Asheville City Schools has determined that we will continue with at-home, remote instruction for most students in Kindergarten - 12th Grade through the end of the second nine weeks and Winter Holidays.
Additionally, on Monday, November 30th, our elementary schools will begin bringing back small groups of about 40 students per building. Students will be selected based on the following criteria:
-Their beginning of year assessments
-Their current engagement in the remote environment
-Feedback from teachers
-Student participation in the Exceptional Children's program
We will then begin our large-scale, gradual transition from Plan C to Plan B, which is a blend of both in-person and remote learning, tentatively starting Monday, January 11th.
We believe it’s imperative to have a slower reopening that allows us to carefully plan and maintain safety protocols for all campuses; therefore, please know the second semester begins on Monday, January 4th and will be remote for all students for the first week. We will begin with transitioning to in-person learning for just our Kindergarten - 5th Graders on Monday, January 11th. This age group was determined based on scientific research, including this article from The Journal of Infectious Diseases. It explains that although there is limited information on age and its impact on COVID-19 transmission, “susceptibility to infection for children ages 10 and under is estimated to be significantly lower,” which provides the safest possible learning environment for our students and staff.
Information about a return date for our secondary students will be announced following the Winter Holiday.
The district’s Plan B for elementary students will incorporate face-to-face instruction days and remote learning days at home, on an “A Week / B Week” schedule. All students will utilize remote learning during the weeks they are not meeting in person.
For students who have experienced at least one COVID-19 symptom, with or without being diagnosed with COVID-19:
Students who have experienced at least one COVID-19 symptom, with or without being diagnosed with COVID-19, should not be in school.
Students can return to school once there is no fever without the use of fever-reducing medicines and they have felt well for 24 hours if they receive confirmation of an alternative diagnosis from a health care provider that would explain the COVID-19-like symptom(s).
Without confirmation of an alternative diagnosis, students should stay home until they (or a family member answering for a younger child) can answer YES to all three of the following questions:
- Has it been at least 10 days since they first had symptoms?
- Has it been at least 24 hours since they had a fever without using fever-reducing medicine?
- Have respiratory symptoms improved, including cough or shortness of breath?
Students are not required to have documentation of a negative test in order to return to school.
If students have a negative COVID-19 test, they can return to school once there is no fever without the use of fever-reducing medicines and they have felt well for 24 hours.
For students who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 but do not have symptoms:
Students who have been diagnosed with COVID-19, but do not have symptoms must remain out of school until 10 days have passed since the date of their first positive COVID-19 diagnostic test.
Students are not required to have documentation of a negative test in order to return to school.
If a student develops symptoms, they cannot return to school until they meet the criteria for students who have experienced at least one symptom.
For students who have been exposed to COVID-19 and do not have symptoms:
Students who have been exposed to COVID-19 and do not have symptoms must remain out of school for 14 days since their last exposure, even if they test negative for COVID-19. If they develop symptoms, they cannot return to school until they meet the criteria for students who have experienced at least one symptom.
No. Federal coronavirus guidance does not recommend universal testing of all students and staff in K-12 schools. Instead, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations suggest testing efforts for K-12 students should focus on those with symptoms of the virus and those who may have had exposure to infected individuals.
- Face coverings are required for all students and staff on buses and school campuses.
- Daily temperature checks will be taken before staff and students enter an Asheville City Schools campus.
- Social distancing will include spaced seating on buses and in class, marked reminders on floors, and fewer people in the building.
- This means non-essential visitors and activities involving outside groups and organizations will be limited, and activities that involve bringing together large groups of people (like assemblies, performances and field trips) are discontinued until further notice.
- Staff will follow prescribed cleaning and disinfecting recommendations.
- Teachers will be encouraging increased handwashing and proper sneezing hygiene, and hand sanitizers will be available in each classroom.
- Contact tracers with Buncombe County Health and Human Services will notify an individual if they have been in close contact with a COVID-19 positive case. As a reminder, close contact is defined by the CDC as “anyone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes over a 24 hour time period.”
- Asheville City Schools will follow the directions shared by Buncombe County Health and Human Service to carry out their recommendations for contacting students, staff and families as well as their specific cleaning protocols.
- We will consult with our local health department to determine whether they believe closing a classroom or an entire campus is required. Please take note that there may be no need to close the school if BCHHS determines that close contacts are excluded and there is sufficient space to continue normal operations.
- Rooms will have unnecessary items removed to reduce the number of frequently touched surfaces requiring disinfecting
- Each building will have a custodial member assigned as the “high-touch” sanitizer to specifically clean frequently touched areas in the building throughout the school day. This is to include door knobs, door handles, water-bottle filling stations, flat surfaces in common areas, bathrooms, general office workspaces, etc. This individual will cycle throughout the building during the work day.
- To reduce the possibility of cross-contamination and aid in contact tracing, staff and students will only spend time in a limited number of spaces on a daily basis. This schedule will continue throughout the pandemic. More specifically, students will be assigned the same bus/bus seat, classroom/class seat, bathroom, etc. throughout this event.
