and for working with our teachers and schools this year with COVID mitigation strategies still in place. Individual students need help with unfinished learning from last year, social-emotional needs, and adjusting to daily peer interactions and life within the school community. We have experienced the anticipated frequent student and staff quarantines that come with closer proximity, and the resulting impact on families and staff navigating those procedures, shifting to online learning, and returning to class. None of this has been easy, but all the efforts help our students to move forward and be in school as much as possible. Our teachers, counselors, therapists, principals, and other staff are here to support all our students and will continue to work hard.
CHANGES TO THE SCHOOL CALENDAR
The labor shortage that has affected businesses and school systems nationwide has affected our school system as well, especially with substitute teachers and other hourly positions. Our schools have done a good job of covering with existing staff, but the ripple effect has been to take away time that teachers need for planning, parent contacts, and working with individual students. Increased physical distancing during lunches has also reduced unencumbered time that teachers would otherwise have for these other needs. These demands on time have been amplified by the number of quarantines required. In order to provide some additional time for our teachers need to be effective, some changes have been made to the school calendar and were approved last evening. Additional early-dismissal days have been added rather than additional full workdays in order to reduce the impact on families and after-school programs.
Please take note of the following changes and thank you for your understanding.
- October 15: schools closed for previously scheduled workday for the end of the grading period
- October 20: previously scheduled early dismissal for professional development (now 2-hours early rather than three to reduce confusion)
- October 27: 2-hour early dismissal (added)
- November 2: previously scheduled non-student day
- November 10: 2-hour early dismissal (added)
- November 17: 2-hour early dismissal (added)
- November 24-26: schools closed for Thanksgiving holiday (Nov. 24 was previously scheduled as an early dismissal day)
- December 1: 2-hour early dismissal (added)
- December 8: 2-hour early dismissal (added)
INCREASE IN SUBSTITUTE PAY
Several strategies have been implemented to address the ongoing shortage of substitute teachers. These strategies include hiring a designated daily substitute teacher for each school and assigning central office staff to substitute when there are critical needs. An additional strategy approved last evening was to increase the pay for substitutes. Effective immediately, the daily pay rate for substitute teachers is $140 (with college degree) and $125 (with high school diploma). We welcome qualified applicants to join our group of substitute teachers! More information on how to apply is at on the Human Resources page.
We encourage to schedule a conference with your child’s teacher to discuss any concerns that you may have or to just touch base on your child’s progress. Conferences may be scheduled by phone, Webex, or in person throughout the year. Please contact your child’s teacher directly to schedule.
Thank you for your support and the privilege of working with your children. We are proud of our schools, our students, and our community.
Dr. Ken Nicely
Roanoke County Public Schools
7:45 a.m. - 2:25 p.m.
8:20 a.m. - 3:25 p.m.
8:20 a.m. - 3:25 p.m.