• August 4, 2020

    Good Afternoon Students, Staff and Families. This is Dr. Gene with additional updates about our Return to Learn plans. 

    I wanted to let you know that our website’s Frequently Asked Questions page has been updated with additional information thanks to your inquiries.  

    Question:  I know the district’s opening under Plan C.  Will my child continue to receive support from the Student Services Department even though we’re beginning the school year in a remote setting?    

    • 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.  

    Question:  Will Asheville City Schools be having Open Houses? 

    • Yes.  Open House and orientation events are being planned now.  The format for your child’s school will be determined based on their grade level.  Please see below for additional information. Orientation Format

    Question:  Traditionally, my child attends preschool on the Asheville High School/SILSA campus.  Will they continue to have class?  

    • 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. 

    Question: Can you tell me more about why our teachers will be conducting lessons from their classrooms as opposed to at-home, like this spring? 

    • 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. 

    Question:  Will my student receive a device before school starts? 

    • In collaboration with schools, our Instruction Technology Department is currently creating a timeline for device/instructional tools distribution.  

    Thank you for your continued support of Asheville City Schools!  Please continue to reach out with any questions your family may have.  We know and understand this is a difficult time with many uncertainties.  Our goal remains supporting your family any way we can.  

  • August 3, 2020 

    Good Evening Students, Staff and Families. This is Dr. Gene with an important update about our Cougar Family.

    We want to share news of positive COVID-19 cases in our Asheville Middle and Asheville High sports programs. We believe it’s important to be as transparent as possible about this pandemic and, by sharing this information, you have the information you need to take steps to slow the spread of COVID-19 in our school community.

     As of Monday, August 3rd, Asheville City Schools can confirm two positive cases of COVID-19 in Asheville Middle School and two cases in Asheville High School, impacting four sports teams across both campuses.  These individuals are self-isolating safely at home, in accordance with public health guidance. 

    Per Buncombe County Public Health, there is community spread of COVID-19, and, at this point, these cases have not been linked to the school sports workouts but are linked to COVID-19 spread in the community.  

    However, out of an abundance of precaution, we will be cancelling all athletic workout sessions at the high school and middle school through Friday, August 21st.  At that time, schools will communicate with families about our ability to resume practice.  Decisions will be made in collaboration with and with guidance from Buncombe County Health and Human Services.

    The Buncombe County Health Department has conducted an investigation and notified all families with a child who was in close contact with a person testing positive for COVID-19. If your family was not contacted by the Buncombe County Health Department, your child was not considered to be a close contact.  Close contact is defined by the CDC as “anyone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes starting from 48 hours before the person began feeling sick until the time the patient was isolated.”

    Please understand that, in accordance with North Carolina High School Athletic Association regulations, each Asheville City Schools student-athlete has their temperature taken each and every day by a health professional.  Coaches, staff and managers wear cloth face coverings at all times as well as maintain six feet of social distancing  Our student-athletes also wear a face mask when they are not actively engaged in physical activity; face masks are not worn during rigorous workouts because we don’t want to inhibit your child’s ability to breathe, especially during running and high aerobic activity, but students will continue to maintain social distancing throughout practice.  If your child does not have a mask or forgets their mask at home, one will be provided for them.  In addition to our student-athletes and staff wearing personal protective equipment, please know that each location has hand-washing stations for students and staff members to use.  Routine hand-washing is practiced during each workout session.  If you have any questions about our protocols or procedures, please contact MAHEC’s School Health Program Manager, April Baur, at (828) 772-9062. 

    Now more than ever, I believe we made the tough but right call by selecting Option C.   Remember, there is community spread of COVID-19. To slow the spread of COVID-19 in our school communities, let’s all continue to follow the public health guidance of the 3 W’s if we must go out into the community. If we all wear a face covering, wait 6 feet apart from each other, and wash our hands, we can get back to learning in the classroom and sports events sooner- rather than later!

    Thank you for partnering with us in keeping our students, staff and school community safe and healthy.

  • July 29, 2020 

    Good Afternoon Students, Staff and Families.  This is Dr. Gene with an update about our Return to Learn plans.  

    As we look to Fall 2020, we know each of you faces a unique set of circumstances.  At this time, we think that Plan C is the best way forward, with the fewest negative impacts for our community.  We believe our outstanding staff is dedicated to doing just that. 

    Last Thursday, the Asheville City Board of Education unanimously voted to delay bringing students back to campus.  Instead, all students, Kindergarten - 12th Grade, will begin the school year with remote instruction delivered by ACS teachers from your child’s assigned school.  

