• April 30, 2021

    Good Afternoon Students, Staff and Families.  This is Ashley-Michelle Thublin, Executive Director of Communications. 

    I’m calling to let you know that there will be a change in procedures with how positive COVID-19 cases are communicated.  

    Instead of making phone calls each time Buncombe County Health and Human Services identifies a positive case, principals will make one phone call and send one email to the entire school community each Wednesday.  

    This recommended change in communications protocols comes from our school nurses and Buncombe County Health and Human Services and will begin on Monday, May 3rd, with the first date principals may call being next Wednesday, May 5th.  

    Please know communication will only go out if there is a new confirmed case.  Again, if there are no new confirmed cases associated with your child’s campus, their principal will not send communications out on Wednesday afternoon.  

    Despite these changes, please know that if your child has been identified as a close contact, school administrators or nurses will continue to call families personally impacted, regardless of the day of the week.

    Additionally, parents will be promptly notified should there ever be a cluster, which the CDC identifies as five or more confirmed cases within a 14-day period with a potential connection in time and place, on their child’s campus.  

    This change is how we will communicate positive COVID-19 cases moving forward.  

    Additionally, we wanted to let you know that our Health Director, Stacie Saunders, has said that as of Monday, May 3rd, face coverings will no longer be required outdoors while at school.  In compliance with this new recommendation and in accordance with the most recent executive order from Governor Cooper, students and staff will not be required to wear face coverings when they are outside for recess, PE or when learning in an outdoor classroom.  However, Asheville City Schools will continue to encourage students and staff to wear face coverings while outside at their own discretion.  And, face coverings are still required in all indoor school settings.  


    Thank you for your continued support of Asheville City Schools.  We believe public health is a shared responsibility, and it’s one our district takes seriously.  That’s why our schools will continue to practice safety protocols outlined in the Strong Schools Toolkit.  We appreciate you taking the time to review these important protocols with your student to ensure that we have a healthy school community.

  • April 1, 2021 

    Good Afternoon Students, Staff and Families.  This is Ashley-Michelle Thublin, Executive Director of Communications. 

    Today’s temperatures may have you thinking we’re in the midst of winter, but Asheville City Schools’ Spring Break officially begins tomorrow.  The district will be closed from Friday, April 2nd - Friday, April 9th.  

    We hope you enjoy your time away and look forward to seeing you either in person or remotely on Monday, April 12th.  Don’t forget, it will be the first day our Kindergarten - 5th Grade transitions to Plan A, which means all elementary students who have opted to return to campus for in-person learning will attend every week starting April 12th.  That Monday also marks a Blue Week for our 6th - 12th Graders. 

    As a follow-up to last week’s Return to Learn Update, please know that, upon our return from Spring Break, Asheville City Schools will continue to follow the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services’ StrongSchoolsNC Public Health Toolkit (K-12), and the ACS Parent & Staff COVID-19 Handbook will continue to be updated to reflect changes in protocols.  Listed below are important updates that will go into effect following Spring Break:

    • Students will continue to wear face coverings unless they are eating.
    • While it is no longer required to ask students health screening questions each morning, Asheville City Schools staff will continue to do so, as we believe this has been key in keeping our schools as safe and healthy as possible.  
    • We are now required to exclude any individual who reports or presents with any of the following symptoms:
      • Fever of 100.4 F or above
      • Sore throat
      • Cough (for people with chronic cough due to asthma or allergies, a change from baseline)
      • Difficulty breathing (for people with asthma, a change from baseline)
      • New loss of taste
      • New loss of smell
      • Diarrhea
      • Vomiting
      • New onset of severe headache (especially with fever)
    • We will no longer exclude individuals with the following symptoms:
      •  Chills (although this is often associated with fever)
      • Shortness of breath 
    • While NCDHHS has eased social distancing requirements, we will continue to maintain six feet of physical distance at the secondary level and to the greatest extent possible once elementary schools transition to Plan A.  Under Plan A, our elementary schools will continue to maintain six feet of physical distance in common areas such as hallways, the gym and outdoor learning spaces.  There may be some elementary classrooms where students are seated closer together (two to three feet apart) due to the number of students we have returning. 
    • We will maintain at least six feet of spacing between people when masks cannot be worn, such as when students are eating lunch.  Outdoor spaces will be utilized as much as possible.  
    • The ACS Parent & Staff COVID-19 Handbook has been updated to reflect these changes. 

    Also, as a reminder, if your child attends one of the community-based PODS, hours will be the following beginning Monday, April 12th: 

    • Arthur R. Edington Education & Career Center:  8:00 AM - 6:00 PM 
    • Burton Street Community Center:  8:00 AM - 6:00 PM 
    • Delta House:  8:00 AM - 2:30 PM  
    • Hillcrest Community Center:  8:00 AM - 1:30 PM  
    • Hillcrest Headstart:  8:00 AM - 1:30 PM 
    • Montford Community Center:  8:00 AM - 6:00 PM 
    • My Daughter Taught Me That:  8:00 AM - 1:30 PM 
    • Pisgah View Apartments Children First:  only after-school from 1:30 - 4:30 PM 
    • Pisgah View Apartments Community Center:  8:00 AM - 1:30 PM 
    • Stephens Lee Community Center:  8:00 AM - 6:00 PM 
    • Western Carolina Rescue Mission:  8:00 AM - 1:30 PM
    • Wesley Grant Center:  only after-school from 1:30 - 6:00 PM

    This year’s time to rest and recharge is certainly well deserved.  However, even when you’re away from campus, it’s important to remain diligent in following CDC and health department guidelines.  That way, we can finish the school year strong and keep our entire Cougar family safe & healthy.

  • March 30, 2021 

    Good Afternoon Students, Staff and Families.  This is Ashley-Michelle Thublin, Executive Director of Communications.  

    After receiving a few questions, I wanted to let you know that most community-based PODS will be continuing for the remainder of this school year.  However, with much of its staff returning to support in-person instruction at our schools, please know the Wesley Grant Center will be closing its learning POD following Spring Break.  After-school programming at the Wesley Grant Center will continue from 1:30 - 6:00 PM.  

    If your child currently attends the PODS Program at the Grant Center, Asheville City Schools’ Executive Director of Student Support Services, Mrs. Kidada Wynn, will be calling your family individually to find out whether you would like for your child to return to in-person learning at school or transfer to another community-based POD.  

    Beginning Monday, April 12th, PODS hours will be as follows: 

    • Arthur R. Edington Education & Career Center:  8:00 AM - 6:00 PM 
    • Burton Street Community Center:  8:00 AM - 6:00 PM 
    • Delta House:  8:00 AM - 1:30 PM  
    • Hillcrest Community Center:  8:00 AM - 1:30 PM  
    • Hillcrest Headstart:  8:00 AM - 1:30 PM 
    • Montford Community Center:  8:00 AM - 6:00 PM 
    • My Daughter Taught Me That:  8:00 AM - 1:30 PM 
    • Pisgah View Apartments Children First:  8:00 AM - 1:30 PM 
    • Pisgah View Apartments Community Center:  8:00 AM - 1:30 PM 
    • Stephens Lee Community Center:  8:00 AM - 6:00 PM 
    • Western Carolina Rescue Mission:  8:00 AM - 1:30 PM
    • Wesley Grant Center:  only after-school programming from 1:30 - 6:00 PM 

    Thank you for your continued support, and should you have additional inquiries about the PODS Program, please respond to this message or email kidada.wynn@acsgmail.net.

  • March 26, 2021 

    Good Afternoon Students, Staff and Families.  This is Ashley-Michelle Thublin, Executive Director of Communications, with a few Return to Learn Updates. 

    On Wednesday, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services updated the StrongSchoolsNC Public Health Toolkit (K-12).  This comes as state metrics continue to improve and the CDC releases updated guidance for school operations during the pandemic.  

    Although the latest update says daily symptom screenings are no longer required, at this time, Asheville City Schools is NOT changing its COVID-19 protocols or procedures.  While NCDHHS has eased social distancing requirements, we will continue to maintain six feet of physical distance at the secondary level and whenever possible in elementary schools once they transition to Plan A.  

    As a district, we use the toolkit to guide and support health and safety decisions; however, in this case, we will continue to take a more cautious approach.  

    Additionally, as our district transitions to in-person instruction, our staff have received quite a few frequently asked questions.  Thanks to your inquiries, our FAQ webpage has been updated.  

    Question:  I understand that the district is moving to Plan A for Kindergarten - 5th Graders on April 12th.  Will my child’s elementary school continue to dismiss early as opposed to the traditional 2:30 PM? 

    • Yes.  Our elementary school dismissal time will remain at 1:30 PM even after the district moves to Plan A.  In order to screen all students and staff members prior to the day’s in-person lessons, our elementary staff members are arriving on campus by 7:00 AM, which is earlier than ever before.  Dismissing in-person students at the same time as those learning remotely creates consistency and allows our educators to support all within their classroom regardless of where they are receiving instruction.  Ending the school day at 1:30 PM also maximizes instructional time, which is especially important because our students are wearing masks and sitting at their desks for much of the school day, and is the same procedure that has been in place since the 2020-2021 school year began.  Additionally, with elementary students remaining in their classrooms, even during specials, many educators do not have a dedicated planning time during the school day.  

    Question:  What occurs on each school’s campus during the asynchronous learning day? 

    • Asynchronous learning days provide maintenance staff members with additional time to deep clean buildings and outdoor learning spaces.
    • Asynchronous learning days also allow teachers to check-in with students, offer small groups and hold “office hours” dedicated to offering individualized support.  Staff will also use this time to problem solve, plan and analyze data with their Professional Learning Communities.

    Question:  Is attendance still taken during asynchronous learning days? 

    • Yes.  Attendance is taken during asynchronous learning days.  Similar to other asynchronous learning days that have taken place this school year, students should complete their attendance form on all asynchronous learning days.

    Question:  My middle schooler has an individualized education plan.  Can they attend school on both Blue and Green Weeks?  

    • At this time, Asheville City Schools 6th - 12th Graders will continue to learn under Plan B.  However, starting April 12th, all students with an IEP (Individual Education Plan) or 504 will have the option to receive instruction under Plan A.  This means they will be able to attend school both weeks, at the discretion of their parents/guardians. Middle and high school staff will contact all families of students with an IEP or 504 to determine if they would like to return on both Blue and Green Weeks. 

    Question:  Has the district determined its summer school offerings? 

    • We are currently waiting on additional information from NCDPI and the state legislature before finalizing summer programming. At this time, we are planning for summer programming for elementary, middle and high school students. Credit Recovery for high school students will be offered this summer. Information about summer programming opportunities will be shared with families as soon as possible. 

    Question:  What will the 2021-2022 school year look like? 

    • With the health and safety of our students and staff driving our decisions, Asheville City Schools will continue to collaborate with Buncombe County Health and Human Services and the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction when planning for the 2021-2022 school year.  At this time, the district is anticipating that we will be able to begin next school year under Plan A for all students Kindergarten - 12 Grade.  

    As additional questions arise, please continue to email me at ashley.thublin@acsgmail.net.  Have a wonderful evening, and thank you for your continued support. 

  • March 26, 2021 

    Good Afternoon Students, Staff and Families.  This is Ashley-Michelle Thublin, Executive Director of Communication, with an update about our Food Distribution Sites. 

