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Phase 2 Transition Letter to Families 9-23-20

September 23, 2020

Dear Ritenour Staff and Families,

As we have mentioned in previous communications, our intention is to transition to Phase 2 of our Return to Learning Plan that offers families a hybrid option that combines in-person and virtual learning. This option begins soon! Please read this entire letter carefully for details.

At a special meeting last night (Sept. 22), the Ritenour Board of Education approved our plan to have students in grades K-3 return to hybrid in-person learning in our schools. Our preschool students at the Ritenour School for Early Childhood Education will return in person with no virtual learning option. The decision highlights the following:

  • Elementary school families will have the option of sending their Kindergarten-Grade 3 children to school for two days a week in person, with three days virtual; or keeping their children in full virtual learning through the Ritenour Virtual Academy.
  • K-3 students will be phased back into their buildings beginning Oct. 7 starting with only kindergartners. Beginning Monday, Oct. 12, we will welcome back our students in grades 1-3 for families who want in-person hybrid learning.
  • Students at our Ritenour School for Early Childhood Education will move to Phase 1 – full-time in-person learning - beginning Oct. 7. Virtual learning no longer will be available after Oct. 6. More information will be available soon on the Early Childhood website
  • Students in Grades 4-12 will continue at this time in Phase 3 of full virtual learning.

Recommendations were made based on discussions from our Phase 2 committee of parents, teachers, support staff and administrators and the most recent COVID-19 transmission information from the St. Louis County and Missouri departments of public health, which indicates it is safe to move to Phase 2 for PreK-3 students. The board also weighed the scores of messages it received from families and staff members.

To see how Ritenour is preparing for a safe return of its students and staff, watch this short video.

Key Features of the Hybrid Option:

K-3 families who choose the Hybrid Option will be assigned to two groups based on the last name of the primary parent/guardian listed in the Parent Portal. Siblings/children in the same household will be kept in the same group.

Group A: Parent/Guardian Last Name A-K

  • In-Person class at their assigned school on Mondays and Wednesdays.
  • Students will work on their own at home with online assignments on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Their in-person classroom teachers will not be available on these days since they are providing in-person instruction to the other group of students.
  • Fridays will be a full virtual day with live instruction with their assigned in-person teachers.

Group B:  Parent/Guardian Last Name L-Z

  • In-Person class at their assigned school on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
  • Students will work on their own at home with online assignments on Mondays and Wednesdays. Their in-person classroom teachers will not be available on these days since they are providing in-person instruction to the other group of students.
  • Fridays will be a full virtual day with live instruction with their assigned in-person teachers.

Families of K-3 students who did not commit in July to the Ritenour Virtual Academy (RVA) for full virtual learning can choose this option by completing the eForm through the Parent Portal no later than Friday, Sept. 25.  The commitment will stand through the end of first semester (Jan. 14, 2021).  For more information, please contact your child’s school office or email virtualacademyk8@ritenourschools.org

It is important to know that students in elementary school who select RVA will have a different certified Ritenour classroom teacher when Phase 2 begins. Virtual learning will not be available for preschoolers at the Ritenour School for Early Childhood Education (RSECE).

The transition to Phase 2 for K-3 (and Phase 1 for RSECE) is as follows:

  • All PreK and Kindergarten Group A: Begins in-person learning on Wednesday, Oct. 7.
  • Kindergarten Group B: Begin in-person learning on Thursday, Oct. 8.
  • Grades 1-3 Group A: Begin in-person learning on Monday, Oct. 12.
  • Grades 1-3 Group B: Begin in-person learning on Tuesday, Oct. 13.

What this means for your family

  • For families with K-3 children who selected in-person instruction, this means:
    • Students (K-3) whose parent/guardian’s last name begins A-K will attend in-person classes at their elementary schools on Mondays and Wednesdays.
    • Students (K-3) whose parent/guardian’s last name begins L-Z attend in-person classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
    • Siblings/children in the same household will have the same schedule.
    • All K-3 students participate in virtual instruction on Fridays. 
    • Transportation will be provided but families are encouraged to drive their children, if possible. More information will be shared separately on bus routes and safety protocols for impacted families.
    • Meals will be provided at school on the days students are in the building. On the days where they are learning virtually, meals will be delivered by bus.  If you have questions about your assigned stop, please contact our transportation department at (314) 493-6327.
    • Students’ temperature will be checked at school each day at arrival.
    • Early childhood students will receive a separate communication from RSECE regarding the structure of their in-person classes and enrollment.
  • For families with K-3 children who selected the Ritenour Virtual Academy:
    • Students continue to participate in 100 percent virtual instruction through the end of the first semester (Jan. 14, 2021).

What Ritenour Needs Families to Do:

Ritenour has been working for months on health and safety precautions to prepare for the return of students to in-person learning. You can review these precautions on the Ritenour Return to Learning Website. For families of students returning to in-person learning in October, we need your help with the following:

  1. All students ages 3 and older must wear a mask while on the bus and at school, per the county health department’s mandate. Mask breaks will be allowed when appropriate and it is safe to do so. Please have at least 3-5 cloth masks for your child and have him/her practice wearing them at home for long periods of time.
  2. All families must review the COVID-19 symptom list each day. If your child exhibits any of the following symptoms, please keep them home and notify your child’s school office: Fever of 100 or more/chills; cough; shortness of breath or difficulty breathing; fatigue; muscle or body aches; headache; new loss of taste or smell; sore throat; congestion or runny nose; nausea or vomiting; and diarrhea. Review the CDC Self-Checker Guidelines...
  3. If your child has been tested for COVID-19 but has not received a test result yet or has been asked by their doctor or county health department to isolate or quarantine at home, please keep them home from school and contact your child’s school office.

Communication on COVID-19 cases

Ritenour will communicate with families and staff regarding positive COVID-19 cases in the district only if they are personally impacted or determined to be at risk as per CDC guidelines. Federal privacy laws protect student and staff confidentiality; personally identifiable information on any individuals testing positive or being asked to isolate or quarantine will not be shared. Families and staff can also view an overview and history of cases using the district’s COVID-19 dashboard, housed on the Ritenour Return to Learning website, prior to the return of students on Oct. 7.

As with any new situation, the virtual start to the school year has had some challenges, but it’s also had many successes. I’ve been impressed by our students, staff and families' hard work and dedication to make this possible and keep instruction engaging for our students.

We are looking forward to our first step in bringing our youngest students back into the classroom and will take every precaution to keep students and staff safe during in-person learning. As always, thank you for your patience and continued assistance as we work together to support our students and their learning.

Sincerely,

Dr. Chris Kilbride
Superintendent

Phase 2