    All ACS students will begin with remote learning under Plan C, at least through the first nine weeks (which concludes on October 23rd).  Therefore, we are not offering a Virtual Academy at this time.  We will be revisiting our Virtual Academy option prior to the end of the first nine weeks and will keep families informed.  

    Under Plan C: 

    • All instruction for students in Kindergarten - 12th Grade will be delivered remotely with a combination of scheduled, online, whole-class sessions, and independent at-home learning.  
    • Each day will consist of scheduled instructional sessions for classes in the morning and time in the afternoon for students to complete both individual and group work as well as meet with their teachers for additional support and feedback.
    • Teachers will be delivering instruction from their classrooms. 
    • Staff will be onsite and practicing proper safety measures.  This includes but will not be limited to staff remaining in their classrooms/offices as much as possible and wearing masks whenever they interact with other staff. 
    • sample remote learning school day table is below:  

    Schedule Class Time

    • Pre-Kindergarten: 
      • At this time, we will open on August 17th across all sites with reduced student capacity.  The Director of Preschool Programs, Susanna Smith, will soon be sharing additional information with enrolled preschool families.
      • Face coverings will be required and provided for every teacher, staff member and student.  Symptom screenings will take place each day, and frequent handwashing will be built into our daily schedules.  
    • Kindergarten - 5th Grade:  
      • Elementary school instruction will occur from 8:30 AM - 2:30 PM. 
      • Each day will begin with a morning community meeting. 
      • Core instruction, which consists of math, reading, science and social studies, will occur each day.  
      • Students will meet with one of their specialist teachers (P.E., art, music,etc.) each day.  
      • A specific remote learning schedule will be released by your child’s assigned school.  
    • 6th - 12th Grade: 
      • Middle school instruction will occur from 8:30 AM - 3:30 PM.  
        • Because our middle school schedule includes six blocks, real-time, online whole class sessions will occur from 8:30 - 1:30 PM.  A lunch break will be built in. 
        • Scheduled individual/small group support and office hours will occur from 1:30 - 3:30 PM. 
      • High school instruction will occur from 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM. 
        • Because our high school schedule includes four blocks, real-time, online whole class sessions will occur from 9:00 - 12:15 PM. 
        • Scheduled small group support and office hours will occur from 12:45 - 4:00 PM. 
      • A specific remote learning schedule will be released by your child’s assigned school.  
      • Schedules will be mailed by the second week of August. 

    How will Plan C differ from the at-home instruction that occurred in the spring? 

    • Remote learning for the 2020-21 school year will focus on review of prior knowledge, prior concepts and new learning as well as continued connections with teachers. Students and families should plan for rigorous expectations of engagement through instruction, work completion, and project-based learning that is closely aligned to in-person instruction. 
    • Attendance will be taken on a daily basis.
    • Student grading expectations will look similar to in-person expectations.  Grades will be entered into PowerSchool on a regular basis.
    • Similar to a traditional classroom experience, students will have daily access to their teachers. 
    • Teachers will provide feedback to both the student and the parent about the child’s learning progress. We will follow the district calendar for parent-teacher conferences.
    • The district is creating resources for parents and guardians who are assisting children with remote learning at home.

    Our goal and expectation is to resume face-to-face learning as soon as it is safely possible to do so.  Therefore, our current plan will be continuously evaluated and refined based on the latest guidance from Governor Cooper, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction and Buncombe County Health and Human Services.

  • July 28, 2020 

    Good Afternoon Students, Staff and Families.  This is Dr. Gene with additional updates about our Return to Learn plans. 

    As previously communicated, Asheville City Schools will start on August 17th, with at-home remote instruction for all students Kindergarten - 12th Grade.  Our district will be releasing a more detailed schedule for Plan C tomorrow, but in the meantime, thank you to several of our families who reached out, asking for more details following yesterday’s communication.  In response to your questions, we’ve compiled the following answers.  

    Question:  I know the district is starting under Plan C, but I need to return to work.  Do you have any suggestions about affordable childcare?

    • 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.  

    Question:  Will Asheville City Schools continue serving meals while the district is under Plan C? 

    • Answer:  Our School Nutrition Department is committed to supporting our families by continuing to serve healthy meals to your children.  As we transition from our Summer Meals Program to the 2020-2021 school year, the department is seeking your feedback on meal pickup preferences.  This short survey is open now through Friday, July 31st.  Please understand it is intended to gauge interest in different serving models; 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.  Once we receive your valuable feedback as well as additional information from the state, we will share more. 

    Question:  How will Individual Educational Plans (IEPs) and Section 504 Plans be implemented in our Return to Learn plans? 