- Each room on every ACS campus has been measured and assigned a “50% Capacity” maximum number based on each person requiring 36 sq. ft to maintain social distancing
- Water fountains will be disabled. However, the water-bottle filling stations will be open for students to get water as needed. Disposable cups will be provided for students and staff. Students may bring a bottle from home if they choose. The water-bottle filling stations will be sanitized multiple times throughout the day.
- All spaces will be sanitized with a CDC-approved virucide after the occupants leave the building each day.
- The Asheville City Schools Maintenance Department has taken the following steps within the past two months:
- Hired an outside, third-party consultant to inspect the functionality of all HVAC systems. The third-party consultant is prepared to go through the systems again in the month of October. They made recommendations to our Maintenance Department, which our staff have continued to follow including: outside air flow, indoor humidity maintenance, air filtration, etc.
- Hired an outside, third-party to inspect the air-quality within each ACS building.
- Changed the minimum level air filters in our HVAC air handlers required by federal regulations to the higher grade MERV-13 filters. This is the grade of filter used in hospitals and care-centers.
- Purchased and will continue to purchase outdoor pavilion tents for schools to set-up outdoor learning areas. This will only of course be effective as the temperature and weather allows us to use those areas.
- In Asheville City Schools, the safety of our students and staff is always our TOP priority. We believe the use of masks/face coverings are essential in protecting our Cougar Family and preventing the spread of COVID-19. Therefore, per the N.C. Department of Health & Human Services guidelines, face coverings are required for everyone in our schools and on our buses – including students, staff, and any visitors to campus. If students, staff, or visitors do not have a mask, one will be provided for them.
- If parents or families have a medical reason why your child cannot wear a mask, please contact your child's school.
- Please know that mask breaks will be built into our daily schedule. Breaks will be scheduled according to building protocols and will occur when students can maintain a distance of six feet from others for the duration of the break. Mask breaks should take place outside whenever possible, and if held indoors, windows should be opened for the duration of the break.
- Students who present symptoms at school will be sent home, with directions from public health officials. Check this NCDHHS flow chart to see how school nurses will screen individuals for COVID-19 symptoms.
- If a student is unable to leave the school immediately, they will be monitored away from other individuals in a privacy room until they are able to be picked up. Each school will have an area for isolation, as well as an area for nurses to provide routine care. School nurses have worked with individual principals to establish these areas, based on the logistics of each school.
Students will complete work and assignments at-home in the remote environment, just as they would with any other sickness (flu, virus, etc).
When a teacher becomes ill, he or she may use their own sick leave or use the emergency federal COVID leave, which is 80 hours of paid leave.
Currently, the district has employed over 100 substitute teachers. We are not utilizing substitute teachers for remote learning; however, the district will be assigning substitute teachers to schools for Plan B. Substitute teachers will follow the regular protocol for instruction.
A completely virtual option will be available for any student/family who chooses, regardless of the reasoning for selecting this option.
- We understand the desire to know if you or your family might be at risk for contracting and spreading COVID-19 and we want to do everything we can to stop the spread of COVID in our community. If a student or staff members tests positive for COVID-19, contact tracing will occur and close contacts will be contacted by communicable disease staff in alignment with our state-adopted Crisis Management Plans and current procedures. Should there be any concerning trends or an outbreak (5 or more cases) at a school, Buncombe County Health and Human Services and the district will send out a notification to staff, school families, and to the community through all available communication channels. Furthermore, clusters and outbreaks will be included on the NCDHHS website. Both the health department and ACS will provide as transparent reporting as possible while still protecting confidentiality. However, please understand the district will not provide personally identifiable information of an infected person.
- Additionally, in collaboration with BCHHS and Buncombe County Schools, Asheville City Schools released its first COVID-19 reporting form on Thursday, November 5th. Moving forward, the Dashboard will be updated once a week, each Thursday at 9:00 AM. Please know the Dashboard will be linked on our Return to Learn webpage. It combines staff and student numbers and includes:
- -New Cases
- -Active Cases
- -A Case Count Of Those Released From Isolation
The reporting form is organized by school and includes numbers from the Central Office as well. However, it does NOT include staff working remotely or students learning in a remote setting.
Yes. As part of our daily medical screening questions, students will be required to answer if they live with someone who is waiting for COVID-19 test results or has been diagnosed with COVID-19.
Students will be assigned classes with students and teachers from their home campus. Utilizing a half-day online schedule, they will attend school remotely and simultaneously with their peers each morning. In the afternoon, students will be able to speak with teachers for one-on-one support as well as complete independent assignments. Daily attendance will be taken, and student grading expectations will look similar to in-person expectations.
We have the best staff, and we want to provide them with the best resources in the safest environment possible.
Since the spring, we have received state and local guidance as well as implemented safety protocols that permit staff to work on campus. Additionally, we have worked with our local health department on determining which plan to proceed with as well as best practices on reporting any safety concerns.
Through parent and staff surveys, it was shared that students are more engaged when they are receiving whole class sessions from a classroom setting.
