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Return to School 2021 FAQ

Q:  When will schools open?  

A:  Schools will open for students on Monday, August 16.  Staff will return to work on Monday, August 9. 


Q: Who can come to school?

A: All students can come to school everyday, Monday through Friday.  


Q: Will students and staff be required to wear masks?

A:  During times of Substantial and High Transmission, students and staff will be required to wear masks during the school day in the building, as developmentally appropriate.  It is up to division staff to determine what is developmentally appropriate for students.  


Students and staff will not have to wear masks outdoors, during meal times, and will have mask breaks during the school day, when appropriate, as determined by school staff. 


Q: What will health screenings look like for students and staff?

A: Staff members and students will have their temperatures taken at building entrances with infrared face scanners.  Any person with a fever will be sent home with a parent/guardian.  Students arriving on buses will be quarantined in the nurse's office until they can be picked up.


Q: What social distancing measures will be in place?

A: Students and staff will need to be 3 to 6 feet apart during the school day and on the buses.  If three feet cannot be maintained in the classroom, staff and students (as developmentally appropriate) will need to wear masks.  


Indoor communal spaces may be used during times of Substantial and High transmission; however social distancing and masks will be required. 


Q: How will our students eat if they cannot use the cafeteria?

A: Students will pick up breakfast as they enter the school building and eat in the classrooms, as they have in the past. 


Students in K-4 will eat in classrooms; students in 5-7 will eat in the two cafeterias at RCEM to maximize social distancing; students in 8-12 will eat in classrooms.  


Q: Will students have to wear masks on buses?

A: Yes.  There is still a federal requirement for masks to be worn on public transportation, which includes school buses.  

Q: What about athletics?

A:  Athletics will continue as they did in the 2020-2021 school year.  Teams will adhere to the mitigation plans developed and submitted to the athletic director and assistant superintendent. 


Q: What about classes like PE, Band, Chorus, JROTC and others like this? 

A: RCPS will offer these courses, following VDOE and VDH guidance to ensure student safety. 


Q: What type of schedule will RHS have next year?

A:  While we were planning on operating a 4x4 schedule during the 21-22 school year, we will not be making that change at this time.  RHS will run an A/B block schedule, which will help ensure content is covered in all 8 courses throughout the  year. 


Q: How often will COVID policies and procedures be re-assessed?

A: RCPS will assess the level of community disease transmission provided by the VDH through the School Metrics tab as it is updated, weekly.  Any changes to less restrictive policies and procedures will be made at 9 week intervals.  


Q: How will classrooms and buses be sanitized?

A: Periodically classrooms and buses will be sanitized using special equipment that ionizes a CDC-approved chemical to destroy viruses on surfaces. 


All classrooms will have access to sanitizing spray and wipes and hand sanitizer will also be available in each classroom. Students will wipe down their workstations before changing classes or leaving for the day.


Q: What happens if a student or staff member is diagnosed with COVID19?

A: The student or staff member will be sent home, if at school, and contact tracing will be conducted by the VDH to determine if others may be considered close contacts and should quarantine.  


Q: Have there been changes to the definition of a close contact for students?

A: Yes.  The VDH and VDOE have made an exception to the definition of close contact.  The definition reads: “In indoor K-12 settings, a student who is within 3 to 6 feet of an infected student is not considered a close contact as long as both students are wearing masks and the school has other prevention strategies in place. This exception does not apply to teachers, staff, or other adults in indoor K-12 settings.”  


This change should result in less required quarantining for students. 

Additional questions can be submitted at