With the information on the rapidly evolving news surrounding the 2019 Novel Coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, Rowan-Salisbury Schools is ahead of the game in preparations. The innovative work that the district has implemented through the years has placed the district in a position to be prepared for emergency situations if and/or when they occur.
We continue to closely monitor the situation and follow the direction of our local and state departments of health and human services and the governor’s office regarding the coronavirus.
Rowan-Salisbury Schools has embraced the global concept that education is changing and changing quickly in the many different platforms in how children learn and in how instruction is delivered. We are fortunate to live in a community where in 2014 both the Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education and the Rowan County Board of Commissioners approved the district moving forward in offering one-to-one technology devices to all our children. From the very beginning technology was introduced as a valuable learning tool that allows students immediate access to the most current information available to them. This elevated our students to be true global learners. Children in Grades 3-12 take their devices home while the devices for students in grades K-2 remain at school. Rowan-Salisbury was one of just a few districts to embrace the 1:1 devices for each child.
Technology allowed the district to think differently about student learning. With the implementation of eLearning days, students could continue learning at home on inclement weather days whether or not they have access to home internet connectivity. Our forward-thinking curriculum and instruction team prepared framework for students, staff and families to follow in the ‘learning from home’ format.
With the emergence of the coronavirus pandemic, our technology advancements have provided us with quick access to gathering data on individualizing each student’s and staff’s home access to the availability of internet in their homes and assuring that each child has a device to take home in grades 3-12 and that we can individualize learning when needed. Technology staff is working on developing creative ways and tools for students to access internet when they are not in school. With the support or strong partnerships and community supporters, staff is exploring off-campus connectivity options through various different means such as hotspots and even the option to open up WiFi at school facilities during specific times during the day. We are fortunate to have a grant that can provide internet hotspots for all of our 9-12 students who do not have access to internet in their homes. The WiFi accessibility at schools will allow families to travel to schools, remain in their vehicles and connect to the internet. We are still exploring other tools to continue to support remote learning for our children.
eLearning Days for Grades 3-12
With Rowan-Salisbury implementing eLearning Days for the past two years, we are ready to provide quality and meaningful virtual learning opportunities for all our students in the event of an extended absence.
The curriculum team designed learning frameworks and suggested learning opportunities for teachers and students in the event of an extended absence. The framework supports teachers in their preparation and planning for a potential eLearning experience. Included in this framework are learning opportunities specifically designed for our special needs students (EC-Exceptional Children) and our EL-English Language Learners.
eLearning Days for Grades K-2
Literacy continues to be our learning focus. With our emphasis in reading, our younger learners in grades K-2 are provided additional take home reading materials and packets with activity assignments. This allows families to work one on one with their children to improve their reading and math skills. As a part of the preparation, schools are encouraged to send home packets of books and other essential learning materials.
Principals will introduce the framework and work with teachers on the March 13th workday for staff to begin the process of planning for an E-Learning. Teachers will explain and review expectations with students as done previously on eLearning Days.
Information will also be provided to parents in regard to eLearning.
Work from Home
For the past two years, RSS staff have been provided options on how to account for their time during inclement weather or when other emergency situations occur. Because many of our staff have individual devices, they have the capability to continue working from home following a set of guidelines.
The options available to staff should schools be closed are to:
- Take Leave
- Make up Work
- Work from Home
*Should schools be closed, we will follow up with additional guidelines.
Regarding staff who may not have devices, professional development opportunities and other options are being planned and discussed. Many of these staff members are in school nutrition and transportation departments and can assist with meal plans for children should schools be closed.
School Nutrition & Transportation
With district-wide poverty of 60 percent, it is extremely important to us that we can offer meals to our students, should we experience a school closure. We worked collaboratively with our regional consultants at NCDPI and USDA and received the necessary waivers, etc. to operate as we do during the summer months.
School Nutrition and RSS Transportation departments are ready to partner together to possibly deliver meals to the students along the normal day to day bus routes. We are actively getting menus together and working with vendors to ensure that we will be able to receive the necessary items to prepare meals in the event that we have a closure for several days.
The district may look to school staff and school volunteers to assist with meal distributions if needed.
RSS has a plan in place for cleaning schools and buildings. We have the necessary products and a staff emergency response team to do the work that needs to be accomplished. Right now we are looking at weekends and overnight cleaning, but this can be adjusted as needed.
Community Use of Building
We have suspended use of our buildings to outside community groups and organizations. We will work with our partners who have contracts to issue credits or process refunds as quickly as possible.
To the greatest extent possible, Rowan Salisbury Schools is restricting visitor and volunteer access to schools to parents or guardians only.
Parents or guardians should visit their students in the nurse’s office, or in the front office only.
All parents or guardians who travel to and from a CDC Level 3 country, which currently includes China, South Korea, Iran, Italy and most of Europe, are asked to notify schools and their healthcare providers, and not enter schools sites. We are also moving district- and school-based meetings to conference call or online formats to the maximum extent possible.
The decision to cancel out of county field trips was made as a safety precaution in being proactive with reducing the risk of exposure to the coronavirus. We are working through many questions, concerns, and scenarios that families have regarding the total impact of cancelling out of county field trips.
RSS is following the NC High School Athletic Association decision to postpone the 2020 Men’s and Women’s Basketball State Championships indefinitely, and also suspending all athletics beginning at 11:59 pm Friday, March 13th through April 6th. This includes workouts and practices.
This also includes middle and high schools.
We understand that this is a difficult situation and that rumors are floating around on social media. We want to be sure that folks are receiving accurate information.
We follow the lead of our local and state health department officials in making any calls regarding school closings because of the coronavirus. Superintendent Dr. Lynn Moody is meeting regularly with her emergency response team to make preparations for different scenarios, and there are regular meetings being held with our health department officials, so we stay updated on the latest news and developments. We are prepared to do what is needed to promote the health and safety of our families and communities. We will update parents anytime we have important new information to provide.
Report card distribution will be postponed. This will give teachers the opportunity to plan for any future school closure.
RSS Coronavirus Webpage
We have created a webpage for our parents and community that provides links to CDC, DHHS, in addition to updates, videos and parent tips on speaking with children. www.rssed.org/coronavirus
Safety comes first in doing what is best for the well-being of our students, staff and families.
Dr. Lynn Moody