    • Answer:   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. 

    Question:  Will Asheville City Schools be having Open Houses? 

    • Answer: Open House and orientation events are being planned now.  More information will be shared directly by your child’s school.  

    Question:  Originally, my high schooler signed up for dual-enrollment courses through Asheville-Buncombe Technical College.  Will that still be a possibility this fall? 

    • Answer:  Yes, dual enrollment courses with AB Tech will occur as scheduled.   

    Question:  Am I expected to buy a computer for my child to complete remote learning? 

    • Answer:  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.  More information will soon be provided about picking up/replacing devices, chargers, hot spots, etc. 

    Question:  I am not a teacher. How can I effectively support my child as they learn remotely? 

    • Answer:  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.  

    Question: Will the ACS Preschool programs operate in-person?

    • Answer: 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.
  • July 23, 2020

    Good Afternoon Asheville City Schools. This is Dr. Gene with an important update about our Return to Learn plans.

    After further consideration and hearing more from staff and families, Asheville City Schools has decided to move from Plan B to Plan C, at least through the first nine weeks. This means our schools will start on August 17th, with at-home remote instruction for all students Kindergarten - 12th Grade.

    According to Buncombe County Health and Human Services, our county’s COVID-19 numbers continue to accelerate. Therefore, we believe it’s imperative to have a slower reopening that allows us to carefully plan and maintain safety protocols for all campuses.

    Additional information, including a more detailed schedule for Plan C and Virtual Academy registration, will be released early next week. Again, all students Kindergarten - 12th Grade will begin with remote instruction on August 17th. 

  • July 22, 2020 

    Good Afternoon Students, Staff and Families.  This is Dr. Gene with additional information about our Return to Learn plans. 

    As a reminder, families will have two options for the 2020-2021 school year.  

    ACS Instructional Options

    The following communication pertains to Option 2, our full-time Virtual Academy. 

    Asheville City Schools is committed to offering a year-long virtual option for any student who wishes to complete all their assignments from home.  The Virtual Academy is intended to serve students who do not plan to transition back to face-to-face learning at any point during the 2020-2021 school year. 

    Previously, this option was geared toward our rising Kindergarten - 6th Graders, as our rising 7th - 12th Graders are already beginning the year under a remote learning model.  However, after hearing your feedback, Asheville City Schools’ Virtual Academy will now be extended Kindergarten - 12th Grade.  

    As you know, our hope is to have all students back in the classroom at some point this school year; however, we also want to be mindful of the unique needs and circumstances of all of our families and give each one the opportunity to have their child complete all assignments from home regardless of their grade.  Therefore, if this is an option your family is considering, please take note: 

    • The Virtual Academy will be carried out using an online platform. 
      • Kindergarten - 5th Grade:  Edmentum’s Calvert Learning 
      • 6th - 8th Grade: Edmentum’s Courseware
      • 9th - 12th Grade: North Carolina Virtual Public School
    • For rising Kindergarten - 8th Graders, an Asheville City Schools teacher will facilitate this instruction; however, the teacher may not be from your child’s assigned school.  For students in 9th - 12th Grade, teachers will be assigned through North Carolina Virtual Public School. 
    • The curriculum for the Asheville City Schools Virtual Academy will be aligned to the state standards but will use different materials, methods, and timelines than the instruction that will be taught through our Plan B hybrid model. 
    • There will be opportunities for differentiation to serve students' individual academic needs, hands-on exploratory learning and independent projects. 
    • By carrying out the Virtual Academy, please know our top priorities include providing learning opportunities that balance both screen time and hands-on engagement with the curriculum.

    Will you be holding a Virtual Academy information session?

    Yes.  Additional guidelines and our registration form will be released by next Wednesday, July 29th.  Following its release, Asheville City Schools will be hosting a Virtual Academy information session on Tuesday, August 4th at 5:30 PM.  It will take place on the district’s Facebook page, @AVLCitySchools.  In addition to answering questions from the feed’s comment section, you may also submit questions beforehand here that will be answered during the live information session.  

    Will my child be in front of a computer screen if we select the Virtual Academy? 

    Hearing your concerns, please understand that choosing to have your child participate in the Virtual Academy will not mean they will be in front of a computer screen for the duration of the entire school day.  However, selecting the Virtual Academy will require additional support from an adult, parent or guardian, who will serve as your child’s At-Home Learning Coach.  The At-Home Learning Coach will support their child in completing assignments, hands-on activities, research, project-based learning activities as well as computer-based lessons.  Please see the table below for grade-specific information. 

