How will Asheville City Schools begin school for students on August 23rd?
- All students, Pre-K thru 12th Grade, will receive in-person, direct instruction from their classroom teachers five days a week beginning Monday, August 23rd.
- Asheville City Schools will continue to have a strong focus on implementing health and safety measures for our students and staff. We will continue to collaborate with Buncombe County Health and Human Services as well as follow all guidance from Governor Cooper and the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction.
Will Asheville City Schools have Meet the Teacher events prior to the 2021-2022 school year?
- Yes. Our schools are organizing their meet the teacher events based on their space and school community. More information will be coming from your child’s school directly. However, please know Asheville City Schools WILL NOT be hosting large, school-wide, indoor gatherings, as they do not allow for proper social distancing.
Who is required to wear a mask?
- Asheville City Schools WILL continue to follow state guidance concerning masks, social distancing as well as other health and safety protocols. As these guidelines are updated at the state level, ACS will make adjustments.
- Pre-K thru 12th Grade: In alignment with the CDC and Buncombe County Health and Human Services’ recommendations for universal masking, all Pre-K thru 12th Graders WILL be required to wear face coverings consistently while inside during the school day regardless of a student’s vaccination status.
- Student-athletes will be required to wear face coverings while they are not actively engaged in rigorous physical activity.
- Staff: All staff, both school-based and district-wide support, WILL be required to wear face coverings consistently while inside during the school day regardless of their vaccination status.
- Face coverings WILL be required indoors by all individuals - including students, staff, visitors, children ages two or older, etc. - unless an exception applies.
Will face coverings be required when students/staff are outside?
- In alignment with our 2020-2021 end of the year Return to Learn Updates, students and staff (Pre-K thru 12th Grade) WILL NOT be required to wear face coverings when they are outside for recess, PE or when learning in an outdoor classroom.
- However, student-athletes WILL be required to wear face coverings while they are not actively engaged in rigorous physical activity, regardless of whether they are practicing indoors or outdoors. The only exception to this would be if student-athletes are outside and, at least, six feet apart.
Will face coverings be required when students are riding the school bus?
- In alignment with the Toolkit and CDC requirements, all students, Pre-K thru 12th Grade, WILL be required to wear face coverings on school buses. (Toolkit Page 20)
- The Toolkit specifies ages 5 & up; however, our Preschool Program has made the local decision to include Pre-K students in the Toolkit recommendations, as it’s challenging for staff to enforce separate protocols while in the same school bus.
- If a student forgets their mask at home, one will be given to them by the driver as they step onto the school bus.
Will schools supply masks?
- Masks WILL be available for students who need them. Students are also invited to wear their own, which may be more comfortable for some students.
Will ACS require students and/or staff to receive the COVID-19 vaccine before school starts?
- Asheville City Schools supports our health department in sharing vaccine appointment information.
- Vaccination is currently the leading public health prevention strategy to end the COVID-19 pandemic. (Toolkit Page 2)
- People who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 are at low risk of symptomatic or severe illness, including hospitalization or death. (Toolkit Page 7)
- A growing body of evidence suggests that people who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 are also less likely to have an asymptomatic infection or transmit COVID-19 to others than people who are not fully vaccinated. (Toolkit Page 7)
- And, as a resource for our students, staff and families, the district has hosted two vaccine clinics, in which all North Carolinians ages 12+ were invited to attend. However, at this time, Asheville City Schools is NOT requiring our students or staff to receive a COVID-19 vaccine prior to the start of the 2021-2022 school year. Additional information about the vaccines that are required can be found in Board Policy 4110.
Will Asheville City Schools be conducting daily symptom screening?
- Overall, Asheville City Schools will NO LONGER be conducting daily symptom screenings. Instead, we are asking families and staff to self monitor for COVID-19 symptoms, which include:
- Fever (Temperature of 100.4° Fahrenheit or higher)
- Sore Throat
- Cough (for people with chronic cough due to allergies or asthma, a change in their cough from baseline)
- Difficulty breathing (for people with asthma, a change from their baseline breathing)
- New loss of taste or smell
- Diarrhea or vomiting
- New onset of severe headache, especially with a fever
- Students, teachers and staff who have symptoms of COVID-19, should stay home and be referred to their healthcare provider for testing and further care. (Toolkit Page 14)
What will happen if my child has been deemed a close contact to someone who COVID-19?
- If a student, teacher or staff member has been deemed a close contact to a positive COVID-19 person or if they self report COVID-19 symptoms:
- Asheville City Schools will refer the individual to diagnostic testing.
