August 13, 2021
Yesterday, Governor Northam announced a statewide requirement to wear masks indoors in K-12 schools. As this order is now effective, it will impact our plans for our back to school events scheduled for next week. We had originally planned for masks to be optional for our students, staff, and guests until the opening of school on Monday August 23. Now, they are required immediately.
Over the past several weeks, I have had the pleasure to communicate with our school community through email messages, phone calls, and meetings in multiple settings. I appreciate your engagement in the work of our division and respect your advocacy for our community’s children. Please know that your voice is heard. At their meeting on Tuesday night, the School Board adopted revised legislative positions intended to reaffirm their position regarding local control. The School Board and I will continue to advocate for local autonomy on issues impacting Goochland County students, staff, and families.
For now, we focus our efforts on making plans to ensure our students have the best possible experience they can have in our schools beginning August 23. With our students in-person five days a week, we will be able to provide the high-quality, engaging learning experiences that our students deserve and our families have come to expect. Our core value of excellence will be on display inside and outside of our classrooms as our talented instructional team provides students with all of the amazing learning opportunities they have had in the past. There is no doubt we will have our best year ever!
As a reminder, there will be times and locations where students and staff will be able to remove their masks during the school day. This summer, we invested in additional outdoor learning and dining spaces to allow for students and staff to remove their masks during the school day. For example, students and staff will not wear masks while eating or drinking and will not be required to wear masks while exercising or while outdoors.
Here are a few reminders and updates as we close our week:
GCPS has developed a strong collaboration with the Chickahominy Health District to support vaccination efforts, and we are committed to continuing this relationship in the future. We will partner with the Health District to hold another COVID vaccination clinic at Goochland High School on August 18 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Students will also have the opportunity to receive the Tdap and meningococcal vaccines at this clinic. This clinic will be open to all students and adults who are interested. More information about this clinic can be found here.
Request for Medical Exemption
Families who are requesting a medical exemption to wearing a mask will be required to complete this form, signed by a physician, to be sent to their school nurse. Once this form is received, nurses will work in collaboration with families to develop an individualized health plan, if applicable.
In all of the conversations I have had with multiple parents, citizens, and staff over the past several weeks, there have been many perspectives regarding the start of the school year. Although varied in many ways, there has been one common and consistent theme: doing what is best for OUR community’s children. As we count down to the next school year, I hope we can ALL unite and rally around starting the school year with an optimistic and positive tone to set the stage for our division’s best year ever. As you have in the past, please feel free to reach out to me (firstname.lastname@example.org; 804-556-5601) if you have any questions, concerns, or ideas. Have a great weekend!
Yours in Service,
Jeremy J. Raley, Ed.D.