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Ritenour to Begin 2020-21 School Year with Full-time Virtual Learning; Hybrid Learning at Later Date

July 20, 2020

Dear Ritenour Staff, Families and Community,

During the COVID-19 pandemic, our district has had to reimagine how we can provide a high quality education for all learners while maintaining safety as our top priority. 

Over the past few months, Ritenour School District leaders have been meeting frequently to create re-entry guidance for our schools based on recommended protocols that protect the health of students, school staff and the entire community while offering a rigorous academic program that also meets the social and emotional needs of our students. We also used valuable feedback and insights on multiple surveys from more than 4,000 families and staff over the last few months to guide our plans. 

We will have two options for the return to learning for the 2020-2021 school year:

1. The choice of in-person learning that reflects three phases based on the severity of community spread of COVID-19:

  • Phase 3:  Full-time virtual learning for all students in grades K-12 (Students will be learning from home; teachers and staff will be working from their Ritenour buildings.)
  • Phase 2:  Hybrid in-person learning for all students
  • Phase 1:  Full-time in-person learning for all students

2. A choice of full-time virtual learning option for the entire school year

Unfortunately, we believe the current phase of the pandemic in our area at this time will prevent us from starting the school year safely with in-person learning. 

As students return to learning on Aug. 24, our district will be starting the school year in Phase 3 - full-time virtual learning for grades K-12.  (UPDATE: The first day of school has been delayed until Aug. 31 Learn more here.) Ritenour will continue to monitor conditions to determine when the district will move to Phase 2 for hybrid in-school/virtual learning for the families who want in-person learning for their children. Please note:  It is possible that the pandemic conditions in our area could improve prior to Aug. 24 to allow for hybrid learning.  Families and staff will need to be prepared for any range of scenarios that could happen depending on the nature of the situation and the extent of community spread of COVID-19.  

We wanted to let our families and staff know about our plans to go fully virtual (Phase 3) for all students as early as possible so you can begin preparing for the first day of school on Aug. 31.  The plan is subject to change based on the status and severity of COVID-19 in our area, as well as St. Louis County health orders.

Students at every level will be held accountable for their learning. The district has committed to ensuring equitable learning resources by providing computers or devices for all students and Wi-Fi for those who need it. Technology pickup dates will be scheduled for families in August prior to the first day of online learning.  

Grab and go meals will also be available for all Ritenour students. Details will be available at a later date.  

Although we know that having students in our school buildings 100 percent of the time is the best way to meet the learning, social and emotional needs of our students, the pandemic at this time is preventing us from doing that safely at this time.  Our goal is to transition back to in- person learning for all families who choose that option as quickly and as safely as possible.  We will also continue to offer the choice of full virtual instruction for families who choose that option even when it is appropriate for all to return to in person instruction. 

We recognize that the pandemic has created unprecedented and long-term uncertainty for all of us, but know we are committed to our staff, students and families in providing the high-quality instruction and learning experiences that our students and families expect.  

For more details about our return-to-learning plans, click here. 

See return-to-learning plan in Spanish

Thank you for your ongoing patience and support.

Be well,
Chris Kilbride
Dr. Chris Kilbride
Superintendent of Schools