- Please know, Asheville City Schools DOES offer free rapid (antigen) testing on-site at school to facilitate quick COVID-19 diagnosis and inform school staff if a student may be able to stay in school.
- Buncombe County Health and Human Services will complete the contact tracing and work with schools to determine when the student or staff member can return to in-person learning.
What should I do if I think I may have COVID-19?
- All students, staff and faculty presumed to have or are diagnosed with COVID-19 MUST stay home until they meet the criteria for return to school. Staying home when sick is essential to preventing the spread of COVID-19 to others as well as keeping COVID-19 infections out of our schools. (Toolkit Page 14)
- It is also essential for people who are not fully vaccinated to quarantine after a recent close contact to someone with COVID-19. (Toolkit Page 14)
What will a school do if there is a confirmed positive case of COVID-19?
- If your child has been identified as a close contact, school administrators or staff WILL continue to call families personally impacted, regardless of the day of the week.
- Parents WILL also be promptly notified should there ever be a cluster, which the CDC identifies as five or more confirmed cases within a 14-day period with a potential connection in time and place, on their child’s campus.
How will Asheville City Schools ensure three feet of physical distancing?
- Desks or tables are spaced three feet apart, and interactions closer than three feet will be limited.
- The Toolkit says that schools are to maintain “three feet of distance between K-12 students who are not fully vaccinated within school settings to the greatest extent possible.” (Toolkit Page 11)
Will students continue to learn in small cohorts?
- At the discretion of the teacher/depending on your child’s age, small groups will continue to be utilized as a vital teaching tool. However, students will NO LONGER exclusively learn with those in their small cohort. Whole class instruction will resume.
Will Asheville City Schools have a 100% virtual learning model for the 2021-2022 school year?
- Asheville City Schools will use our Homebound Services for any family requesting that their child not attend school in-person due to medical reasons, including those students who have a condition considered high-risk for COVID-19. Please know a medical documentation page will be required in order to utilize this process.
- For students who will be out of school for at least a semester, ACS has contracted with a remote learning provider to provide instructional services to students (K-8: Edgenuity, 9-12: NCVPS). This will provide additional support for students above and beyond our typical homebound services. Additional information about our Remote Learning Provider can be found here.
- If you are requesting this process for your child, please contact their school for the required paperwork for Homebound services.
Will Asheville City Schools be allowing outside organizations on school campuses?
- As we begin the 2021-2022 school year, outside organizations will have limited access to our school buildings.
- During the school day, they WILL be permitted to come to campus if they are part of the curriculum and stay outside.
- Following the traditional school day, afterschool programs that Asheville City Schools currently have a Memorandum of Understanding with WILL be permitted on campus as long as they follow Asheville City Schools’ COVID safety protocols.
What are Asheville City Schools’ current facility rentals protocols?
- At this time, Asheville City Schools is limiting its facility rentals to just outside organizations the district currently has a Memorandum of Understanding with.
Will my child be able to go on a field trip?
- Outdoor field trips WILL be permitted.
Will large gatherings/assemblies occur?
- ACS will NOT be hosting large, school-wide, indoor gatherings, as they do not allow for proper social distancing. Only assemblies where three feet can be maintained for students and six feet for adults will be considered.
As we begin the 2021-2022 school year, what will be Asheville City Schools’ visitor procedures?
- During the first nine weeks, Asheville City Schools will limit nonessential visitors and activities involving external groups or organizations.
- Parents WILL NOT be permitted to walk their child to the classroom.
- Unless otherwise instructed, visitors will be limited to the front office.
- If a visitor is attending a previously arranged meeting, they should go directly to the meeting space.
- All visitors must follow each campus’ COVID safety protocols.
Will students and staff be able to use their school’s drinking fountains?
- As we begin the 2021-2022 school year, drinking fountain spouts will continue to be are disabled. The water bottling refilling feature will be available, and we are encouraging students and staff to bring reusable water bottles. If a student or staff member does not have a reusable water bottle or forget theirs at home, cups will be available.
Will my child continue to receive free breakfasts and lunches at no cost?
- The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced that our district WILL be able to continue serving free meals to all students for the 2021 - 2022 school year.
How do I make sure my child is signed up to ride the bus?
- Starting this Fall, families will only need to complete a bus request form if they’re new to the district, have moved or their child is a rising Kindergartener, Sixth Grader or 9th Grader. ALL other students will still have their same bus assignment from the 2020-2021 school year. In order to be eligible for bus services by the first day of school, which is Monday, August 23rd, new requests should be completed no later than Thursday, August 12th. The bus request form can be found here.