Why change the start/end times for the elementary, middle and high school?

First and foremost, RCPS must respect the recommendations of social distancing, closing or staggering of communal spaces, and restricting mixing groups of students and/or large group gatherings (Centers for Disease Control, Virginia Department of Health, Virginia Department of Education).  Due to the age and the number of the students attending Belle Heth Elementary for the 2020-2021 school year, if times were not changed, supervision in the morning and during the afternoon bus wait would be necessary thus placing students in large numbers in communal spaces.  


RCPS wants to avoid having students wait in large groups or in communal spaces and therefore, will have all elementary students report directly to their assigned classroom upon entering.  There will be no traditional waiting room of large groups of children.  This will be the same practice in the afternoon.  Students will exit the building to immediately board buses and those students waiting for the 2nd route will remain in their classroom. 


Buses were a big factor in this decision as both the McHarg population and the Belle Heth population will be on the Belle Heth campus.  Due to the ridership of one campus, most of our buses will have to complete 2 runs of children.  It is imperative to release the first round of routes as promptly as possible so that students who are assigned to the second run would have less time to wait an avoid the need for communal waiting areas.  Having buses report to Belle Heth first eliminates the chance that they would be delayed due to problems during the middle/high school run.  Basically it is necessary for the buses to report to Belle Heth first to make all runs more efficient. 


Why the early start with the 2020-2021 calendar? 

During the shutdown, many different dates and scenarios were being discussed by the Virginia Department of Education regarding when we will be able to return to school.  To gain the community’s feedback about general start and end dates, a survey went to parents of all four RCPS school communities in April.  The results are as follows:


Question:  If RCPS is permitted to open the 2020-2021 school year in August, 2020 which calendar start/end dates do you prefer?



Start in early August and end in early June.

Start in mid-August and end in mid-June.

Start in late August and end in late June.

McHarg Elementary




Belle Heth Elementary




Dalton Intermediate




Radford High School





The calendar begins in early August and ends in late May.  The first semester ends prior to the winter break.  


Why not put end the semester on the 18th of December and bring back students on January 4, 2021?   

RCPS students and teachers lost 51 days of direct instruction in 2019-2020.  Although concepts, skills, and assignments were pushed out through the Continuity of Learning, RCPS knows that less than 50% of students accessed the site.  New instruction was embedded in the lessons that were offered virtually.  This new instruction supported the foundation students need to successfully access new standards, concepts and skills.  Without that learning, students will return with a lack of the foundation needed to find success in the next year or course. 


The 2020-2021 school year has a total of 188 instructional days built in to support lost instruction, new instruction, the transition time needed to “re-enter” students and time to help students navigate both online instruction and face-to-face.  The 188 days must be divided to make 4 quarters of 47 days.  The semester must be 94 days and to complete it by winter break, capturing December 21st and December 22nd was necessary.  The winter break is the same amount of time (10 days) as it has been historically.  We do not know what the flu season holds and the goal is that our students complete one semester before we leave for winter break.


What is the difference between remote learning (Virtual Radford) and online learning?

“Virtual Radford” is a remote learning system where the learner and instructor, or source of information, are separated by time and distance and therefore cannot meet in a traditional classroom setting.  There is a teacher managing the system and offering office hours, but less interaction with the instructor is to be expected.  There is no face-to-face instruction.  All courses, K-12, can be accessed through the online program, “Virtual Radford.” 


Traditional Learning in Radford for the 2020-2021 will most likely be a combination of both face-to-face learning and online learning making it a “hybrid” model.  Each student will have a home room or a schedule of classes attached to a teacher or teachers and will receive “live” instruction as well as online instruction.   We are hopeful that a hybrid schedule can be implemented at the beginning of school and our students will sooner than later return to the traditional face-to-face model.   


If I want to enroll my child in “Virtual Radford,” but then enroll them in the traditional learning model of all face-to-face once we are beyond phase III, can I?    

Radford City Public Schools accepts the enrollment of all students in the hybrid or traditional learning model at any time.