    Adult Learning Coach

    If we select the Virtual Academy is it for the whole year? 

    The Virtual Academy is intended to serve students who do not plan to transition back to face-to-face learning at any point during the 2020-2021 school year. 

    Our family does not wish to utilize the Virtual Academy option. Is there anything we need to do? 

    No.  It will be an opt-in model that will require registration.  

    Thank you for your continued support of Asheville City Schools.  I will continue to provide you with additional Return to Learn updates as they become available.

  • July 16, 2020 

    Good Afternoon Students, Staff and Families.  This is Ashley-Michelle Thublin, Executive Director of Communications, with some additional information about our Return to Learn Plan. 

    As Dr. Gene shared in yesterday’s update, one of our top priorities is transparency; our goal is to release more information about the steps we’re taking to ensure a safe reopening just as soon as it becomes available.  Therefore, please know this plan is a living document and will be updated as more decisions are finalized.  However, for now, you can:  

    • Learn more about what a typical day will look for both in-person and virtual learning through our Curriculum and Instruction Department Update.

    •  Review the continued efforts of our Student Services Department to bridge the gap between our homes, schools and communities.

    • Understand the additional safety protocols that will be implemented on your child’s bus ride. 

    • Learn more about our added sanitation procedures, which will be especially important once our students and staff members return. 

    In addition to compiling the information in a one-stop-shop presentation, we’ve also made short videos.  Each one covers a unique topic.  Links for each one can be found below: 

    Thank you for your continued support of Asheville City Schools, especially as we’re working through so many unknowns.  Now more than ever, your thoughts, feedback and suggestions are invaluable.  I hope you have a wonderful rest of your evening, and, of course, Cougar Pride! 

  • July 15, 2020 

    Good Afternoon Students, Staff and Families.  This is Dr. Gene with some additional information regarding our Return to Learn Plan. 

    First and foremost, thank you to several of our families who reached out, asking for more details following yesterday’s communication.  In response to your questions, we’ve compiled the following answers.  

    Question:  My child falls in the category of a rising Kindergartener - 6th Grader.  When will I learn if they’re attending Week A or Week B? 

    • Answer:  Our elementary and middle school principals will inform your family as to whether your child will be attending Week A or Week B by Friday, July 31st. 

    Question:  I understand that Asheville City Schools is opting to continue with remote instruction for rising 7th - 12th Graders.  Will this be for the entire year? 

    • Answer:  Our goal is for rising 7th and 8th Graders to begin our Plan B, hybrid model following the first nine-week period.  Our goal is for high school students to start transitioning to Plan B at the start of the second semester.  These plans are subject to change and will be contingent on the latest guidance from Governor Cooper, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction as well as the Buncombe County Health Department at the time of the anticipated transition.   

    Question:  During Governor Cooper’s July 14th announcement, he said all schools could utilize the hybrid model.  Why is Asheville City Schools continuing to access remote instruction for rising 7th - 12th Graders? 

    • Regardless of which school your child attends, minimizing the number of students of any given campus will be key in stopping the spread of COVID-19.  Due to the unique layouts of Asheville Middle School, Montford North Star Academy, and the Asheville High School & SILSA campus, we believe it’s imperative to have a slower reopening plan that allows us to carefully plan and maintain safety protocols for campuses, taking in account the movement required in the 7th-12th Grade student schedules and higher teacher to student ratio in classrooms. 
    • Each middle and high school student has an individual schedule, tailor-made to fit their unique academic needs and interests.  This means our students don’t move throughout the building as an entire class.  Therefore, it’s incredibly difficult to maintain required social distancing throughout the school day for each and every student.
    • Our rising 7th - 12th Graders are the most familiar with a remote learning environment, as their at-home learning started with CANVAS classrooms on March 17th.  Our 2019-2020 elementary students began their at-home learning with paper packets and only began transitioning to some virtual learning in April. 

    Question:  My child falls into the category of a rising 7th - 12th Grader.  When will I know if their schedule has changed because their classes are now remote? 

    • Traditionally, students receive their schedules by the second week of August. Consistent with our traditional timeline, students will know which classes they are taking when they receive their schedule. Additionally, that is also when they will learn whether one or more of their classes includes optional, in-person lab hours that will occur on their middle or high school’s campus. 

    Question:  Has a screening protocol been established for when students and staff members arrive at school? 

    • If there is a positive diagnosis amongst one of our students or staff members, we will notify the Buncombe County Health and Human Services (as required by NCGS § 130A-136) and work with them to follow their procedures such as contact tracing. 
    • 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.

