School Board Q&A

The School Board has said that is is against CRT and that CRT is not being taught in Botetourt County.  What is the Board's response then to the Culturally Competent Virginia Educators Bill (SB 1196 & HB 1904) which was passed by the General Assembly and signed into law by the governor which requires teachers and other licensed school board employees to complete cultural competency training (CRT) no later than the beginning of the 2022-2023 school year?  Have these trainings already taken place? 

While the law went into effect July 1, 2021, applicants for a license will not need to meet these training requirements until further action is taken by the VDOE and the Board of Education.  The Virginia Board of Education is expected to issue guidance on establishing minimum standards for cultural competency training of employed and licensed educators no later than December 31, 2021.  Once this guidance has been provided, the BCPS School Board will consider the actions needed to fulfill the requirements of this legislation.  At this time, no trainings have taken place to meet this new requirement.  The current VDOE application for an initial license or a renewal of a Virginia license does not include this statutory ancillary requirement for a license.

What scientific proof do you have that forcing children to wear a mask that covers the mouth and nose for 6+ hours/day is safe?  Please provide evidence that supports the physical, developmental, social, emotional, and psychological growth of children? 

Botetourt County Public Schools (BCPS) has outlined mitigation strategies in our COVID_19 Health plan that are consistent with Public Health Orders issued by the State Health Commissioner on August 12, 2021.  The plan also outlines compliance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Virginia Department of Health (VDH, and current guidelines from the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE).  Universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students and visitors in K-12 schools is required and is a part of layered mitigation efforts that are put in place to reduce the likelihood of transmission within the public school setting.  Masks are not required while students are exercising, using exercise equipment, playing some musical instruments, while drinking or eating breakfast, lunch, or snack, while sleeping (during nap time for PK students), or while outside.  Other exceptions to the masking order exist and may be appropriate for some students under certain conditions.  Parents should contact their child's school to determine if an exception or reasonable accommodation would be appropriate.

More information on the use of masks can be found at:
https://www.vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus/cloth-face-covers

Additional CDC resources can be found at:
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/parent-faqs.html

For what reason(s) would a religious exemption for the wearing of a face covering (mask) be denied for a student?  What accommodations or restrictions would be placed on a student with a religious exemption to a face covering?

All requests for reasonable accommodations based on a sincerely held religious belief will be considered on an individual basis.  The school administration will consider a variety of information, including the documentation provided by the parent, the current school and community transmission rates, and the health and safety needs of students and staff when determining a reasonable accommodation to the masking order

Why is the school division no longer sending out notices of confirmed positive COVID cases in the schools? 

The school division is posting the number of confirmed COVID cases on the COVID Information website.  These figures are being updated each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday to keep our school community informed of confirmed cases in each school in our division.  Individual families are contacted directly by school personnel if a child has had close contact with an individual with COVID and provided with specific information regarding the exposure.  At this time, we do not have plans to notify the entire school population of each confirmed COVID case unless that family has been directly impacted.  We will continue to review this decision and make changes as necessary to our notification process. 

How is the school system handling medical or religious exemptions to the mask-wearing?

The school division will consider each request for a medical or religious mask exemption on an individual basis.  If a parent would like to request a reasonable accommodation based on a documented medical condition or sincerely held religious objection to the mask requirement, the parent may contact the school administration. The school administrator will provide the family with the form to make the request.  After submitting the form to the school administration, the request will be considered.  A decision will be made taking into account the details of the request, the supporting documentation provided, the unique needs of the student, the community and school transmission rates, along with any other relevant information provided by the school or the parent.  


With the rise in COVID cases in our area, will the schools start implementing health checks on students and faculty at the beginning of the day?

 

At this time, we are not implementing daily health checks at the schools but continue to require students and staff to conduct self-screenings prior to reporting to work or school each day.  BCPS will continue to consult with the health department and monitor current community and school transmission rates when making decisions with regard to any additional measures that may need to be implemented.  

What is the school board's plan in regards to the VDOE and the SEL standards?

The social and emotional well-being of our students is and will continue to be, a priority for our school division.  Although Virginia school divisions are not required to adopt the Social Emotional Guidance Standards provided but the VDOE, there will certainly be some that our school division will use.  We will make this decision based on the specific needs of our students.  Within the SEL Guidance Standards, there are resources provided to assist school divisions to instruct students in the areas of Self-AwarenessSelf-Management, Social Awareness, Relationship Skills, and Decision-Making.  Specific information regarding the SEL Standards can be found HERE.


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