    Today was the final day our community partners at YMCA will be delivering grab-and-go meals to Pisgah View Apartments and Hillcrest Apartments for the remainder of this school year.  

    However, please know that our School Nutrition Staff will continue greeting families with a smile and delicious grab-and-go meal at either Asheville Middle School, Lucy S. Herring Elementary School or Isaac Dickson Elementary School.  As a reminder, all three of our school-based drive-thru sites are open from 11:00 AM - 1:00 PM.  And, every child ages 18 and under is eligible to receive breakfast and lunch at absolutely no cost to their families.  So, certainly, keep them in mind when planning your child’s remote learning schedule.

    Once again, we want to offer our sincere thanks and appreciation to YMCA.  With their help, our School Nutrition Staff have been able to deliver more than 320,000 meals since March 2020. 

    Have a wonderful weekend, and thank you for your continued support.

  •  

    February 12, 2021

    On Tuesday, February 2nd, Governor Cooper strongly urged public schools to allow students back in the classroom.  The Governor also stated that students should have the option of remote learning for the remainder of the year. After weighing multiple factors including the strong recommendation of Governor Cooper and stakeholder input, Asheville City Schools students will have the option to return to in-person under Plan B. 

    Gov. Cooper announced on Feb. 10th that teachers will have access to vaccines beginning on Feb. 24th.  With that said, ACS is moving forward with plans to bring staff and students to campus, following CDC guidelines, and will continue to work with the local health department to coordinate vaccines for staff as soon as possible. 

    ACS Leadership’s goals for providing the in-person option is to help reorient students to learning in school buildings, to mitigate the negative social/emotional impacts of remote learning, and to establish a sense of normalcy for our staff, students and families before the end of the school year.

    Under Plan B, students will be assigned to either the Blue Group or Green Group and attend in-person Monday through Thursday on alternating weeks with an asynchronous learning day on Friday for teacher planning and student check-ins. On in-person days, the instructional day for students in grades K-5 will run from 8:00 AM - 1:30 PM and the instructional day for students in grades 6-12 will run from 9:00 AM - 2:30 PM.

    Students who elect to return in-person will return over several weeks beginning March 8 based on grade level:

      • Grades K-2nd:  March 8 (Blue)  or March 15 (Green) 
      • Grades 3rd-5th, 6th, and 9th:  March 22 (Blue) or March 29 (Green)
      • Grades 7th, 10th-12th:  March 24 (Blue) or March 31 (Green)
      • Grade 8th: March 25 (Blue) or April 1 (Green)

     

     

    Parents will indicate their preference for returning to in-person instruction or staying fully remote on a survey.  Families who indicate that they are planning to stay in fully remote learning are committing to that option for the remainder of the 2020-2021 school year. The return survey will be shared following board approval on Monday, February 15th and will be due on Friday, February 19th.

    Asheville City Schools is committed to following all CDC guidelines required for Plan B as outlined in the Strong Schools NC Public Health Toolkit (K-12). We have proper personal protective equipment (PPE), safety supplies, and cleaning supplies readily available to support schools in their transition back to in-person learning. Our school nurses are working with school administrators to provide up to date COVID information and training for each campus prior to students transitioning back to campus. In addition, each school will provide a safety training that is unique to their school community. 

    District leadership from the Curriculum & Instruction, Student Services, Safety, Food and Nutrition, & Transportation departments have been working with school administrators to finalize the DRAFT ACS Return to In-Person Learning Overview and DRAFT ACS COVID-19 Handbook. The plan and handbook include many answers to questions and concerns shared in elementary, middle, and high school stakeholder meetings and staff surveys. 

    Please know this plan is a DRAFT based on Board of Education approval. The full transition and safety plan will be presented to the Board of Education at their Monday, February 15th Work Session beginning at 4pm. The public can view the virtual meeting on the Asheville City Schools Facebook page. 

    We understand that the transition to Plan B will be challenging. District and school administrators are committed to supporting all students, staff, and families in this transition. Thank you all for your commitment and dedication to Asheville City Schools! 

  •  

    February 5, 2021

    Asheville City Schools is excited to welcome students back for in-person learning next month! The gradual transition from Plan C to Plan B for Kindergarten - 12th Grade is planned for on or around Wednesday, March 17th. 

    We are currently working with all staff members to figure out the best timeline to safely start phasing in all grades. The full transition and safety plan will be shared with students, staff, and families by next Friday, February 12th.

     

     

  •  January 11, 2021 

    Good Afternoon Students, Staff and Families.  This is Ashley-Michelle Thublin, Executive Director of Communications, with important return to learn updates. 

    COVID-19 is spreading at a dangerous pace across our county, state and nation.  Just last week, North Carolina had record-high transmission rates and hospitalization numbers. 

    Extending Remote Instruction For All Students: 

    Knowing we are at a critical point in our fight against this virus, Dr. Gene, along with our staff and the Asheville City Board of Education, has made the hard decision that Asheville City Schools will continue with remote instruction for all students, Pre-Kindergarten through 12th Grade, through the end of our third nine weeks, which is Tuesday, March 16th.  

    The tentative date for our large-scale, gradual transition from Plan C to Plan B for Pre-Kindergarten - 5th Grade is now set for Wednesday, March 17th.  Please understand this date is subject to change based on variations in COVID-19 cases both in our community and across our state.  

    A tentative return date for our secondary students will be announced at a later time.

    Truly, we applaud our educators and families for facing the many challenges at-home learning has brought upon our district. We know communities have been built over the computer, and both the quality and content of remote instruction has continued to increase.  In addition to your outstanding efforts, we think this can be partially credited to the district’s cautious approach vs. flip-flopping between remote and in-person instruction.  

    At the same time, we know and understand this is not the ideal situation.  This tough decision means our students will be learning remotely for over a year.  However, as we continue to receive important guidance from state and local health officials as well as hear from staff, we believe it is the right one.  In fact, just last week, a survey was sent to all staff members in collaboration with the Asheville City Association of Educators.  Citing high transmission rates and limited access to vaccines, 85% of those who responded said they do NOT believe it is safe for students to return for face to face learning at this time. 

    ACS Staff Working Remotely:

    In addition to students learning remotely, Dr. Gene highly recommends that staff members continue to work from home for the foreseeable future.  Our top priority remains keeping our students and staff members safe.  Therefore, please stay home as much as possible and work directly with your principal or supervisor should your lesson plans or job duties require you to report in person.  

    At this time, only essential workers will be required to report to their assigned location.  Essential workers include but are not limited to:  custodians, the maintenance staff, the child nutrition staff, school social workers and bus drivers delivering meals at food distribution sites.  School administrators and district supervisors will be in contact with additional staff members needed to keep essential operations ongoing.  

    Knowing that many staff members say a minimum of two to four weeks is needed to transition lessons from remote learning to in-person learning, Dr. Gene will also continue to work with staff and supervisors to ensure there is ample time to prepare.  

    Tech Support: 

    Although most of our staff are working from home, please know students WILL continue to utilize the same channels that have been in place all year, including the Student Tech Support Google Form.

    Additionally, through the end of this week, our outstanding technicians will be ready and waiting at the district’s central office located at 85 Mountain Street should your child need to swap out a broken Chromebook or iPad, replace a power cord or receive a hotspot.  This week, they will be available on: 

    • Monday, Wednesday, Friday from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM
    • Tuesday and Thursday from 11:00 AM to 6:00 PM

    Next Monday, January 18th is a district holiday.  However, starting next Tuesday, January 19th, this process will move to the school level. Therefore, please be on the lookout for additional information from your child’s school about their future Chromebook distribution site and times.

    Food Distribution Sites:

    Despite our extension of at-home learning, the School Nutrition Department WILL continue to provide grab-and-go pickup meals at no cost to children 18 and under at specific schools and at scheduled community-based Food Distribution Sites.  A list of our most up-to-date times and locations can be found here

    Athletics:

    The North Carolina High School Athletics Association has NOT issued any new guidance restricting activity.  At this time, middle and high school athletics will continue as scheduled at the discretion of coaches as long as the NCHSAA and CDC guidelines can be followed.  

    Additionally, we encourage parents to continue to use their best judgment in deciding what is best for their child, as athletics are considered a voluntary extracurricular activity.  There will be NO repercussions should a student-athlete choose not to participate in a practice or game because of COVID-19 concerns. 

    Thank you for your continued support and flexibility!  As Dr. Gene has repeatedly said, “We know face-to-face learning is best for students.  However, each month, COVID numbers have continued to worsen.”  Therefore, in an effort to save our school year, Cougar Family, please continue to wear a mask, maintain proper social distancing, wash your hands often and stay home as much as possible! 

     

  • January 5, 2021 

    Good Afternoon Students, Staff and Families.  This is Ashley-Michelle Thublin, Executive Director of Communications, with a few return to learn reminders. 

    First and foremost, congratulations on making it through the first few days of the second semester!  Although we wish it could be in person, safety comes first.  And, I think we can all agree our educators are continuing to do a terrific job in carrying out instruction from the safety of their homes.  

    ACS Staff Members Working Remotely:  

    Staff, please be reminded that only essential workers are required to report to their assigned location now - Friday, January 15th.  Essential workers include but are not limited to:  custodians, the maintenance staff, the child nutrition staff and bus drivers delivering meals at food distribution sites.  School administrators and district supervisors will be in contact with additional staff members needed to keep essential operations ongoing.  

    As you can see on our COVID-19 dashboard, this decision is NOT driven by a COVID cluster anywhere within our district.  It has simply been made knowing North Carolina COVID-19 metrics are hitting new highs following the Winter Break.  Our top priority remains keeping our students and staff members safe.  Therefore, please stay home as much as possible. 

    January 8th Asynchronous Learning Day

    As a reminder, Friday, January 8th will be an asynchronous learning day for all elementary students across Asheville City Schools.  This means that elementary teachers will not be leading any live, online classes.  Instead, elementary students will have assignments to work on independently that day.

    On Friday, January 8th, elementary staff members will be completing a curriculum deep dive.  This will include reviewing resources and revising pacing guides for the third and fourth quarters.  

    In order to be counted present, elementary students should complete that day’s google attendance check-in form.  

    This week’s elementary asynchronous learning day is in addition to the calendar’s previously communicated January 15th district-wide Optional Staff Workday/Virtual Learning Day. 

    Tech Support: 

    Although most of our staff are working from home, please know students will continue to utilize the same channels that have been in place all year, including the Student Tech Support Google Form.

    Additionally, should your child need to swap out a broken Chromebook or iPad, replace a power cord or receive a hotspot, our outstanding technicians will be ready and waiting at the district’s central office located at 85 Mountain Street on:

    • Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM
    • Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11:00 AM to 6:00 PM

    School Nutrition:  

    Like our first semester, the School Nutrition Department will continue to provide grab-and-go pickup meals at no cost to children 18 and under at specific schools and at scheduled community-based Food Distribution Sites.

    Athletics:

    The North Carolina High School Athletics Association has NOT issued any new guidance restricting activity.  At this time, middle and high school athletics will continue as scheduled at the discretion of coaches as long as the NCHSAA and CDC guidelines can be followed.  

    Asheville City Schools will continue to follow NCHSAA recommendations for gameplay, including health department-directed screenings, contact tracing and team quarantines if necessary.

    Additionally, we encourage parents to continue to use their best judgment in deciding what is best for their child, as athletics are considered a voluntary extracurricular activity.  A student-athlete will NOT be penalized if they choose not to participate in a game because of COVID-19 concerns. 

    Thank you for your continued support and understanding!  Cougar Family, please continue to wear a mask, maintain proper social distancing, wash your hands often and stay home as much as possible! 

  • December 17, 2020 

    Good Afternoon Students, Staff and Families. This is Ashley-Michelle Thublin, Executive Director of Communications.

    In order to give our students a much-needed screen break, please know Asheville City Schools will be turning off student access to Google Meet and Google Chat starting late tomorrow afternoon - the early morning hours of January 4th. Please know your child will still have access to all other digital resources. But, we truly hope they’ll use this time away to rest and relax.

    These past nine months have shown how resilient and adaptable the Cougar Family truly is. You are an outstanding community, and if ever we needed time to power down our devices, this is it. We sincerely hope your Winter Break is a safe and happy one.

    Here’s to spending the next two weeks recharging our minds instead of recharging our Chromebooks!


    December 17, 2020

    Good Afternoon Elementary Students, Staff and Families.  This is Ashley-Michelle Thublin, Executive Director of Communications. 

    In an effort to be as transparent as possible and give your family time to prepare, please know Friday, January 8th will be an asynchronous learning day for all elementary students across Asheville City Schools.  This means that teachers will not be leading any live, online classes.  Instead, students will have assignments to work on independently that day.

    This is a change to our current calendar. 

    On Friday, January 8th, staff members will be completing a curriculum deep dive.  This will include reviewing resources and revising pacing guides for the third and fourth quarters.  

    Once again, students will utilize asynchronous lessons for the entire day on January 8th.  In order to be counted present, students should complete that day’s google attendance check-in form.  

    Thank you, and have a good evening. 

  • December 7, 2020

    Good Afternoon Students, Staff and Families.  This is Ashley-Michelle Thublin, Executive Director of Communications, with a return to learn update.  

    Extension of ACS Staff Members Working Remotely: 

    Dr. Gene has decided that Asheville City Schools staff members will have the option to work remotely next week, December 14 - 18.  

    Only essential workers and those conducting in-person exams are required to report to their assigned location on December 14 - 18.  Beyond educators administering in-person exams, essential workers include but are not limited to:  custodians, the maintenance staff, the child nutrition staff, bus drivers assigned to pick up students for high school testing and bus drivers delivering meals at food distribution sites.  School administrators and district supervisors will be in contact with additional staff members needed to keep essential operations ongoing.  

    We understand this is a change in our previous communication.  Please know our goal is to give staff and families as much notice as possible by telling you about the adjustment in schedules today. 

    As you can see on our COVID-19 dashboard, this decision is NOT driven by a COVID cluster anywhere within our district.  It has simply been made with the safety of our students, staff and families in mind.  

    Continuation of Remote Instruction:  

    Families, remote instruction WILL continue as planned for all students now through December 18th as well the two weeks following our Winter Break (January 4th - 15th); our educators will simply be carrying out instruction from the safety of their homes.  

    Preschool Program Updates: 

    This extension DOES include our preschool program.  Our buildings will be closed; therefore, should your child traditionally attend the preschool program, please know they will NOT report to the campus but will instead be learning from home through January 19th.  Tuition and aftercare accounts will be credited. 

    At this time, the district anticipates reopening preschool classrooms on Tuesday, January 19th.  However, if numbers continue to rise, we may have to alter our decision.  Parents, please be prepared and know we will communicate any changes as soon as possible. 

    PODS: 

    At the discretion of each community center, several of our community-based PODS reopened today, Monday, December 7th.  Those who returned for in-person learning include: 

    • Arthur R. Edington Education & Career Center
    • Hillcrest Community Center 
    • Hillcrest Head Start Center 
    • My Daddy Taught Me That
    • Pisgah View Apartments Community Center 
    • Western Carolina Rescue Mission 
    • YTL 

    At this time, the community-based PODS located at Burton Street Community Center, Delta House, the Dr. Wesley Grant Sr. Southside Center, the Montford Community Center and the Stephens Lee Community Center will reopen on Monday, December 14th.  

    As a reminder to families with children attending one of our PODS, the day begins at 8:00 AM, and remote instruction ends at 1:30 PM.  Both breakfast and lunch are provided. 

    High School Testing: 

    If your child is a high school student scheduled to take one of the state mandated End of Course or CTE Final Exams, please know that, at this time, they WILL still occur in person next week. In-person testing is required for the following first semester courses: NC Math 1, NC Math 3, English II, Biology, Apparel I, Career Management, Parenting and Child Development, Foods I, Health Science I, Sports and Entertainment Marketing, and Principles of Business. Students enrolled in yearlong versions of these courses will not test until the end of the school year. 

    As shared by both Principal Edwards and Principal Cush, this is NOT a local decision; Dr. Gene and the Asheville City Board of Education know and have a deep understanding that our community is experiencing a rise in COVID-19 cases.  

    Unfortunately, Asheville City Schools students, like those across North Carolina and our nation, are required to take these assessments by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction and U.S. Department of  Education.

    Please know December 14th - 18th remains our designated testing window; however, in an effort to be as transparent as possible, we think it’s important to share that Asheville City Schools has received an extension for makeup testing through the end of January. If students do not attend scheduled in-person testing next week, school staff will be in communication to problem solve and schedule makeup testing in collaboration with families.  However, as you know, there is no guarantee case numbers will decrease over the next month, especially with many set to travel over the Winter Break.  Additionally, deciding to wait until after the holidays will, unfortunately, mean your child will complete their exams after the semester is over and students will have started their second semester courses. These are two points to consider; however, Dr. Gene urges you to continue to advocate for your child and do what you believe is best.  

    We CANNOT change the fact that testing must be done in person and that our staff are the ones who will give the exams.  However, our district is doing everything within its power to ensure our in-person exams are carried in an environment that is as safe as possible.  Following guidance from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, precautions include but are not be limited to: 

    • Anyone showing symptoms of COVID-19 or who may have been exposed to COVID-19 will not be allowed on campus.  
    • A Temperature Check and Covid Screener will occur before students are permitted to enter the building.
    • A mask will be worn at all times by all students and staff covering both nose and mouth.
    • Directional walking paths have been created to ensure extra safety for students and staff. 
    • Social Distancing will be maintained by staying 6 feet apart at all times from all students and staff.  Students will not be allowed to congregate socially on campus. 
    • All testing rooms will be cleaned before and after testing.
    • Bathrooms will be cleaned and sanitized at least every hour. Only one student will be allowed in the restroom at a time.
    • Desks will be at least 6 feet apart to ensure social distancing. 

    Food Distribution Sites: 

    Food distribution sites WILL be serving meals the week of December 14th - 18th.  As a reminder, Friday, December 18th will be the final day our community-based pick-up sites and school drive-thru sites will serve breakfast and lunch at no cost to our students or families prior to the Winter Break.  Following the holidays, they will reopen on Monday, January 4th. 

    Athletics:

    At this time, middle and high school athletics will continue as scheduled at the discretion of coaches as long as the NCHSAA and CDC guidelines can be followed. 

    Thank you for your continued support and understanding.

  • December 4, 2020

    Good Afternoon Students, Staff and Families.  This is Ashley-Michelle Thublin, Executive Director of Communications, with an update about our community-based PODS. 

    As a follow-up to last week’s communication, please be reminded that all Asheville City Schools buildings will be closed next week, with only essential workers reporting to their assigned location December 7th - 11th.  Remote instruction WILL continue as planned; our educators will simply be carrying out instruction from the safety of their homes.  

    However,  at the discretion of each community center, several of our community-based PODS will reopen on Monday, December 7th.  Those returning for in-person learning include: 

    • Arthur R. Edington Education & Career Center
    • Hillcrest Community Center 
    • Hillcrest Head Start Center 
    • My Daddy Taught Me That
    • Pisgah View Apartments Community Center 
    • Western Carolina Rescue Mission 
    •   YTL 

    At this time, the community-based PODS located at Burton Street Community Center, Delta House, the Dr. Wesley Grant Sr. Southside Center, the Montford Community Center and the Stephens Lee Community Center will reopen on Monday, December 14th.  

    As a reminder to families with children attending one of our PODS, the day begins at 8:00 AM, and remote instruction ends at 1:30 PM.  Both breakfast and lunch are provided. 

    Thank you for your continued support.  I hope you have a wonderful rest of your Friday and a relaxing weekend.

  • November 24, 2020

    Good Afternoon Students, Staff and Families.  This is Ashley-Michelle Thublin, Executive Director of Communications, with important return to learn updates. 

    Extension of School Building Closures Following Thanksgiving:

    As more medical experts predict Thanksgiving will be a superspreader of COVID-19, Dr. Gene has decided that all Asheville City Schools buildings will be closed the two weeks following our Thanksgiving Holiday (Monday, November 30th - Friday, December 11th).  We understand this is a change in our previous communication.  Please know our goal is to give families as much notice as possible by telling you about the extension today. 

    As you can see on our COVID-19 dashboard, this decision is NOT driven by a COVID cluster anywhere within our district.  It has simply been made with the safety of our students, staff and families in mind.  

    Knowing many are traveling, Dr. Gene would like to give the Cougar Family the opportunity to quarantine for a full 14 days after the break’s conclusion.  Based on existing literature from the CDC, COVID-19’s time of exposure to the development of symptoms ranges from 2–14 days.  Therefore, in order to keep everyone safe, we are extending the closure of our buildings to include the full 14 day incubation period.  

    Only essential workers should report to their assigned location on November 30th - December 11th.  Staff, your supervisor will be in contact with you if you fall into this category.  

    Families, remote instruction WILL continue as planned for all students November 30th - December 11th; our educators will simply be carrying out instruction from the safety of their homes.  This extension DOES include our preschool program.  Our buildings will be closed; therefore, should your child traditionally attend the preschool program, please know they will NOT report to the campus but will instead be learning from home on November 30th - December 11th. 

    As a reminder, community-based PODS will be closed for in-person instruction and afterschool programming through the City of Asheville’s Parks & Recreation Department the week of November 30th - December 4th.  They WILL be open at the discretion of each community center the week of December 7th - 11th.  

    Food Distribution Sites Reopening on December 4th: 

    Food distribution sites will also NOT be serving meals November 30th - December 3rd.  However, our community-based pick-up sites and school drive-thru sites WILL reopen on Friday, December 4th.  This is a change to the communication shared on November 20th.  Moving up our reopening date will allow families to not only receive meals next Friday but also meal packs for next weekend.  Should your family need additional resources prior to December 4th, please reach out to your school social worker.  

    Cancelling In-Person, Elementary School-Based Small Groups:  

    If your child was set to begin an in-person, small group at one of our elementary schools on Monday, December 7th, please know they have now been cancelled.  Someone from your child’s school will be in contact with additional information.    

    High School Testing:

    In-person End of Course exams for NC Math 1, NC Math 3, Biology, and English II and CTE post assessments will take place for high school students the week of December 14th - 18th.  If your child falls into this category, please know their school will be communicating additional information about this process. 

    Athletics:

    At this time, middle and high school athletics will continue as scheduled at the discretion of coaches as long as the NCHSAA and CDC guidelines can be followed. 

    Postponing In-Person Return Dates: 

    Additionally, in an effort to give families time to prepare and be as transparent as possible, please know the district is postponing its date to bring K-5 students back for in-person learning.  

    Following the Winter Holidays, the district WILL issue another two-week incubation period in order to slow the spread of COVID-19.  Therefore, although we hoped January 11th would be our return date for elementary students, Dr. Gene has decided January 19th will be the first day back on campus for our staff.  The tentative date for our large-scale, gradual transition from Plan C to Plan B for Kindergarten - 5th Grade is now set for Monday, February 1st.  More information will be provided following the Thanksgiving Holiday; however, please understand this date is subject to change based on variations in COVID-19 cases both in our community and across our state.  

    A tentative return date for our secondary students will be announced at a later time.   

    We are hopeful Governor Cooper’s tightened restrictions and Executive Order No. 180 will decrease the rapid spread of COVID-19.  In order to save our school year, we ask each member of the Cougar Family to please do their part and continue to practice the Three W’s as you have a safe and happy holiday weekend.

  • November 20, 2020 

    Good Afternoon Students, Staff and Families.  This is Ashley-Michelle Thublin, Executive Director of Communications, with an important return to learn update. 

    With COVID-19 cases rising and community spread increasing across the state, Dr. Gene has decided that all Asheville City Schools buildings will be closed the week following our Thanksgiving Holiday, November 30th - December 4th.  

    Knowing many students and staff will be traveling next week, he would like the entire Cougar Family to have the opportunity to quarantine.  As you can see on our COVID-19 dashboard, this decision is NOT driven by a COVID cluster anywhere within our district.  It has simply been made with your safety in mind.  

    Please know remote instruction WILL continue as planned for all students the week of November 30th - December 4th; our educators will simply be carrying out instruction from the safety of their homes.  

    With staff working remotely, our community-based PODS will be closed for in-person instruction, and afterschool programming through the City of Asheville’s Parks & Recreation Department will not occur.  Our preschool program will also be closed for in-person instruction.  Therefore, should your child traditionally attend PODS or the preschool program, know they will NOT report to the campus but will instead be learning from home on November 30th - December 4th.   

     Additionally, if your child was set to begin an in-person, elementary school, small group on Monday, November 30th, please know their start date will also be pushed back one week to Monday, December 7th.

    With staff working from home, our food distribution sites will also NOT be serving meals November 30th - December 4th.  However, should your family need additional resources, please reach out to your school social worker. 

    Additionally, please know middle and high school athletics will continue as scheduled the week of November 30th - December 4th at the discretion of coaches as long as the NCHSAA and CDC guidelines can be followed. 

    Have a wonderful rest of your day, and please continue to practice the Three 3’s - wear a face covering over your nose and mouth, wait six feet apart and wash your hands - to protect yourself and others from spreading COVID-19 inside and outside of the school setting.

  • November 13, 2020 

    Good Afternoon Students, Staff and Families.  This is Dr. Gene with a return to learn update. 

    We know and understand there are still many unknowns regarding COVID-19, especially as we progress into cold and flu season.  

    However, as our district makes preparations for our gradual transition to Plan B, we need your support.  

    As we plan for the return of our Kindergarten - 5th Graders, we are asking families with elementary-aged students to please complete this survey by Monday, November 23rd at 12:00 NOON.  A survey should be completed for EACH of your children currently in grades K-5. 

    Answering this survey does NOT lock your family in to either returning for in person learning or continuing with at home instruction.  Its results will simply give the district a timely glimpse at what our families are currently feeling, especially as we determine staffing needs. 

    Once we have the results of this survey, we will be able to provide you with additional details about all your options.

  • November 12, 2020 

    Good Afternoon Students, Staff and Families.  This is Dr. Gene with an update about our Return to Learn plans. 

    Since announcing the district’s plan to gradually transition to Plan B, which is a blend of both in person and remote learning, for our Kindergarten - 5th Graders beginning on Monday, January 11th, our staff have received quite a few frequently asked questions.  Thanks to your inquiries, our FAQ webpage has been updated.  

    Safety Protocols 

    Question:  Will there be universal testing of all students and staff before returning to in person learning regardless of A/B option?

    • No.  Federal coronavirus guidance does not recommend universal testing of all students and staff in K-12 schools.  Instead, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations suggest testing efforts for K-12 students should focus on those with symptoms of the virus and those who may have had exposure to infected individuals.

    Question:  What kind of health and safety measures are being taken when students return to campus under Plan B?

    • Face coverings are required for all students and staff on buses and school campuses. 
    • Daily temperature checks will be taken before staff and students enter an Asheville City Schools campus. 
    • Social distancing will include spaced seating on buses and in class, marked reminders on floors, and fewer people in the building. 
      • This means non-essential visitors and activities involving outside groups and organizations will be limited, and activities that involve bringing together large groups of people (like assemblies, performances and field trips) are discontinued until further notice.
    • Staff will follow prescribed cleaning and disinfecting recommendations.
    • Teachers will be encouraging increased handwashing and proper sneezing hygiene, and hand sanitizers will be available in each classroom. 

    Question:  What happens when a student gets sick? Will they be required to quarantine at home? 

    • Students who present symptoms at school will be sent home, with directions from public health officials. Check this NCDHHS flow chart to see how school nurses will screen individuals for COVID-19 symptoms. 
    • If a student is unable to leave the school immediately, they will be monitored away from other individuals in a privacy room until they are able to be picked up. Each school will have an area for isolation, as well as an area for nurses to provide routine care. School nurses have worked with individual principals to establish these areas, based on the logistics of each school.

    Question:  What are the tracing procedures and protocols in place? 

    • Contact tracers with Buncombe County Health and Human Services will notify an individual if they have been in close contact with a COVID-19 positive case.  As a reminder, close contact is defined by the CDC as “anyone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes over a 24 hour time period.”
    • Asheville City Schools will follow the directions shared by Buncombe County Health and Human Service to carry out their recommendations for contacting students, staff and families as well as their specific cleaning protocols.  
    • We will consult with our local health department to determine whether they believe closing a classroom or an entire campus is required.  Please take note that there may be no need to close the school if BCHHS determines that close contacts are excluded and there is sufficient space to continue normal operations.

    Question:  How will class transitions be handled? 

    • In general, students will not be transitioning out of the classroom.  Adults will transition into those classrooms to offer different services or instructional content.

    Question:  How will rooms and meeting areas be cleaned and arranged? How often will they be sanitized? 

    • Rooms will have unnecessary items removed to reduce the number of frequently touched surfaces requiring disinfecting
    • Each building will have a custodial member assigned as the “high-touch” sanitizer to specifically clean frequently touched areas in the building throughout the school day.  This is to include door knobs, door handles, water-bottle filling stations, flat surfaces in common areas, bathrooms, general office workspaces, etc.  This individual will cycle throughout the building during the work day.
    • To reduce the possibility of cross-contamination and aid in contact tracing, staff and students will only spend time in a limited number of spaces on a daily basis.  This schedule will continue throughout the pandemic.  More specifically, students will be assigned the same bus/bus seat, classroom/class seat, bathroom, etc. throughout this event.
    • Each room on every ACS campus has been measured and assigned a “50% Capacity” maximum number based on each person requiring 36 sq. ft to maintain social distancing
    • Water fountains will be disabled.  However, the water-bottle filling stations will be open for students to get water as needed.  Disposable cups will be provided for students and staff.  Students may bring a bottle from home if they choose.  The water-bottle filling stations will be sanitized multiple times throughout the day.
    • All spaces will be sanitized with a CDC-approved virucide after the occupants leave the building each day. 

    Question:  Knowing the virus is aerosolized and gets into heating and cooling systems, how will these systems be tested and maintained? 

    • The Asheville City Schools Maintenance Department has taken the following steps within the past two months:
      • Hired an outside, third-party consultant to inspect the functionality of all HVAC systems.  The third-party consultant is prepared to go through the systems again in the month of October.  They made recommendations to our Maintenance Department, which our staff have continued to follow including: outside air flow, indoor humidity maintenance, air filtration, etc.
      • Hired an outside, third-party to inspect the air-quality within each ACS building.  
      • Changed the minimum level air filters in our HVAC air handlers required by federal regulations to the higher grade MERV-13 filters.  This is the grade of filter used in hospitals and care-centers.
      • Purchased and will continue to purchase outdoor pavilion tents for schools to set-up outdoor learning areas.  This will only of course be effective as the temperature and weather allows us to use those areas.

    Question:  Will family members who test positive be required to notify the school and self-quarantine their students? 

    • Yes.  As part of our daily medical screening questions, students will be required to answer if they live with someone who is waiting for COVID-19 test results or has been diagnosed with COVID-19. 

    Question:  Will students be required to wear face coverings throughout the entire school day?  How will mask breaks be incorporated into the daily routine? 

    • In Asheville City Schools, the safety of our students and staff is always our TOP priority. We believe the use of masks/face coverings are essential in protecting our Cougar Family and preventing the spread of COVID-19.  Therefore, per the N.C. Department of Health & Human Services guidelines, face coverings are required for everyone in our schools and on our buses – including students, staff, and any visitors to campus.  If students, staff, or visitors do not have a mask, one will be provided for them. 
    • If parents or families have a medical reason why your child cannot wear a mask, please contact your child's school.
    • Please know that mask breaks will be built into our daily schedule.  Breaks will be scheduled according to building protocols and will occur when students can maintain a distance of six feet from others for the duration of the break. Mask breaks should take place outside whenever possible, and if held indoors, windows should be opened for the duration of the break.   

    Communication 

    Question:  Will an all-district email go out if there is a positive case of COVID-19 amongst a student or staff member? 

    • We understand the desire to know if you or your family might be at risk for contracting and spreading COVID-19 and we want to do everything we can to stop the spread of COVID in our community.  If a student or staff member tests positive for COVID-19, contact tracing will occur and close contacts will be contacted by communicable disease staff in alignment with our state-adopted Crisis Management Plans and current procedures.  Should there be any concerning trends or an outbreak (5 or more cases) at a school, Buncombe County Health and Human Services and the district will send out a notification to staff, school families, and to the community through all available communication channels. Furthermore, clusters and outbreaks will be included on the NCDHHS website.  Both the health department and ACS will provide as transparent reporting as possible while still protecting confidentiality.  However, please understand the district will not provide personally identifiable information of an infected person.
    • Additionally, in collaboration with BCHHS and Buncombe County Schools, Asheville City Schools released its first COVID-19 reporting form on Thursday, November 5th.  Moving forward, the Dashboard will be updated once a week, each Thursday at 9:00 AM.  Please know the Dashboard will be linked on our Return to Learn webpage.  It combines staff and student numbers and includes: 
      • -New Cases 
      • -Active Cases 
      • -A Case Count Of Those Released From Isolation 

    The reporting form is organized by school and includes numbers from the Central Office as well.  However, it does NOT include staff working remotely or students learning in a remote setting. 

    Curriculum & Instruction 

    Question:  If a student/class is required to quarantine, how will they keep up with their school work while missing two weeks or more of in-person learning? 

    • Students will complete work and assignments at-home in the remote environment, just as they would with any other sickness (flu, virus, etc). 

    Question:  Will there continue to be a virtual option for students and families who feel unsafe or who have higher risk factors and need to limit exposure as much as possible?

    • A completely virtual option will be available for any student/family who chooses, regardless of the reasoning for selecting this option.  

    Human Resources/Internal Communications

    Question:  What happens when a teacher gets ill? Will that teacher be paid for time away even if it is far more than their regular allowed sick days? 

    • When a teacher becomes ill, he or she may use their own sick leave or use the emergency federal COVID leave, which is 80 hours of paid leave. 

    Question:  Who should I reach out to if my classroom is not being cleaned? 

    • Classroom teachers should notify their building level administrator for all custodial concerns and needs. The principal or assistant principal will then inform the school custodians about all cleaning needs. Also, school administrators will notify the school’s maintenance department for additional support.  

    Question:  Should there be a classroom or school exposure, do we have enough substitutes to adequately staff the building?  What is a substitute’s role under both remote learning and Plan B? 

    • Currently, the district has employed over 100 substitute teachers. We are not utilizing substitute teachers for remote learning; however, the district will be assigning substitute teachers to schools for Plan B. Substitute teachers will follow the regular protocol for instruction. 

    Thank you for your continued support of Asheville City Schools!  Please continue to email our Executive Director of Communications at ashley.thublin@acsgmail.net with any questions your family may have.  We know and understand this is an exciting yet difficult time with many uncertainties.  Our goal remains supporting your family any and every way we can.

  • November 4, 2020 

    Good Afternoon Cougar Family! This is Ashley-Michelle Thublin, Executive Director of Communications, with a return to learn update. 

    As cold and flu season begins to converge with the community spread of COVID-19, Asheville City Schools is modifying our coronavirus notification process.  

    In collaboration with Buncombe County Public Health and Buncombe County Schools, Asheville City Schools will be releasing its first COVID-19 reporting form at 9:00 AM on Thursday, November 5th. 

    The Dashboard will be updated once a week and begin with case counts from Wednesday, October 28 - Tuesday, November 3rd.   Only cases from the previous Wednesday through Tuesday will be reflected. As such, COVID-19 confirmed cases that are discovered Wednesday will appear on the following week’s dashboard refresh. 

    Please know the Dashboard will be linked on our Return to Learn webpage.  It will combine staff and student numbers and include: 

    • New Cases 
    • Active Cases 
    • A Case Count Of Those Released From Isolation 

    The reporting form will be organized by school and will include numbers from the Central Office as well.  However, it will NOT include staff working remotely or students learning in a remote setting. 

    We anticipate these changes will help ease concerns prior to ACS beginning its large-scale, gradual transition from Plan C to Plan B on January 11th; however, please understand that it is a point in time reading. 

    We should all continue to practice the Three 3’s - wear a face covering over your nose and mouth, wait six feet apart and wash your hands - to protect ourselves and others from spreading COVID-19 inside and outside of the school setting.

  • November 2, 2020 

    Good Evening Students, Staff and Families.  This is Dr. Gene with an important update about our Return to Learn plans. 

    At this time, Asheville City Schools has determined that we will continue with at-home, remote instruction for most students in Kindergarten - 12th Grade through the end of the second nine weeks and Winter Holidays.  

    Additionally, on Monday, November 30th, our elementary schools will begin bringing back small groups of about 40 students per building.  Students will be selected based on the following criteria: 

    • Their beginning of year assessments
    • Their current engagement in the remote environment
    • Feedback from teachers
    • Student participation in the Exceptional Children's program

    We will then begin our large-scale, gradual transition from Plan C to Plan B, which is a blend of both in-person and remote learning, tentatively starting Monday, January 11th.    

    We believe it’s imperative to have a slower reopening that allows us to carefully plan and maintain safety protocols for all campuses; therefore, please know the second semester begins on Monday, January 4th and will be remote for all students for the first week.  We will begin with transitioning to in-person learning for just our Kindergarten - 5th Graders on Monday, January 11th.  This age group was determined based on scientific research, including this article from The Journal of Infectious Diseases.  It explains that although there is limited information on age and its impact on COVID-19 transmission, “susceptibility to infection for children ages 10 and under is estimated to be significantly lower,” which provides the safest possible learning environment for our students and staff.  

    Information about a return date for our secondary students will be announced following the Winter Holiday.    

    The district’s Plan B for elementary students will incorporate face-to-face instruction days and remote learning days at home, on an “A Week / B Week” schedule.  All students will utilize remote learning during the weeks they are not meeting in person.  

     Individual schools will be contacting families during the week of November 16th to confirm their children’s schedules in Week A or Week B.

     Our community-based PODS will continue even after our district transitions to its “A Week / B Week” model.  Students currently in PODS will have the choice to continue in their current setting.  

    Additionally, please know that although our district is transitioning to Plan B, we will be providing a Virtual Academy option should your family wish to continue to utilize a 100% virtual learning model for the remainder of the 2020-2021 school year.  In order to support you in making this important decision, additional information about the Kindergarten - 5th Grade Virtual Academy as well as answers to Plan B Frequently Asked Questions will be released in the upcoming weeks.

  • October 5, 2020 

    Good Evening Students, Staff and Families.  This is Dr. Gene with a return to learn update. 

    As you know, my original intention was to make a recommendation regarding the second quarter during tonight’s meeting of the Asheville City Board of Education. 

    I know and understand that families were hoping to hear a more solidified response; however, the safety of our students and staff is my number one priority.  At this time, I simply do not feel comfortable bringing back a large number of students for in-person learning. 

    Therefore, Asheville City Schools will remain with remote learning, at least through the next three to four weeks.  During this time, we will continue to collaborate with Buncombe County Health and Human Services and monitor our local COVID-19 metrics. 

    After three to four weeks, I will make a new recommendation to the Board of Education regarding the remainder of the second quarter and our return to learn plans. 

  • September 22, 2020 

    Good Afternoon Students, Staff and Families.  This is Dr. Gene with a return to learn update. 

    First and foremost, I would like to applaud our staff and families for the outstanding job you’ve put forth this semester.  I realize remote learning hasn’t been without its challenges and could never take the place of a teacher in a classroom.  But, please know I appreciate how much you’ve done and continue to do to keep our Cougar Family safe while making the most of a difficult situation.  

    Just to clear up any confusion, Asheville City Schools will continue to access remote instruction for all students in Kindergarten - 12th Grade through our first nine weeks, which ends on Friday, October 16th.  

    At this time, a final decision about the second nine weeks has not been made.  Following my recommendations, the Asheville City Board of Education will make a final decision during their October 5th meeting. 

    Please know that I appreciate those who offered their thoughts and feelings - especially our students and educators - during the district’s September 17th Reopening Task Force Meeting.  However, prior to making my recommendation, I would like to hear from more families, especially about whether you believe Asheville City Schools should begin making a gradual transition to Plan B.   

    Therefore, I’m asking each parent and guardian to take a few minutes between now and next Wednesday, September 30th to complete this short survey.  It’s only a handful of questions, but your feedback will go a long way in allowing me to make a well-informed recommendation.  

    Thank you for your continued support of Asheville City Schools

  • September 17, 2020 

    Good Afternoon Students, Staff and Families.  This is Shane Cassida, Assistant Superintendent of Auxiliary Services, with a school nutrition update. 

    I wanted to let you know that beginning next Monday, September 21st, our school nutrition staff will be opening four additional drive-thru sites at Asheville High School, Claxton Elementary School, Isaac Dickson Elementary School and Vance Elementary School.  Our increased number of sites is the result of our school nutrition staff now working from seven kitchens across the district.  

    Our staff will also continue to serve meals at our Asheville Middle drive-thru site as well as our community-based grab and go sites. 

    So, starting Monday, we look forward to greeting you with a smile and delicious meals at: 

    • Asheville High School from 11:00 AM - 1:00 PM 
    • Asheville Middle School from 11:00 AM - 1:00 PM 
    • Claxton Elementary School from 11:00 - 1:00 PM 
    • Hillcrest Apartment from 11:00 AM - 1:00 PM
    • Isaac Dickson Elementary School from 11:00 - 1:00 PM 
    • Klondyke Apartments from 11:00 AM - 1:00 PM
    • Livingston Street Area from 11:00 AM - 1:00 PM
      • Herb Watts Park from 11:00 - 11:35 AM 
      • Wesley Grant Center from 11:40 - 12:20 PM 
      • Walton Street Park from 12:25 - 1:00 PM 
    • Pisgah View Apartments from 11:00 AM - 1:00 PM
    • Vance Elementary School from 11:00 AM - 1:00 PM. 

    As a reminder,  every child ages 18 and under is eligible to receive breakfasts and lunches at absolutely no cost to their families.  So, certainly, keep our Food Distribution Sites in mind when planning your child’s remote learning schedule. 

    Have a wonderful rest of your evening, and thank you for your continued support of Asheville City School and our Child Nutrition Department.

     

  • September 11, 2020 

    Good Morning Students, Staff and Families.  This is Ashley-Michelle Thublin, Executive Director of Communications, with a return to learn update. 

    I’m excited to announce that we will be hosting a Reopening Stakeholders Task Force Meeting next Thursday, September 17th from 5:15 - 6:30 PM.  Due to social distancing guidelines, in person attendance will be limited to just those that make up the task force.  However, we invite all stakeholders to watch the meeting live on Asheville City Schools’ Facebook Page

    The task force is comprised of representatives from across our Cougar Family, including students, teachers, staff members, principals, parents, government officials, medical professionals as well as representation from the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce. 

    During the meeting, the Task Force will review current COVID-19 metrics and trends, remote and virtual learning progress as well as lessons learned from surrounding districts who began school with, or recently converted to, a hybrid (Option B) program. The agenda will then focus on an open discussion about opportunities and challenges as we progress through the school year beyond these first nine weeks of remote learning.  A detailed meeting agenda can be found here

    Please take note that, although we anticipate the meeting will be rich in conversation, a formal decision about whether Asheville City Schools will continue under Plan C or begin its transition to Plan B is not part of the September 17th agenda. 

    A final decision about the second nine weeks will be made by the Asheville City Board of Education following a recommendation by Dr. Gene Freeman during their October 5th meeting.  As a reminder, the first quarter of the 2020-2021 school year ends on Friday, October 16th. 

    Have a wonderful rest of your day, and thank you for your continued support of Asheville City Schools. 

  • September 9, 2020 

    Good Afternoon Students, Staff and Families.  This is Shane Cassida, Assistant Superintendent of Auxiliary Services, with a school nutrition update. 

    I’m pleased to announce that we will be reopening our drive-thru site at Asheville Middle School as well as all our grab and go sites beginning tomorrow, Thursday, September 10th. 

    We look forward to greeting you with a smile and delicious meals at: 

    • Asheville Middle School from 11:00 AM - 1:00 PM 
    • Hillcrest Apartment from 11:00 AM - 1:00 PM
    • Klondyke Apartments from 12:45 PM - 1:45 PM
    • Livingston Street Area from 11:00 AM - 1:00 PM
      • Herb Watts Park from 11:00 - 11:35 AM 
      • Wesley Grant Center from 11:40 - 12:20 PM 
      • Walton Street Park from 12:25 - 1:00 PM 
    • Pisgah View Apartments from 11:00 AM - 12:30 PM

    As a reminder,  every child ages 18 and under is eligible to receive breakfasts and lunches at absolutely no cost to their families.  So, certainly, keep our Food Distribution Sites in mind when planning your child’s remote learning schedule. 

    Have a wonderful rest of your evening, and thank you for your continued support of Asheville City School and our Child Nutrition Department.

  • September 7, 2020 

    Good Afternoon Students, Staff and Families.  This is Shane Cassida, Assistant Superintendent of Auxiliary Services, with a return to learn update. 

    Public health is a shared responsibility, and it is one that our district takes seriously. 

    Following our own strict protocols, Asheville City Schools will not be able to serve meals from either our drive-thru or grab and go food distribution sites either tomorrow, Tuesday, September 8th or Wednesday, September 9th due to the continued community spread of COVID-19.  However, please reach out to your school social worker should your family need additional nutritional resources on Tuesday or Wednesday. 

    More information regarding Thursday and Friday will be released by Wednesday. 

    We are sorry for the inconvenience this may cause your family.  But, please know our top priority is the safety of our students and staff members.   

    Thank you for your patience and understanding as we navigate these challenging times.  Please, continue to do your part to prevent COVID from spreading by keeping space between yourself and others, wearing face coverings and washing your hands often.  It will take all of us working together to kick COVID to the curb.

  • September 3, 2020 

    Good Afternoon Students, Staff and Families.  This is Dr. Gene with an important return to learn update. 

    The Asheville Middle School campus will be closed tomorrow, Friday, September 4th and over the weekend.

    The closing has not been required by Buncombe County Health and Human Services.  Due to the continued community spread of COVID-19, we are simply using the extra day and long weekend to deep clean the campus out of an abundance of precaution. 

    Our staff members will be working remotely; therefore, please know instruction will continue, just virtually.   

    Please understand Asheville Middle School is our current flagship kitchen.  Because the building will be closed tomorrow, Friday, September 4th, we will not be able to serve meals at either our drive-thru or grab and go sites.  

    We are sorry for the inconvenience this may cause your family.  But, please know our top priority is the safety of our students and staff members.   

    Our current expectation is that we will be returning to Asheville Middle School on Tuesday, September 8th.  However, please know further clarification will be released on Monday, September 7th. 

    Thank you for your support and understanding.

  • September 1, 2020 

    Good Afternoon ACS Students, Staff and Families.  This is Dr. Dana Ayers, Chief Academic Officer, with a few return to learn updates. 

    As we begin our third week of remote learning, there have been questions about how our district is taking attendance during this time.  

    Knowing that some of our students are unable to attend each live class during their assigned time, please know attendance can be taken any time throughout the day.  

    In fact, your child will be marked present if: 

    • They attend that day’s online, whole-class session OR
    • They fill out a check-in form OR
    • They submit a class assignment within 5 days of due date OR
    • Their teacher has two-way communication with a parent/guardian through a phone call, email or Remind text message 

    Additionally, I understand that there’s still some confusion in understanding when your child should be participating in online, whole-class sessions (also known as synchronous learning) and when they should be working independently (also known as asynchronous learning).  In an effort to make things a bit easier, our principals created these helpful videos which go into greater detail in determining your child’s school day. 

    Thank you for your continued support of Asheville City Schools.  Should you have additional curriculum questions, please contact your child’s principal or reach out to me directly at dana.ayers@acsgmail.net. 

  • August 31, 2020 

    Good Afternoon Students, Staff and Families.  This is Shane Cassida, Assistant Superintendent of Auxiliary Services, with an exciting school nutrition update! 

    Just this morning, the USDA extended our summer meals waiver through December 31st.  This means every child ages 18 and under will continue to receive a free, healthy breakfast and lunch each Monday-Friday. 

    Despite this exciting change, now more than ever, it’s imperative that you complete your family’s meal application if you have not already done so.  Those who are eligible, receive additional benefits including:   

    • Fee waivers for College Entrance Exams 
    • Fee waivers for certain afterschool programs
    • Fee waivers for applications at many colleges and universities*
    • Your school may receive additional funding

    More information about completing your meal application can be found here

    Additionally, I wanted to let you know that we will continue to serve grab and go meals each Monday - Friday at the following sites:

    • Pisgah View Apartments: 11:00 AM - 12:30 PM
    • Hillcrest Apartment: 11:00 AM - 1:00 PM
    • Livingston Street Area: 11:00 AM - 1:00 PM
      • Herb Watts Park:  11:00 - 11:35 AM 
      • Wesley Grant Center:  11:40 - 12:20 PM 
      • Walton Street Park:  12:25 - 1:00 PM 
    • Klondyke Apartments: 11:00 AM - 1:00 PM

    Drive-thru meals will also be available at Asheville Middle School from 11:00 - 1:00 PM starting tomorrow.

    Thank you for your continued support of our district and School Nutrition Staff!  Along with our Transportation Staff, they’ve been able to serve over 150,000 meals at absolutely no cost to our families. And, thanks to the USDA, they are dedicated to continuing to do so as a way to support our students, families and community. 

  • August 21, 2020

    Good Afternoon Students, Staff and Families.  This is Shane Cassida, Assistant Superintendent of Auxiliary Services, with an athletics update. 

    Although we were originally planning to resume athletic workouts on Monday, August 23rd, out of an abundance of precaution, Asheville City Schools is pushing back its return date for all high school and middle school sports through Monday, September 7th.  

    The additional two weeks will give our student-athletes more time to adjust to their Fall 2020 remote learning schedules as well as provide our coaches with expanded COVID-19 safety training led by our athletic trainers from Mission/HCA Health.

    Prior to September 7th, each school will communicate with their families regarding the sports teams that are scheduled to resume at that time.  Decisions will be made in collaboration with and with guidance from Buncombe County Health and Human Services, Mission Sports Health and the district’s COVID-19 Safety Team.  

    Thank you for partnering with us in keeping our students, staff and school community safe and healthy.

  • August 14, 2020 

    Good Afternoon Students, Staff and Families.  This is Dr. Gene with an update about our Return to Learn plans. 

    With the first day of the 2020-2021 school year set for this upcoming Monday, our staff have received a few additional frequently asked questions.  Thanks to your inquiries, our website has been updated.  

    Question:  Can you tell me more about the Back to School Food Distribution Sites? 

    • Asheville City Schools will begin its Back to School Food Distribution Sites starting Monday, August 17th.  
    • Grab and go meals will be available Monday - Friday from August 17th - 31st at the following sites:
      • Pisgah View Apartments: 11:00 AM - 12:30 PM
      • Hillcrest Apartment: 11:00 AM - 1:00 PM
      • Herb Watts Park: 11:00 AM - 1:00 PM
      • Klondyke Apartments: 11:00 AM - 1:00 PM
      • Crowell Apartments:  12:45 - 1:30 PM 
    • Drive-thru meals will also be available at Isaac Dickson Elementary School, Claxton Elementary School and Vance Elementary Schools from 11:00 - 1:00 PM.
    • Meals will be served at no cost to our families. 
    • Meals will also be available for all of our Pre-Kindergarten students as well as any students coming to work with a parent who is an Asheville City Schools staff member.
    • To see what our outstanding school nutrition staff will be serving each day, please review the breakfast and lunch menus here

    Question:  I completed the Beginning of the Year Technology Survey and saw something about a $35  technology fee.  Can you tell me more about it? 

    • It is critical that all students have working devices. Asheville City Schools is committed to providing this access. Devices will be distributed by your child’s school during the first weeks of the school year. Your school will be in touch with the device pick up information. We are asking families to contribute $35 to share the cost of the device; with waivers available, no student will be denied a device.  The annual $35 Cost Share Fee helps sustain our 1:1 Laptop Initiative.  More information can be found here
    • The annual $35 Cost Share Fee can be paid with a check upon picking up your child’s device.  If you would prefer to pay with a credit card, please contact your child’s school to learn more about paying the $35 technology fee online.  
    • Specific information about device distribution dates for your child’s school has been shared by their principal.  Please note this is also the time your family can replace a broken power cord.   
    • Additionally, as a reminder, please remain in your car during device pick up until a staff member greets you.  We are putting additional protocols in place to limit contact.

    Question:  How will my child be able to access Canvas on the first day of school? 

    • Students will log in to Canvas with their school-issued username and password.  For example, if you are a rising 9th grader, your password was changed to meet the high school's password. [AHS.xxxx or SIL.xxxx and the last four digits of your student #] 
    • If you are having trouble accessing Canvas because of username or passwords, please contact your child’s school. 
    • Classes will be available in Canvas starting August 17th.

    Question:  What is my child’s username and password? 

    • Students' usernames are typically the first two letters of their first name and their last name, for example, brsmith (this is not 100% reliable as we adjust usernames when we encounter duplicates or last names have many letters).
    • Passwords follow the pattern of a three-digit school abbreviation, a period and the last four digits of the student’s student number.  For example:  AHS.1234 or JON.6789.
    • The three-digit school abbreviations for our district are: 
      • Asheville High School:  AHS
      • SILSA:  SIL
      • Asheville Middle School: AMS
      • Montford North Star Academy: MON
      • Asheville Primary  School:  APS
      • Claxton Elementary School:  CLX 
      • Hall Fletcher Elementary School:  HFE
      • Isaac Dickson Elementary School:  IDE
      • Ira B. Jones Elementary School:  JON 
      • Vance Elementary School:  VAN
    • Teachers and other school personnel can help students with username and password questions. 

    Question:  Can you tell me more about the official attendance requirements for remote learning?  

    • Attendance will be taken every day by your child's teacher using North Carolina's student data collection tool, PowerSchool.
    • Students are not officially enrolled until there is two-way communication through a class meeting, student-completed attendance form, or phone call. Your school will provide additional information about attendance procedures. 
    • Attendance for students in Grades K-5 will be taken through live class meetings with their teacher each day. 
    • Attendance for students in Grades 6-12 will be taken through the completion of an attendance Google Form every day for each class period by 1:00 PM. 
    • ACS teachers will record a student as being present by either two -way communication (live class meeting, student-completed attendance form, or phone call) OR by work completed on the date assigned. 

    Question:  We will be homeschooling our children this school year.  How can we withdraw them from Asheville City Schools? 

    • If a family decides to withdraw from Asheville City Schools to homeschool their child(ren), they must file a notice of intent to establish a homeschool in the state of North Carolina as well as receive an official registration record and verification email.  Without the official verification notification, a public school is unable to give credit for the time a student is enrolled in a homeschool program.  
    • It is also important to note that if a student is withdrawn for a school year, it is not guaranteed that they will be assigned to the same school they are currently assigned to if they return to ACS.  If an out-of-district student is withdrawn to homeschool, it is not guaranteed and unlikely that they will be able to re-enroll in Asheville City Schools.  
    • If a Kindergarten student does not attend school for the year, they will be placed in Kindergarten the following year per ACS Board Policy 4100:  The initial grade level will be the kindergarten level. After initial enrollment, a principal may move the child to the first grade if the principal determines that, by reason of maturity, the child can be served more appropriately in the first grade. 

    Thank you for your continued support of Asheville City Schools!  Please continue to reach out with any questions your family may have.  We know and understand this is an exciting yet difficult time with many uncertainties.  Our goal remains supporting your family any and every way we can. 

  • August 12, 2020 

    Good Afternoon Students, Staff and Families.  This is Shane Cassida, Assistant Superintendent of Auxiliary Services, with an update about athletics.

    Earlier this afternoon, the North Carolina High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA) announced athletics will be continuing for the 2020-2021 school year, just on a modified schedule. 

    Below is a copy of the calendar released by the NCHSAA: 

    NCHSAA Calendar
    As a district, we are excited about the opportunity to continue with high school athletics, even if it does mean our student-athletes will be playing on an amended schedule.  

    We appreciate the North Carolina High School Athletic Association’s due diligence in keeping safety a top priority while also giving us the opportunity to celebrate the many accomplishments of our student-athletes. 

    More information about middle school athletics will be released once we hear more from the French Broad Middle School Conference. 

    Thank you for your continued support of Asheville City Schools and our student-athletes.  Have a wonderful rest of your evening, and Cougar Pride!

  • August 10, 2020 

    Good Afternoon Students, Staff and Families.  This is Dr. Gene with a Return to Learn technology update. 

    As we begin the new school year under Plan C, Asheville City Schools is committed to ensuring all students have access to devices and reliable internet.

    Beginning today, August 10th, we are asking all families to please complete this survey to determine the status of your child’s device as well as learn more about how we can ensure every student is ready to learn in a remote setting.  Please complete the survey one time for each child you have in the district.  

    Mark your calendars now, as our Beginning of the Year Technology Survey will close this Thursday, August 13th at 2:00 PM.  

    Based on the survey information, we will have scheduled windows for device pick up and tutorials on August 17th - 28th.  These will be on school campuses.  If support is needed picking up devices, please notify your child's teacher.

    Additional information will be coming from your child’s campus regarding device distribution and repairs.              

    Thank you for your continued support of Asheville City Schools.  We are looking forward to seeing you all in a Google Meet very soon!

  • August 7, 2020

    Good Afternoon Students, Staff and Families. This is Shane Cassida, Assistant Superintendent of Auxiliary Services, with an important update about our food distribution sites.

    Please take note that today was our final day for summer meal services. But, thankfully you won’t have to wait too long to see our hardworking, dedicated staff.

    They’re taking a short break from preparing, delivering and serving meals, as next week they’ll be in staff development. But, they’re certainly looking forward to seeing you on August 17th

    Regarding our Back to School Plan, grab and go meals will be available Monday - Friday from August 17th - 31st at the following sites:

    • Pisgah View Apartments: 11:00 AM - 12:30 PM
    • Hillcrest Apartment: 11:00 AM - 1:00 PM
    • Herb Watts Park: 11:00 AM - 1:00 PM
    • Klondyke Apartments: 11:00 AM - 1:00 PM

    Drive-thru meals will also be available at Isaac Dickson Elementary, Claxton Elementary, and Vance Elementary Schools from 11:00 - 1:00 PM.

    Meals will also be available for all of our Pre-Kindergarten students as well as any students coming to work with a parent who is an Asheville City Schools staff member.

    More information about what our families can expect once September begins will be shared soon.

    Thank you, first and foremost, to our staff for your continued dedication in serving our community as well as to you for allowing us to be part of your daily summer schedule. We can’t wait to see you on the 17th! 

  • August 4, 2020

    Good Afternoon Students, Staff and Families. This is Dr. Gene with additional updates about our Return to Learn plans. 

    I wanted to let you know that our website’s Frequently Asked Questions page has been updated with additional information thanks to your inquiries.  

    Question:  I know the district’s opening under Plan C.  Will my child continue to receive support from the Student Services Department even though we’re beginning the school year in a remote setting?    

    • As a way to stay connected even while under an all remote learning model, every member of our Student Support Services Department is setting up their very own "virtual office."  A one-stop support shop, each person's virtual office will provide students and families with resources like mindfulness exercises, growth mindset tips, scholarship opportunities as well as give you a chance to schedule virtual meetings.  To learn more, watch this short video.  

    Question:  Will Asheville City Schools be having Open Houses? 

    • Yes.  Open House and orientation events are being planned now.  The format for your child’s school will be determined based on their grade level.  Please see below for additional information. Orientation Format

    Question:  Traditionally, my child attends preschool on the Asheville High School/SILSA campus.  Will they continue to have class?  

    • The Asheville High School Childcare Center has not been affiliated with the Asheville City Schools Preschool Program although they both operate under appropriate state childcare/preschool guidelines. The childcare center has been an instructional class under the Career and Technical Education (CTE) program. It is a teaching class where high school students have opportunities to learn about the early childhood education field.  Unfortunately, without high school students attending school face-to-face, the AHS Childcare class cannot be funded and operate in its current format.  Funding is based on high school students participating in class through this CTE program.   
    • Despite these challenges, Asheville City Schools is committed to the families of the Asheville High School Childcare Center.  All impacted families received communication detailing an opportunity to join the district’s preschool program on the campus of Asheville Primary School. 

    Question: Can you tell me more about why our teachers will be conducting lessons from their classrooms as opposed to at-home, like this spring? 

    • We have the best staff, and we want to provide them with the best resources in the safest environment possible.  
    • Since the spring, we have received state and local guidance as well as implemented safety protocols that permit staff to work on campus.  Additionally, we have worked with our local health department on determining which plan to proceed with as well as best practices on reporting any safety concerns.  
    • Through parent and staff surveys, it was shared that students are more engaged when they are receiving whole class sessions from a classroom setting.  
    • Teachers’ classrooms are equipped with appropriate technology, manipulatives, specialized equipment, lab equipment, and other teaching resources to effectively engage remotely.  
    • Our technology and devices on school campuses can receive appropriate maintenance and updates as needed. 

    Question:  Will my student receive a device before school starts? 

    • In collaboration with schools, our Instruction Technology Department is currently creating a timeline for device/instructional tools distribution.  

    Thank you for your continued support of Asheville City Schools!  Please continue to reach out with any questions your family may have.  We know and understand this is a difficult time with many uncertainties.  Our goal remains supporting your family any way we can.  

  • August 3, 2020 

    Good Evening Students, Staff and Families. This is Dr. Gene with an important update about our Cougar Family.

    We want to share news of positive COVID-19 cases in our Asheville Middle and Asheville High sports programs. We believe it’s important to be as transparent as possible about this pandemic and, by sharing this information, you have the information you need to take steps to slow the spread of COVID-19 in our school community.

     As of Monday, August 3rd, Asheville City Schools can confirm two positive cases of COVID-19 in Asheville Middle School and two cases in Asheville High School, impacting four sports teams across both campuses.  These individuals are self-isolating safely at home, in accordance with public health guidance. 

    Per Buncombe County Public Health, there is community spread of COVID-19, and, at this point, these cases have not been linked to the school sports workouts but are linked to COVID-19 spread in the community.  

    However, out of an abundance of precaution, we will be cancelling all athletic workout sessions at the high school and middle school through Friday, August 21st.  At that time, schools will communicate with families about our ability to resume practice.  Decisions will be made in collaboration with and with guidance from Buncombe County Health and Human Services.

    The Buncombe County Health Department has conducted an investigation and notified all families with a child who was in close contact with a person testing positive for COVID-19. If your family was not contacted by the Buncombe County Health Department, your child was not considered to be a close contact.  Close contact is defined by the CDC as “anyone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes starting from 48 hours before the person began feeling sick until the time the patient was isolated.”

    Please understand that, in accordance with North Carolina High School Athletic Association regulations, each Asheville City Schools student-athlete has their temperature taken each and every day by a health professional.  Coaches, staff and managers wear cloth face coverings at all times as well as maintain six feet of social distancing  Our student-athletes also wear a face mask when they are not actively engaged in physical activity; face masks are not worn during rigorous workouts because we don’t want to inhibit your child’s ability to breathe, especially during running and high aerobic activity, but students will continue to maintain social distancing throughout practice.  If your child does not have a mask or forgets their mask at home, one will be provided for them.  In addition to our student-athletes and staff wearing personal protective equipment, please know that each location has hand-washing stations for students and staff members to use.  Routine hand-washing is practiced during each workout session.  If you have any questions about our protocols or procedures, please contact MAHEC’s School Health Program Manager, April Baur, at (828) 772-9062. 

    Now more than ever, I believe we made the tough but right call by selecting Option C.   Remember, there is community spread of COVID-19. To slow the spread of COVID-19 in our school communities, let’s all continue to follow the public health guidance of the 3 W’s if we must go out into the community. If we all wear a face covering, wait 6 feet apart from each other, and wash our hands, we can get back to learning in the classroom and sports events sooner- rather than later!

    Thank you for partnering with us in keeping our students, staff and school community safe and healthy.

  • July 29, 2020 

    Good Afternoon Students, Staff and Families.  This is Dr. Gene with an update about our Return to Learn plans.  

    As we look to Fall 2020, we know each of you faces a unique set of circumstances.  At this time, we think that Plan C is the best way forward, with the fewest negative impacts for our community.  We believe our outstanding staff is dedicated to doing just that. 

    Last Thursday, the Asheville City Board of Education unanimously voted to delay bringing students back to campus.  Instead, all students, Kindergarten - 12th Grade, will begin the school year with remote instruction delivered by ACS teachers from your child’s assigned school.  

    All ACS students will begin with remote learning under Plan C, at least through the first nine weeks (which concludes on October 23rd).  Therefore, we are not offering a Virtual Academy at this time.  We will be revisiting our Virtual Academy option prior to the end of the first nine weeks and will keep families informed.  

    Under Plan C: 

    • All instruction for students in Kindergarten - 12th Grade will be delivered remotely with a combination of scheduled, online, whole-class sessions, and independent at-home learning.  
    • Each day will consist of scheduled instructional sessions for classes in the morning and time in the afternoon for students to complete both individual and group work as well as meet with their teachers for additional support and feedback.
    • Teachers will be delivering instruction from their classrooms. 
    • Staff will be onsite and practicing proper safety measures.  This includes but will not be limited to staff remaining in their classrooms/offices as much as possible and wearing masks whenever they interact with other staff. 
    • sample remote learning school day table is below:  

    Schedule Class Time

    • Pre-Kindergarten: 
      • At this time, we will open on August 17th across all sites with reduced student capacity.  The Director of Preschool Programs, Susanna Smith, will soon be sharing additional information with enrolled preschool families.
      • Face coverings will be required and provided for every teacher, staff member and student.  Symptom screenings will take place each day, and frequent handwashing will be built into our daily schedules.  
    • Kindergarten - 5th Grade:  
      • Elementary school instruction will occur from 8:30 AM - 2:30 PM. 
      • Each day will begin with a morning community meeting. 
      • Core instruction, which consists of math, reading, science and social studies, will occur each day.  
      • Students will meet with one of their specialist teachers (P.E., art, music,etc.) each day.  
      • A specific remote learning schedule will be released by your child’s assigned school.  
    • 6th - 12th Grade: 
      • Middle school instruction will occur from 8:30 AM - 3:30 PM.  
        • Because our middle school schedule includes six blocks, real-time, online whole class sessions will occur from 8:30 - 1:30 PM.  A lunch break will be built in. 
        • Scheduled individual/small group support and office hours will occur from 1:30 - 3:30 PM. 
      • High school instruction will occur from 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM. 
        • Because our high school schedule includes four blocks, real-time, online whole class sessions will occur from 9:00 - 12:15 PM. 
        • Scheduled small group support and office hours will occur from 12:45 - 4:00 PM. 
      • A specific remote learning schedule will be released by your child’s assigned school.  
      • Schedules will be mailed by the second week of August. 

