Dear Spartan Family,
August 31, our first day of school, is approaching quickly, which means a new school year is almost upon us! We realize the changes impacting our society may cause some anxiety and definitely lead to questions about school. With that in mind, SHS’s goal is to communicate as proactively as possible and to be available to answer questions. This message represents the first of many attempts to communicate information about the 20-21 school year with our students and families. While we hope it is helpful and informative, please feel free to ask any questions you have after reading this information.
Virtual Returning Student Orientation
To orient returning students and their families we have scheduled a series of Virtual Returning Student Orientation Meetings via Zoom for families of returning rising 10th, 11th, and 12th grade students. We ask that only returning rising 10th, 11th, and 12th grade students and their families attend these sessions. These sessions will be offered on the following dates and times:
- Tues, Aug 11 at 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
- Wed, Aug 12 at 9:00 am – 10:00 am
- Mon, Aug 17 at 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
- Wed, Aug 19 at 5:00 pm – 6:00 pm
- Thurs, Aug 20 at 5:00 pm – 6:00 pm
Virtual 9th Grade and New Student Orientation
To help orient rising 9th graders, new students, and their families, we also have scheduled a series of Virtual New Student Orientation Meetings via Zoom. We ask that only rising 9th grade students, new students, and their families attend these sessions. These sessions will be offered on the following dates and times:
- Tues, Aug 11 at 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm
- Wed, Aug 12 at 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm
- Mon, Aug 17 at 5:00 pm – 6:00 pm
- Wed, Aug 19 at 9:00 am – 10:00 am
- Thurs, Aug 20 at 9:00 am – 10:00 am
All orientation sessions have an attendance capacity based on Zoom’s capabilities. Therefore, attendees will be admitted on a first come first serve basis. The Zoom link and password are the same for all sessions:
Meeting ID: 975 8188 1939 Passcode: D63Tty
Our school hours have changed this year. 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 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 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. Please know, safety is our number one priority, as well. Our plans and procedures are based on the recommendations we have received from health professionals. These plans 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.
Student Attendance Pattern
All students, even those who have selected a completely online instructional plan, should have received an email from our school division notifying them of their assigned group. The groups are labeled A, B, C, and D. Our plan is for students, unless they have chosen the completely online option, to attend school in-person 2 days a week. Groups A and C will attend Mondays and Thursdays. Groups B and D will attend Tuesdays and Fridays. This means only Groups A and C will attend in person on August 31, the first day of school. Should guidance force us to be more restrictive and only allow students to attend 1 day, Group A would come on Mondays, Group B on Tuesdays, Group C on Thursdays, and Group D on Fridays. If you or your child did not receive an email with information about their learning group (A, B, C, D) and instructional plan (online or hybrid) please call our Main Office at 540-387-2437.
Student class schedules will be visible in the PowerSchool Parent Portal on Monday, August 17. As we work to balance classes, the order of a student’s courses and even some of their teachers could change up until the first day of school.
We have measured our classrooms to determine each room’s maximum capacity based on 6 feet of physical distancing. We used that data to balance our class sections to provide the safest possible environment. If necessary, we moved individual class sections into larger spaces to accommodate more students. Between each class period, desks and chairs will be sanitized. Students will not share materials in class.
Other than while eating, students will be required to wear appropriate masks or face coverings when physical distancing is not possible. 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.
Beyond how we schedule students and classes, we have taken the following additional measures to create a safe environment:
- Health screening questions will be sent home for families. Students and faculty will stay home if they cannot answer satisfactorily.
- All 1st period teachers will lead students through a review of health screening questions each day.
- If students or staff are sick at school or display symptoms, SHS will defer to the Virginia Department of Health’s protocols, procedures, and guidance.
- Students will be expected to maintain physical distancing between classes and when walking in the hallways.
- Water fountains will be “bagged” to make them inaccessible.
- 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. If we return to 100% in-person attendance we will go back to our traditional model for lunches.
If, after gaining a better understanding of our procedures, you would like to change your child’s status from hybrid to completely online or from completely online to hybrid, please let us know as soon as possible.
So much has changed recently, and many things we took for granted are now different. But here’s one thing that hasn’t changed: Our faculty loves the young people of Salem. We still do what we do because we truly want to support them as they prepare to live lives of meaning and purpose. Not even a global pandemic can change that truth.
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,