Liberty Middle School Update

Liberty Middle School Update
Posted on 09/07/2020
News Article ImageSeptember 14, 2020 Update:

Good Afternoon LMS Families,

Thank you for your patience and flexibility this past week as we navigated the delayed opening of our building for in-person learning to provide for the health of our staff, students, and community.   While we regret this unplanned but necessary disruption, I am grateful that our staff was able to quickly shift to some remote learning options to begin the year’s journey with you on Thursday and Friday.  I am equally thankful for our custodial staff for their efforts to thoroughly clean our building.  

After consultation with the Hanover Health Department, Hanover County Public Schools has determined that face-to-face learning can begin at Liberty Middle School on Tuesday, September 15.  As a reminder, Monday, September 14 is a student holiday and teacher professional learning day.

Below are some important reminders as we prepare to welcome students back into our building.  Please keep this information handy for future reference.

Health and Safety Reminders

  • Check your student’s temperature and for any other signs of illness every morning.
  • DO NOT send your student to school if they display any signs of illness.
  • Masks are required at all times and should cover the nose and mouth, except when eating or drinking.
  • Pack extra hand sanitizer and a spare mask.
  • Remind your student(s) to maintain the greatest amount of social distancing possible and clean their hands frequently with soap and water or hand sanitizer.

Please read Health Services Coordinator Terry Woody's health and safety message.

Start and End Times

Middle and High Schools: 9:15 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

  • Arrival times are staggered between 8:45 a.m. and 9:15 a.m.
  • Departure times are staggered between 3:30 p.m. and 4:00 p.m.

Bus Transportation

  • Only families who have opted-in are permitted to use bus transportation.
  • Bus routes and schedules are available here.
  • Masks are required at all times on buses and in buildings.
  • One child per seat (unless students live in the same household).

Student Drop-off and Pick-up

  • Families who have not opted-in to bus service must transport their student(s) to and from school each day.
  • Traffic will be heavy. Please adhere to your assigned times to help limit congestion.

Food Service

  • Students will eat meals in their classroom, outside, or in large, open spaces.
  • Staggered meal pick-up from the cafeteria and mobile food carts with touchless payment.
  • View school menus here.
  • School meals are free for all students through at least December 31.
  • Add funds to your student’s lunch account for à la carte items here.

Stay Connected

  • Blackboard Connect – email, text, and phone notification system; receive important messages from your student’s school and the school division about events, closings, bus updates, and more.
  • Schoology – view your student’s classes and assignments; receive teacher and school announcements.
  • HCPS website – find up-to-date information on the division and the Return to Learn plan.
  • Social media – stay informed about division announcements, events, and more.
  • PowerSchool – view your student’s grades and attendance records.
  • MySchoolBucks – add funds to your student’s lunch account.
  • Online School Payments – pay students fees online (i.e. dues, parking, library, etc.)

Thank you for your continued patience, support, and understanding as we work to make the best decisions possible for our students, faculty, and staff.  We are looking forward to getting our school year underway.

Sincerely,

Mr. Donald Latham, Principal


September 9, 2020 Update:

The following was sent from Liberty Middle School Principal Donald Latham:

Good Afternoon LMS Families,

Thank you for your patience as we navigate this delayed opening to provide for the health of our staff, students, and community. Our staff enjoyed the opportunity to connect with you by phone to make sure that you are ready for the learning ahead, including resetting Schoology passwords.

At this time, Liberty Middle School will open on Thursday, September 10 (A Day) for remote learning only. Students will also participate in remote learning on Friday, September 11 (B Day). No students will attend classes in person on either day. Students will use their Schoology accounts to access class links to join their teachers and classmates for remote learning, following this bell schedule:

9:30-10:45 A1/B1
10:50-12:05 A2/B2
12:10-2:10 A3/B3
2:15-3:30 A4/B4

Once students login to Schoology, look for the A1 class and the teachers will have a zoom link to click on.

On Thursday and Friday, teachers will focus on the four core courses and electives only. When students have an ACE class listed on their schedule, the teacher will check in with the students, but this is not a required class these two days. In the abbreviated classes (LA-ext and MA-ext), teachers will focus class time on getting to know their students and working through activities that will support building relationships. Teachers will also use this time to support students with Schoology and accessing their class page.

As a reminder, Monday, September 14, is a student holiday and teacher professional learning day. We will provide more updates as we continue to work collaboratively with the Health Department to determine if in-person instruction can begin on Tuesday, September 15. We will communicate our plans for next week no later than Sunday, September 13.