    Again, I’d like to reiterate that we fully understand that no Return to Learn Plan is perfect.  However, we are dedicated to keeping our students and staff members safe, educating your children and being as transparent as possible.  We look forward to sharing more with you about our sanitation and transportation protocols, the actions we’ve put in place to support your child’s mental health as well as what your child’s day could look like in the next few days.

  • July 14, 2020 

    Good Afternoon Students, Staff and Families.  This is Dr. Gene with an important update about our district. 

    Earlier this afternoon, Governor Cooper announced that all school districts across the state have the option to start under a Plan B model.  At this time, our schools will open on August 17th for in-person instruction but with additional restrictions for social distancing.  As explained by Governor Cooper, only half a school’s student body can report on any given day. On the days that a student does not report to school, they will utilize remote learning.  

    A few weeks ago, I shared the scenarios our Reopening Task Force are currently working through.  After hearing from several families and staff members as well as the Asheville City Board of Education, I wanted to let you know that Asheville City Schools will indeed be utilizing the Plan B model we previously shared.  This means: 

    • Pre-Kindergarten 
      • At this time, we plan to open on August 17th across all sites with reduced capacity.  Enrolled families will receive additional information from our Pre-K Director in the coming weeks. 
      • Face coverings will be required and provided for every teacher, staff member and student.  Symptom screenings will take place each day, and frequent handwashing will be built into our daily schedules.  
    • Kindergarten - 6th Grade:  
      • Face coverings will be required and provided for every teacher, staff member and student.  Symptom screenings will take place each day, and frequent handwashing will be built into our daily schedules.  
      • Classes will be split, with half of our students meeting in person one week and the other half meeting in person the following week.  On the weeks when a student is not meeting in person, they will utilize live, virtual whole class sessions and at-home instruction, which will greatly increase communication with teachers.  
      • At each grade level, some of the teachers are assigned face-to-face instruction and others are assigned to teach live, virtual whole class sessions. 
      • Following the normal bell schedule, face-to-face teachers will focus on: 
        • Introducing new concepts and skills
        • Direct instruction 
        • Classroom-based and hands-on activities 
      • Working on a modified schedule, virtual teachers will focus on: 
        • Reinforcement of learning 
        • Small group and individual support 
        • Pre-teaching concepts for face-to-face teaching 
      • After receiving your valuable feedback, please know we’ll do our very best to ensure that, if your family has multiple children in Kindergarten - 6th Grade, their in-person and at-home instruction weeks will be the same.  Although we cannot guarantee it, school and district based leaders are currently working through plans that will allow us to best meet your needs.  
    • 7th - 12th Grade: 
      • Middle and high school students will continue to access at-home learning, partnering live, virtual whole class sessions and CANVAS lessons.
      • Understanding that many of our older students care for younger siblings or other family members, lessons will also be recorded for access outside of the regularly scheduled school day. 
      • Middle school instruction will occur from 8:30 AM - 3:30 PM.  
        • Because our middle school schedule includes six blocks, live, online whole class sessions will occur from 8:30 - 1:30 PM.  A lunch break will be built in. 
        • Small group support and office hours will occur from 1:30 - 3:30 PM. 
      • High school instruction will occur from 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM. 
        • Because our high school schedule includes four blocks, live, online whole class sessions will occur from 9:00 - 12:00 PM. 
        • Small group support and office hours will occur from 12:30 - 4:00 PM. 
      • Students will participate in both whole class instructional periods and be provided with opportunities to meet with their instructors independently in small groups for additional support.
    • Staff is onsite and practicing proper safety measures.  This includes but will not be limited to staff remaining in their classrooms as much as possible and wearing masks whenever they interact with other staff or students. 

    Additionally, I want to reiterate that I am committed to offering a virtual option for any student who wishes to complete all their assignments from home.  As you begin to decide what is best for your child and family, please know that we have shared a survey with our rising Kindergarten - 6th Grade families asking whether they plan to send their children to school, or if they would like to utilize 100% remote learning.  The online platform will be coupled with an Asheville City Schools teacher for complete virtual instruction.  Knowing there are still many unknowns regarding COVID-19, please know that selecting an option does not “lock-in” your family.  At this time, we are simply gathering information, which will allow us to properly plan.  Parents can decide which option is best for their family through the first day of school.  Thank you to the more than 1,400 families that have already completed our latest survey. If you have not had a chance to do so, please take note that it has been extended through Friday, July 17th. 

    Thank you for your support of Asheville City Schools.  Now that Governor Cooper has decided how our district can safely reopen, we can begin finalizing our plans for operations, transportation, school nutrition and day-to-day instruction. Please know I will continue to be in touch as these decisions are made. 