Teachers’ classrooms are equipped with appropriate technology, manipulatives, specialized equipment, lab equipment, and other teaching resources to effectively engage remotely.
Our technology and devices on school campuses can receive appropriate maintenance and updates as needed.
As a way to stay connected even while under an all remote learning model, every member of our Student Support Services Department is setting up their very own "virtual office." A one-stop support shop, each person's virtual office will provide students and families with resources like mindfulness exercises, growth mindset tips, scholarship opportunities as well as give you a chance to schedule virtual meetings. To learn more, watch this short video.
Students with IEPs will receive services based on the child’s unique learning style and ACS’s reopening plan. Addendum meetings will be scheduled either in person or virtually, as needed, to review and revise the IEP- to plan for the child’s programming. Addendum IEP meetings will be scheduled to review the goals, services and supports needed as a result of the district’s reopening plan.
Section 504 plans will be reviewed to ensure accommodations can be provided in line with remote learning.
Yes, the ACS Preschool programs will operate in-person at a reduced capacity beginning on August 17th. Director of Preschool Programs, Susanna Smith, will be sharing additional information with enrolled preschool families soon.
The Asheville High School Childcare Center has not been affiliated with the Asheville City Schools Preschool Program although they both operate under appropriate state childcare/preschool guidelines. The childcare center has been an instructional class under the Career and Technical Education (CTE) program. It is a teaching class where high school students have opportunities to learn about the early childhood education field. Unfortunately, without high school students attending school face-to-face, the AHS Childcare class cannot be funded and operate in its current format. Funding is based on high school students participating in class through this CTE program.
Despite these challenges, Asheville City Schools is committed to the families of the Asheville High School Childcare Center. All impacted families received communication detailing an opportunity to join the district’s preschool program on the campus of Asheville Primary School.
Our School Nutrition Department is committed to supporting our families by continuing to serve healthy meals to your children. Due to USDA restriction, all options may not be available once the new school year begins. But, our outstanding staff will continue to serve meals --- even if it is in an altered capacity.
No. Our Technology Department is dedicated to ensuring all students begin the 2020-2021 school year with a device that will allow them to successfully complete remote learning. There is no need for your family to buy a separate computer/tablet for your child.
Yes, dual enrollment courses with AB Tech will occur as scheduled.
Asheville City Schools will be utilizing the expertise of our teaches to successfully execute remote-learning. A separate platform will not be required, as our educators will be teaching their students directly through both live, computer-based instruction, small group guidance as well as independent at-home learning.
Answer: We understand many parents across our district must return to their place of business, which is complicated, as Asheville City Schools will begin the 2020-2021 school year with remote instruction. If you are having trouble searching for childcare, Buncombe County Partnership for Children has put together this helpful map of all licensed child care centers across our county. Additionally, please review these supportive community resources compiled by United Way.
Additionally, we've learned the Y will offer half-day afternoon programs at the Asheville YMCA and the Reuter Family YMCA from 1:30-5:30 p.m. The program will include recreation and physical activity. The cost is $95/week per child for non-YMCA members and $70/week for Y members. Financial assistance is available.
Asheville City Schools understands there’s a big difference between being a parent and being a full-time educator. We are currently developing resources that will support you in this very difficult task.
Asheville City Schools will be cancelling all facility rentals that involve the use of any of our buildings effective Monday, March 16th at 8:00 AM.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a virus strain that has only spread in people since December 2019. Health experts are concerned because little is known about this new virus.
Reported cases have ranged from mild illness (similar to a common cold) to severe pneumonia that requires hospitalization. So far, deaths have been reported mainly in older adults who had other health conditions.
People who have been diagnosed with novel coronavirus have reported symptoms that may appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after exposure.
Symptoms of the coronavirus are fever, cough and shortness of breath. The virus may be transmitted by being in close proximity with droplet contact (coughing, sneezing, etc.) from an infected person.
Health experts are still learning the details. Currently it is thought to spread:
- Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
- Via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
- These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.
- Students and staff should stay home when they are sick. If students or staff members have a fever, they should stay home until they are fever-free.
- Avoid other people who are sick.
- Everyone - students, staff, school volunteers and visitors - should wash their hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds (about as long as it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” twice). We will be providing increased emphasis on hand washing in our schools. The CDC says the washing of hands is the first line of defense. In fact, one of our sources states that washing your hands at least five times a day could reduce the likelihood of contracting a respiratory infection by around 15 to 20%.
- Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or your arm. The CDC is not advising the wearing of masks.
- Avoid touching your eyes, mouth and nose.
- Parents are reminded to consult their physician if they have any concerns.
- Residents who return from recent international travel with history of travel to affected areas and become ill with respiratory signs and symptoms such as fever and cough should report their travel history to any health professional or medical facility, when they visit.
As adults, it’s important we remain calm with our actions and words, and share factual information. Sharing accurate information during a time of heightened concern is critical. One of the ways we can protect our community from illness is to keep rumors and misinformation from spreading.
Here are some resources you may use to talk about the coronavirus with students:
This is an evolving situation. Stay up to date by consulting the following webpages: