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RPS Release Official School Day Changes

Hall with clock
With students learning from home in efforts to reduce potential COVID-19 transmission, students are spending more time on screens than ever before. Richmond Public Schools adjusted their schedules to help alleviate this. (Photo: Crixell Matthews/VPM News)

After weeks of public input, Richmond Public Schools finalized the updates to their school day schedules. RPS made the change in an attempt to decrease screen time for students.

Superintendent Jason Kamras sent out the new scheduleWednesday in an email and later that evening broke them down during a Facebook Live event. Kamras said the changes will go into effect on October 20.

“I know folks want to get going right away,” he said, “but… we do want to make sure we spend some time to get the word out, make sure we really do a good job communicating this to everybody.”

For students in kindergarten through second grade, live, online instruction will now end by 1:30 p.m., effectively shortening the school day by an hour. 

Students in third through fifth grade will also shed about an hour from their school day, which will now end at 2 p.m., instead of 3:30 p.m. 

Elementary school teachers will have a planning period following the school day. This period will last until 4 p.m. The district said they prioritized planning time when revising the schedules.

Lunch periods for elementary school students will be shortened from one hour to 30 minutes. This was a point of disagreement for the School Board, who on Monday waived their vote, giving Kamras final authority to amend the schedules.

For middle school students, each class has been shortened by 10 to 15 minutes, cutting about an hour from the overall, virtual school day. Students will also gain an extra five minutes between classes. 

All elementary and middle school students will have the option to receive additional, specialized support after their school day, provided by teachers, counselors, tutors and social workers.

For high schoolers, live, online instruction will pause at 11 a.m., giving way to asynchronous learning until 12:30 p.m., then lunch until 1 p.m. After lunch, synchronous learning continues until 2:40 p.m., followed by another period of asynchronous instruction, ending the official school day at 4:10 p.m.

“Asynchronous work can be completed by students during the scheduled time or at another time in the evening,” the school district says in its new plans. RPS said creating flexibility for students with jobs was a top priority when revising high school schedules.

“We heard the feedback. Our principals, our families, our teachers. We heard it loud and clear as we started the year that we needed to make some changes,” said Autumn Nabors, Director of the Curriculum and Instruction Department, on Wednesday.


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