Thank you for your continued patience, support, and understanding as we work to make the best decisions for our students, faculty, and staff. We are looking forward to getting our school year underway.
Sincerely,

Donald Latham
Principal

September 7, 2020 Message:

Dear Liberty Middle School Families, Faculty, and Staff,

Hanover County Public Schools and Liberty Middle School (LMS) wish to do everything reasonably possible to keep you informed about health concerns and related decisions connected to our schools. As a result, I have an important message to share with you.

After close consultation with Hanover Health Department officials and careful consideration, I have made the difficult and necessary decision to close LMS through Wednesday, September 9 to protect the health and safety of all students, faculty, and staff. No instruction will occur on Tuesday, September 8 or Wednesday, September 9 for LMS students. More details will be forthcoming from Mr. Latham regarding our plans for remote instruction for Thursday, September 10 and Friday September 11. As a reminder, Monday, September 14 is a student holiday.

Why is LMS temporarily closing?

Yesterday afternoon, we learned that three employees at LMS tested positive for COVID-19. Since that time, we have been working closely with the Hanover Health Department to assist with contact tracing in order to notify staff members who were possibly exposed to these individuals. The individuals who tested positive are in isolation, and those who were possibly exposed will remain in quarantine for 14 days, as required by official health guidance.

Currently, there are at least 15 staff members who may have been exposed. Health department officials believe that other LMS and HCPS staff members who have been inside LMS over the past two weeks may be at risk, and they are continuing their investigation.

Due to this level of uncertainty, health officials believe that there is a significant risk for the spread of COVID-19 within LMS from person to person. As a result, health officials indicate that a delayed opening will assist with further identifying other individuals (through testing) who may have COVID-19 and help to prevent the further spread of the illness within LMS. This will also allow our custodial staff to conduct a thorough cleaning of the building.

What are the plans to resume instruction?

We are hopeful that we will be able to offer remote instruction later this week, possibly on Thursday, September 10. Mr. Latham will communicate more details as quickly as possible. This will depend upon the progress that health and school officials are able to make in identifying and testing all individuals who may have been inside of LMS over the past two weeks for COVID-19. This is a time-consuming process.

With regard to resuming in-person instruction, we will continue to work closely with the Hanover Health Department to evaluate all available data to determine if it is safe to reopen LMS next week. We will communicate our plans for next week as quickly as possible, but no later than Sunday, September 13.

Does your plan account for positive COVID-19 cases?

Yes. Our health plan assumes positive COVID-19 cases will occur, and HCPS coordinates our response with the Chickahominy Health District. This includes plans for shifting to remote learning when necessary. In cases where teachers need to quarantine, we will equip them with the technology necessary to instruct their students remotely by video stream while students remain in the classroom. If this is not possible, we will utilize substitute teachers or other qualified school division staff to provide classroom instruction.

In cases where the spread of illness is not believed to be contained to a specific classroom or area, and a large number of individuals are believed to be affected, it may be necessary to temporarily close the building and pivot to remote instruction.

Will I receive notifications of every positive COVID-19 case within my student’s school?

Yes. Our health plan, developed in partnership with state and local health experts, calls for notifications to only be made to individuals identified through contact tracing. However, we believe that it is our responsibility to keep you informed of all positive cases that impact our building.

We plan to provide same-day notification to all staff, students, and families of positive COVID-19 cases within their building, as confirmed by the Hanover Health Department, via our Blackboard Connect email notification system and Schoology. In all cases, we will work collaboratively with the Hanover Health Department, which will communicate directly with anyone it believes may require further evaluation.

We understand this is disruptive, especially as we begin the school year, and we sincerely apologize for this unplanned but necessary decision. The health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff is our highest priority in every decision we make, and we ask for your grace, patience, and understanding during these challenging times.

If you have any questions related to COVID-19, please feel free to contact the Chickahominy Health District Coronavirus hotline during regular business hours (M-F, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) at 804-365-3340. If you have any school-specific questions, please contact Mr. Latham.

Sincerely,

Dr. Michael Gill, Superintendent of Schools

Mrs. Jennifer Greif, Assistant Superintendent of Instructional Leadership/Chief Academic Officer

Dr. Robert Staley, Director of Secondary Instruction

Mrs. Terry Woody, Health Services Coordinator
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