  • July 9, 2020 

    Good Afternoon Students, Staff and Families.  This is Dr. Gene with an update about our district’s return to learn plan. 

    Like school districts across the state, Asheville City Schools is awaiting Governor Cooper's guidance as to what a safe return to school will look like this fall. 

    As you know from previous communications, if Governor Cooper selects Option B, our current plan is for students in Kindergarten - 6th Grade to return to school, alternating weekly face-to-face instruction with remote learning.  Students in 7th - 12th Grade will complete all work remotely.  

    Although there are still many unknowns, our district is gathering more information from our rising Kindergarten - 6th Grade families if Plan B is selected. 

    Therefore, please take a few minutes and complete this short survey to indicate whether your family plans to send your children to school, or if you would like to utilize 100% remote learning if schools are operating in a face-to-face setting.  Please know that parents who select the 100% remote learning option for their child are asked to commit to full-time, remote learning through December 2020.  

    The survey will close next Wednesday, July 15th. 

    Thank you for your continued support of Asheville City Schools, and should your family have any questions about our survey, please call (828) 350-6120. 

  • June 25, 2020

    Good Afternoon Students, Staff and Families.  This is Dr. Gene with an update about our district’s return-to-school plans. 

    As you may know, Governor Cooper and the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services will determine how our schools can safely reopen on or before next Wednesday, July 1st.  Like school districts across North Carolina, Asheville City Schools is closely monitoring our state and county’s COVID-19 metrics and is anxiously awaiting further guidance as to what this fall may look like. 

    At this time, Governor Cooper and the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services have released interim guidance, which includes three plans.  Based on state and regional COVID-19 metrics, they will recommend which plan Asheville City Schools should utilize. 

    • Plan A is the least restrictive reopening model and requires minimal social distancing.  It most closely resembles a traditional start to school. 
    • Plan B adds additional restrictions for social distancing and explains that no more than half a school’s student body can report on any given day. On the days that a student did not report to school, they would utilize remote learning.  
    • Plan C suspends all in-person instruction, meaning our district would continue to utilize  remote learning for all students.  As coronavirus numbers continue to increase across the state, we cannot downplay the possibility of having a complete virtual model. 

    Although we still have another week before the governor finalizes his recommendations, I wanted to keep you as informed as possible and let you know the scenarios our Reopening Task Force are currently working through.  

    Please know that these scenarios were created based on the feedback of the more than 700 families who completed our latest at-home learning survey.  Thank you for your invaluable feedback!  

    Additionally, these plans are contingent upon input from the Asheville City Board of Education who is meeting on Tuesday, June 30th. 

     

    Format

    Logistics

    Plan A

    All Face-to-Face

    • Return to school at full capacity with all staff and students in middle and high school wearing masks.  Additionally, all students, staff and faculty members would practice proper social distancing. 

    Plan B

    Alternating Remote/

    On-Site Weeks 

    • Staff is onsite and practicing proper safety measures.  This includes but would not be limited to staff remaining in their classrooms as much as possible and wearing masks whenever they interacted with other staff or students. 
    • Pre-K - 6th Grade:  
      • Classes would be split, with half of our students meeting in person one week and the other half meeting in person the following week.  On the weeks when a student is not meeting in person, they would utilize live, virtual whole class sessions and  at-home instruction, which would greatly increase communication with teachers.  
    • 7th - 12th Grade: 
      • Middle and high school students would continue to access at-home learning, partnering live, virtual whole class sessions and CANVAS lessons.
      • Understanding that many of our older students care for younger siblings or other family members, lessons would be also recorded for access outside of the regularly scheduled school day. 
      • Middle school instruction would occur from 8:30 AM - 3:30 PM.  
        • Live, online whole class sessions would occur from 8:30 - 1:30 PM.  A lunch break would be built in. 
        • Small group support and office hours would occur from 1:30 - 3:30 PM. 
      • High school instruction would occur from 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM. 
        • Live, online whole class sessions would occur from 9:00 - 12:00 PM. 
        • Small group support and office hours would occur from 12:30 - 4:00 PM. 
      • Students will participate in both whole class instructional periods and be provided with opportunities to meet with their instructors independently in small groups for additional support. 

