Dear Spartan Family,

It’s hard to believe, but August 31, our first day of school, is only a weekend away!  We realize the changes impacting society may cause some anxiety and definitely lead to questions about school.  SHS’s goal is to communicate as proactively as possible and to be available to answer questions.  We had over 600 families attend our virtual orientation sessions this summer.  If you missed out, or would like to listen in again, a video of the session is posted on our website and can be accessed from this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IPw5Uu-OA7M.

School Hours

Our school hours have changed this year.  Our building will be open and staffed from 8:00 am – 4:00 pm. 1st period will begin at 8:35, and the day will end at 3:30.  To create an orderly and physically-distanced environment, students will not be allowed to enter the building before 8:00 am.  At 8:20 a bell will ring, and all students will be required to report to their 1st period classes.  If students arrive prior to 8:20, they will sit in designated seats in our student commons/cafeteria areas until the 8:20 bell.  Student release at the end of the day will be staggered by a few minutes by grade level to decrease the number of students in the hall moving in the same direction at one time.  All students will be required to leave the building at 3:30, and will not be allowed to stay in the building to wait for a ride home.

Morning Drop Off

Because of ongoing renovations, morning drop off will differ this year.  Parents dropping off students – and students parking in student parking lots – will only enter from the main gates on Spartan Drive.  The back gate on Goodwin Ave will only be available for buses.  Building construction prevents vehicles entering through the back gate from turning right to drop students off in front of the school.  The only way to access the front of the school to drop off your child is from Spartan Drive.  Also, buses will be entering from Goodwin Ave between 8:00 and 8:30 and dropping students off at the side of the building to enter from our loading dock. If cars try to do the same thing, it will create a very unsafe situation. (Afternoon pick up will remain unchanged.  Parents may continue to pick up students in the Spartan Field parking lot.)

We realize parents’ number one concern is the safety of their children.  Safety is our number one priority, as well.  Our plans and procedures will be evaluated throughout the year and adjusted accordingly based on the latest information from organizations such as the Virginia Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control.  Our Return to Learn Plan will allow us to become more or less restrictive, depending on local conditions and guidance from these agencies.  

Hybrid Student Attendance Pattern

For the first 2 weeks of school, Hybrid students will attend in-person classes once per week depending on whether they are A, B, C, or D Day students.  On days they are not attending in person, Hybrid students will access their courses online just as fully Online students do everyday.  The schedule for the first 2 weeks is as follows:

  • Monday 8/31 – A Day
  • Tuesday 9/1 – B Day
  • Wednesday 9/2 – C Day
  • Thursday 9/3 – D Day
  • Friday 9/4 – No School/Holiday
  • Monday 9/7 – No School/Holiday
  • Tuesday 9/8 – A Day
  • Wednesday 9/9 – B Day
  • Thursday 9/10 – C Day
  • Friday 9/11 – D Day

Please note: August 31 is the first day of school for ALL students.  Hybrid A Day students should attend in person.  All other students – both Hybrid and Online – should log into Canvas, access their classrooms, and follow any and all teacher instructions.  

Canvas

All students will access all course materials, learning activities, and assignments through Canvas, our new Learning Management System.  Our hope is that by having all teachers use the same system, navigating courses will be much simpler for students than it was this past spring.  Similarly, parents should be better able to assist their children.

Canvas courses will be available beginning August 31. Canvas can be accessed by logging into a student Chromebook, opening a Chrome browser, and then clicking the home button in the upper left.  A video showing how students log into Canvas can be found at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LNDqVzg-qTo&feature=youtu.be.

To login to Canvas from a non-SCS computer, students or parents can go to the following link: https://salemva.instructure.com/   Parents will receive instructions for accessing a parent account in Canvas once the course begins.

Asynchronous Learning

It is important to understand that we will be employing an asynchronous learning model this year.  Most of us are used to synchronous learning, where an entire class meets together with a teacher at the same specific time.  However, other than when Hybrid students come to SHS in person, all learning will be asynchronous this year.

What this means is that students will work at their own pace at the time of their choosing.  Students will not be required to check in at specific times or to attend online Zoom meetings.  Some students will work more in the evenings and some during traditional school hours.  Some might choose to do all their work on certain days only.  We realize many of our students will have additional responsibilities outside of school this year, from babysitting siblings to working jobs, and we want to provide a model that allows for the greatest possible flexibility.

In Canvas, teachers are providing weekly schedules to enable students to pace themselves appropriately.  Teachers will be available, especially on Wednesdays, to arrange individual or group virtual meetings, but it is important for all to understand that our courses are designed to be accessed independently and asynchronously by all students, both Hybrid and Online.

Masks/Face Coverings

Other than while eating, students will be required to wear appropriate masks or face coverings at all times when physical distancing is not possible.  Given the nature of a classroom or a school, we doubt there will be very many times that masks are permitted to be removed. Based on the guidance we have received from health experts, it is our feeling that this safety measure, coupled with physical distancing, will enable SHS to be as safe an environment as possible.  If students choose to not comply with this requirement, they will be moved to the fully online learning option.  Wearing appropriate face coverings, and wearing them properly, is the best way we can be kind to one another and keep each other safe .

Fees

A list of school fees was mailed home previously.  If any of these fees need to be paid, students can bring the completed fee form and payment with them to school when they attend in person.  First period teachers will collect those fees.  While students who drive to school need a parking pass, they do not need to have paid for one before the first day of school in order to park on their first day.

Navigating the Building

We realize the combination of COVID-19 and construction prevented us from providing new students and freshmen with an adequate physical orientation to the layout of our building.  Each day during the first week of school there will be adults stationed throughout the building, each with a list of that day’s students and their homeroom numbers.  If a student needs to know where to go, he or she should ask any of those adults for directions to first period.  In first period, students will be given an updated paper copy of their schedule.  Furthermore, first period teachers will make sure students know how to find their second period classes.  Second period teachers will make sure students can find their third period classes, and so on throughout the day.

Safety Plans

Beyond how we schedule students and classes, we have taken the following additional measures to create a safe environment:

  • Health screening questions have been sent  home for families.  It is imperative that all families take these health screenings very seriously and that any individuals with symptoms stay home and access coursework remotely.
  • All 1st period teachers will lead students through a review of health screening questions each day.
  • If students are sick at school or display symptoms, SHS will defer to the Virginia Department of Health’s protocols, procedures, and guidance.
  • Students are expected to maturely maintain physical distancing between classes, when walking in the hallways, and when walking to and from the parking lot.  
  • Water fountains will be “bagged” to make them inaccessible.  Bottle fillers will still be accessible.
  • Our eHall Pass system will limit the number of students allowed in a restroom at any one time.
  • In student restrooms, every other sink and every other urinal will be “bagged” to make them inaccessible.
  • Students will not be allowed to ride a different bus home in the afternoon.
  • Hand sanitizer will be available in every classroom and additional hand sanitizer orders will be placed weekly.  
  • Lunch is not listed in student schedules.  4th period teachers will escort students to the cafeteria to pick up their lunches. Students will then eat in a physically-distanced setting in their 4th period class. 

Our faculty loves the young people of Salem and remains committed to providing them with both a safe and a meaningful school year.  Despite all the differences, we are truly looking forward to loving, engaging, and inspiring your young person this school year.

You are loved and appreciated,

Scott Habeeb

Principal