    Plan C

    All Remote

    • Staff is onsite and practicing proper safety measures.  This includes but would not be limited to staff remaining in their classrooms as much as possible and wearing masks whenever they interacted with other staff. 
    • All lessons would be completed remotely.  In order to most closely resemble a traditional classroom, lessons would include live, virtual whole class sessions and at-home instruction that would occur from 8:00 AM - 2:30 PM for elementary students, 8:30 AM - 3:30 PM for middle schoolers and 9:00 - 4:00 PM for high schoolers.  Understanding that many of our older students care for younger siblings or other family members, lessons would be also recorded for access outside of the regularly scheduled school day. 

    Additionally, please know that I hear and understand that many of our families are concerned about an in-person return to school with so many unknowns about COVID-19.  Therefore, should Governor Cooper decide our district should utilize Plan A or Plan B, I am committed to offering a virtual option for any student who wishes to complete all their assignments from home.  As you begin to decide what is best for your child and family, please know that should he select Plan A or Plan B, our principals will be sending more information and a survey asking how your child will complete instruction this fall. 

    I fully understand that no plan is perfect; however, I can tell you that my number one priority is keeping our students and staff members safe.  My second is redesigning our current structures for teaching, learning and operations.  Hearing your feedback, please know that the Reopening Task Force is creating consistent expectations across our schools to ensure our return will be as smooth as possible, regardless of which plan is selected.  

    Have a wonderful evening, and thank you for your continued support of Asheville City Schools. 

  • June 12, 2020

    Good Afternoon Students, Staff and Families.  This is Dr. Gene, Asheville City Schools. 

    As you may have seen, Governor Cooper and the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services released interim guidance about districts reopening in the fall.  While we certainly appreciate their concerted efforts, I wanted to let you know that the plan, while a huge step in the right direction, still leaves us with many unknowns.  

    As I shared, our district has established a Reopening Task Force made up of elementary, middle and high school representatives as well as district leadership.  They’re meeting each week to work through potential barriers we could face when school returns and, most importantly, ensure we will be able to keep our students and staff safe. 

    Start of the 2020-2021 School Year: 

    From our discussion, the Curriculum and Instruction Department has drafted four scenarios that could be carried out for the start of the 2020-2021 school year.  Again, at this point, these are all just possibilities, and our final plan may be a hybrid of two or more listed options. 

     

     

    Format

    Logistics

    Option 1

    All face-to-face

    • Return to school at full capacity with staff wearing masks and all students, staff and faculty members practicing proper social distancing 

    Option 2

    Alternating Remote/

    On-site Days

    • Staff is onsite and practicing proper safety measures.  This includes but would not be limited to staff remaining in their classrooms as much as possible and wearing masks whenever they interacted with other staff. 
    • No meetings would take place involving more than 10 people. 
    • Pre-K - 12th Grade: 
      • Classes would be split, with half of our students meeting in person one day and the other half meeting in person on the next day.  On the days when a student was not meeting in person, they would utilize at-home instruction. Fridays would be completely remote for all students. 
      • Classes would be split, with half of our students meeting in person one week and the other half meeting in person the next week.  On the weeks when a student was not meeting in person, they would utilize at-home instruction.
    • Lessons would be of a hybrid model.  Both asynchronous and synchronous lessons would be given and recorded for access outside of the regularly scheduled school day. 

    Option 3

    Pre-K -5th Grade on site and 6th -12th Grade remotely

    • Staff is onsite and practicing proper safety measures.  This includes but would not be limited to staff remaining in their classrooms as much as possible and wearing masks whenever they interacted with other staff. 
    • No meetings would take place involving more than 10 people.
    • Pre-K - 5th Grade instruction would occur in person on Asheville City Schools campuses. 
    • 6th - 12th Graders would continue to access at-home learning using Google classroom and CANVAS lessons. 

    Option 4

    All Remote

    • Staff is onsite and practicing proper safety measures.  This includes but would not be limited to staff remaining in their classrooms as much as possible and wearing masks whenever they interacted with other staff. 
    • No meetings would take place involving more than 10 people.
    • All lessons would be done remotely and would combine both asynchronous and synchronous instruction.  Understanding that many of our older students care for younger siblings or other family members, lessons would be recorded for access outside of the regularly scheduled school day. 

    The Governor’s Office and the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services NCDHHS, in consultation with the North Carolina State Board of Education and the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, will determine how schools can reopen safely for the 2020-21 school year based on the state’s COVID-19 metrics by July 1st, 2020.  Like school districts across the state, Asheville City Schools is busy preparing for the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year but also anxiously awaiting further guidance. 

    School Calendar: 

    Next year’s school calendar is one of the other items we’ve been looking at.  The North Carolina General Assembly has amended 2020-2021 calendars for all public school districts across the state.  According to Senate Bill 704, all districts must: 

     

    • Have a school calendar that remains at 215 days total. 
    • Increase the number of instructional hours their students receive by five days.  This means all calendars must now consist of either 1,055 hours or 190 days. 
    • Ensure their new calendar includes five remote instructional days.  Currently, remote instruction days cannot begin prior to August 24th. 
    • Name August 17, 2020 as their first day of school. 
    • End on or before June 11, 2021. 

    Of course, Asheville City Schools is included in this new mandate; therefore, we’ve altered our original 2020-2021 calendar that was approved by the Board of Education this past February.  After hearing from representatives from each of our schools, the district put together an amended calendar that will go before the Asheville City Board of Education for final approval on Tuesday, June 30th. 

    Additional Items: 

    Additional considerations we’re currently working through include but are not limited to: 

     

    • Transportation:  Each route could take two to three runs to complete, and buses would need to be cleaned between each run.  Therefore, questions we’re currently asking is how early would routes need to begin, and how late would each route run? 
    • Child Nutrition:  We are still unclear as to whether or not our School Nutrition Staff will be able to utilize the cafeteria.  If not, students would eat both breakfast and lunch in their classrooms each day. 
    • Maintenance:  Asheville City Schools has currently purchased 50,000 masks for students and staff to begin school in fall 2020.  However, because every school district across the country is too facing the lasting impacts of COVID-19, there could be difficulty in locating additional personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies as we need to replenish our supplies. 
    • Safety:  Because several of our campuses contain multiple entrances or several hallways each with their own unique set of doors, we’re examining how we can reduce the number of entries and cut down on the amount of times a door needs to be touched while still keeping our students and staff members safe. 

    Again, please know that this is not an exhaustive list but will give you an idea as to the types of scenarios our staff are currently working through.  Please know that my commitment is to keep you as informed as possible as more is known. 

    Thank you for your continued support of Asheville City Schools. 



  • June 11, 2020

    Good Afternoon Students, Staff and Families. This is Shane Cassida, Assistant Superintendent of Auxiliary Services, calling with an update about athletics. 

    As you may have heard, the North Carolina High School Athletic Association will lift its dead period starting Monday, June 15th.  This means Monday will be the first day student-athletes can begin practice statewide.  

    After meeting with each school’s athletic director and Buncombe County Health and Human Services, it’s been determined that our high school student-athletes can safely resume limited workouts beginning as early as next Tuesday, June 16th.  Middle school student-athletes will start back with practice on Monday, July 6th.  

    In order to make our return to play as safe as possible, please understand that all coaches will be meeting with parents prior to their child’s first day of practice.  Your child’s coach will be in touch with you individually about the time of your meeting.  In addition to going over guidelines from the North Carolina High School Athletic Association and Asheville City Schools, each team will share its detailed safety plan.  Parents will also receive a consent form, which must be signed before your child can participate in their first practice. 

    Additionally, please understand that although we will be having limited workouts, our student-athletes and coaches will be abiding by all social distancing protocols.  Practices will include no more than 25 students at a time, and each group of 25 will be divided into further practice pods of between five to 10 student-athletes.  Facilities that will be utilized include both Asheville High School and Asheville Middle School’ track and field as well as both Asheville High School and Asheville Middle School’s gym.  The weight rooms, locker rooms and mat rooms will not be used at this time. 

    Upon arrival, each athlete will have their temperature taken each and every day by a health professional.  Coaches, staff and managers will wear cloth face coverings at all times as well as maintain six feet of social distancing  Our student-athletes will also wear a face mask when they are not actively engaged in physical activity; face masks will not be worn during rigorous workouts because we don’t want to inhibit your child’s ability to breath, especially during running and high aerobic activity, but students will continue to maintain social distancing throughout practice.  If your child does not have a mask or forgets their mask at home, one will be provided for them. 

    In addition to our student-athletes and staff wearing personal protective equipment, please know that each location will have hand-washing stations for students and staff members to use.  Routine hand-washing will be practiced during each workout session. 

    Furthermore, we are asking parents to partner with us in discouraging your child from meeting with fellow student-athletes following practice.  We know and certainly understand their desire to be with their friends after so much time apart, but our top priority is keeping our students safe, and unfortunately, that means continuing to practice proper social distancing and limiting the amount of time we’re with people who do not live within our household. 

    Thank you for your continued support of Asheville City Schools and our Cougar Athletics.  I know this is not the ideal return, but we’re excited our student-athletes will have the opportunity to practice and prepare.  Should you or your family have any questions, please feel free to call (828) 350-6131.  Have a wonderful rest of your evening, and Cougar Pride!