    How will Plan C differ from the at-home instruction that occurred in the spring? 

    • Remote learning for the 2020-21 school year will focus on review of prior knowledge, prior concepts and new learning as well as continued connections with teachers. Students and families should plan for rigorous expectations of engagement through instruction, work completion, and project-based learning that is closely aligned to in-person instruction. 
    • Attendance will be taken on a daily basis.
    • Student grading expectations will look similar to in-person expectations.  Grades will be entered into PowerSchool on a regular basis.
    • Similar to a traditional classroom experience, students will have daily access to their teachers. 
    • Teachers will provide feedback to both the student and the parent about the child’s learning progress. We will follow the district calendar for parent-teacher conferences.
    • The district is creating resources for parents and guardians who are assisting children with remote learning at home.

    Our goal and expectation is to resume face-to-face learning as soon as it is safely possible to do so.  Therefore, our current plan will be continuously evaluated and refined based on the latest guidance from Governor Cooper, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction and Buncombe County Health and Human Services.

  • July 28, 2020 

    Good Afternoon Students, Staff and Families.  This is Dr. Gene with additional updates about our Return to Learn plans. 

    As previously communicated, Asheville City Schools will start on August 17th, with at-home remote instruction for all students Kindergarten - 12th Grade.  Our district will be releasing a more detailed schedule for Plan C tomorrow, but in the meantime, thank you to several of our families who reached out, asking for more details following yesterday’s communication.  In response to your questions, we’ve compiled the following answers.  

    Question:  I know the district is starting under Plan C, but I need to return to work.  Do you have any suggestions about affordable childcare?

    • Answer: We understand many parents across our district must return to their place of business, which is complicated, as Asheville City Schools will begin the 2020-2021  school year with remote instruction.  If you are having trouble searching for childcare, Buncombe County Partnership for Children has put together this helpful map of all licensed child care centers across our county.  Additionally, please review these supportive community resources compiled by United Way.  

    Question:  Will Asheville City Schools continue serving meals while the district is under Plan C? 

    • Answer:  Our School Nutrition Department is committed to supporting our families by continuing to serve healthy meals to your children.  As we transition from our Summer Meals Program to the 2020-2021 school year, the department is seeking your feedback on meal pickup preferences.  This short survey is open now through Friday, July 31st.  Please understand it is intended to gauge interest in different serving models; due to USDA restriction, all options may not be available once the new school year begins.  But, our outstanding staff will continue to serve meals --- even if it is in an altered capacity.  Once we receive your valuable feedback as well as additional information from the state, we will share more. 

    Question:  How will Individual Educational Plans (IEPs) and Section 504 Plans be implemented in our Return to Learn plans? 

    • Answer:   Students with IEPs will receive services based on the child’s unique learning style and ACS’s reopening plan.  Addendum meetings will be scheduled either in person or virtually, as needed, to review and revise the IEP- to plan for the child’s programming.  Addendum IEP meetings will be scheduled to review the goals, services and supports needed as a result of the district’s reopening plan.  
    • Section 504 plans will be reviewed to ensure accommodations can be provided in line with remote learning. 

    Question:  Will Asheville City Schools be having Open Houses? 

    • Answer: Open House and orientation events are being planned now.  More information will be shared directly by your child’s school.  

    Question:  Originally, my high schooler signed up for dual-enrollment courses through Asheville-Buncombe Technical College.  Will that still be a possibility this fall? 

    • Answer:  Yes, dual enrollment courses with AB Tech will occur as scheduled.   

    Question:  Am I expected to buy a computer for my child to complete remote learning? 

    • Answer:  No.  Our Technology Department is dedicated to ensuring all students begin the 2020-2021 school year with a device that will allow them to successfully complete remote learning.  There is no need for your family to buy a separate computer/tablet for your child.  More information will soon be provided about picking up/replacing devices, chargers, hot spots, etc. 

    Question:  I am not a teacher. How can I effectively support my child as they learn remotely? 

    • Answer:  Asheville City Schools understands there’s a big difference between being a parent and being a full-time educator.  We are currently developing resources that will support you in this very difficult task.  

    Question: Will the ACS Preschool programs operate in-person?

    • Answer: Yes, the ACS Preschool programs will operate in-person at a reduced capacity beginning on August 17th. Director of Preschool Programs, Susanna Smith, will be sharing additional information with enrolled preschool families soon.
  • July 23, 2020

    Good Afternoon Asheville City Schools. This is Dr. Gene with an important update about our Return to Learn plans.

    After further consideration and hearing more from staff and families, Asheville City Schools has decided to move from Plan B to Plan C, at least through the first nine weeks. This means our schools will start on August 17th, with at-home remote instruction for all students Kindergarten - 12th Grade.

    According to Buncombe County Health and Human Services, our county’s COVID-19 numbers continue to accelerate. Therefore, we believe it’s imperative to have a slower reopening that allows us to carefully plan and maintain safety protocols for all campuses.

    Additional information, including a more detailed schedule for Plan C and Virtual Academy registration, will be released early next week. Again, all students Kindergarten - 12th Grade will begin with remote instruction on August 17th. 

  • July 22, 2020 

    Good Afternoon Students, Staff and Families.  This is Dr. Gene with additional information about our Return to Learn plans. 

    As a reminder, families will have two options for the 2020-2021 school year.  

    ACS Instructional Options

    The following communication pertains to Option 2, our full-time Virtual Academy. 

    Asheville City Schools is committed to offering a year-long virtual option for any student who wishes to complete all their assignments from home.  The Virtual Academy is intended to serve students who do not plan to transition back to face-to-face learning at any point during the 2020-2021 school year. 

    Previously, this option was geared toward our rising Kindergarten - 6th Graders, as our rising 7th - 12th Graders are already beginning the year under a remote learning model.  However, after hearing your feedback, Asheville City Schools’ Virtual Academy will now be extended Kindergarten - 12th Grade.  

    As you know, our hope is to have all students back in the classroom at some point this school year; however, we also want to be mindful of the unique needs and circumstances of all of our families and give each one the opportunity to have their child complete all assignments from home regardless of their grade.  Therefore, if this is an option your family is considering, please take note: 

    • The Virtual Academy will be carried out using an online platform. 
      • Kindergarten - 5th Grade:  Edmentum’s Calvert Learning 
      • 6th - 8th Grade: Edmentum’s Courseware
      • 9th - 12th Grade: North Carolina Virtual Public School
    • For rising Kindergarten - 8th Graders, an Asheville City Schools teacher will facilitate this instruction; however, the teacher may not be from your child’s assigned school.  For students in 9th - 12th Grade, teachers will be assigned through North Carolina Virtual Public School. 
    • The curriculum for the Asheville City Schools Virtual Academy will be aligned to the state standards but will use different materials, methods, and timelines than the instruction that will be taught through our Plan B hybrid model. 
    • There will be opportunities for differentiation to serve students' individual academic needs, hands-on exploratory learning and independent projects. 
    • By carrying out the Virtual Academy, please know our top priorities include providing learning opportunities that balance both screen time and hands-on engagement with the curriculum.

    Will you be holding a Virtual Academy information session?

    Yes.  Additional guidelines and our registration form will be released by next Wednesday, July 29th.  Following its release, Asheville City Schools will be hosting a Virtual Academy information session on Tuesday, August 4th at 5:30 PM.  It will take place on the district’s Facebook page, @AVLCitySchools.  In addition to answering questions from the feed’s comment section, you may also submit questions beforehand here that will be answered during the live information session.  

    Will my child be in front of a computer screen if we select the Virtual Academy? 

    Hearing your concerns, please understand that choosing to have your child participate in the Virtual Academy will not mean they will be in front of a computer screen for the duration of the entire school day.  However, selecting the Virtual Academy will require additional support from an adult, parent or guardian, who will serve as your child’s At-Home Learning Coach.  The At-Home Learning Coach will support their child in completing assignments, hands-on activities, research, project-based learning activities as well as computer-based lessons.  Please see the table below for grade-specific information. 

    Adult Learning Coach

    If we select the Virtual Academy is it for the whole year? 

    The Virtual Academy is intended to serve students who do not plan to transition back to face-to-face learning at any point during the 2020-2021 school year. 

    Our family does not wish to utilize the Virtual Academy option. Is there anything we need to do? 

    No.  It will be an opt-in model that will require registration.  

    Thank you for your continued support of Asheville City Schools.  I will continue to provide you with additional Return to Learn updates as they become available.

  • July 16, 2020 

    Good Afternoon Students, Staff and Families.  This is Ashley-Michelle Thublin, Executive Director of Communications, with some additional information about our Return to Learn Plan. 

    As Dr. Gene shared in yesterday’s update, one of our top priorities is transparency; our goal is to release more information about the steps we’re taking to ensure a safe reopening just as soon as it becomes available.  Therefore, please know this plan is a living document and will be updated as more decisions are finalized.  However, for now, you can:  

    • Learn more about what a typical day will look for both in-person and virtual learning through our Curriculum and Instruction Department Update.

    •  Review the continued efforts of our Student Services Department to bridge the gap between our homes, schools and communities.

    • Understand the additional safety protocols that will be implemented on your child’s bus ride. 

    • Learn more about our added sanitation procedures, which will be especially important once our students and staff members return. 

    In addition to compiling the information in a one-stop-shop presentation, we’ve also made short videos.  Each one covers a unique topic.  Links for each one can be found below: 

    Thank you for your continued support of Asheville City Schools, especially as we’re working through so many unknowns.  Now more than ever, your thoughts, feedback and suggestions are invaluable.  I hope you have a wonderful rest of your evening, and, of course, Cougar Pride! 

  • July 15, 2020 

    Good Afternoon Students, Staff and Families.  This is Dr. Gene with some additional information regarding our Return to Learn Plan. 

    First and foremost, thank you to several of our families who reached out, asking for more details following yesterday’s communication.  In response to your questions, we’ve compiled the following answers.  

    Question:  My child falls in the category of a rising Kindergartener - 6th Grader.  When will I learn if they’re attending Week A or Week B? 

    • Answer:  Our elementary and middle school principals will inform your family as to whether your child will be attending Week A or Week B by Friday, July 31st. 

    Question:  I understand that Asheville City Schools is opting to continue with remote instruction for rising 7th - 12th Graders.  Will this be for the entire year? 

    • Answer:  Our goal is for rising 7th and 8th Graders to begin our Plan B, hybrid model following the first nine-week period.  Our goal is for high school students to start transitioning to Plan B at the start of the second semester.  These plans are subject to change and will be contingent on the latest guidance from Governor Cooper, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction as well as the Buncombe County Health Department at the time of the anticipated transition.   

    Question:  During Governor Cooper’s July 14th announcement, he said all schools could utilize the hybrid model.  Why is Asheville City Schools continuing to access remote instruction for rising 7th - 12th Graders? 

    • Regardless of which school your child attends, minimizing the number of students of any given campus will be key in stopping the spread of COVID-19.  Due to the unique layouts of Asheville Middle School, Montford North Star Academy, and the Asheville High School & SILSA campus, we believe it’s imperative to have a slower reopening plan that allows us to carefully plan and maintain safety protocols for campuses, taking in account the movement required in the 7th-12th Grade student schedules and higher teacher to student ratio in classrooms. 
    • Each middle and high school student has an individual schedule, tailor-made to fit their unique academic needs and interests.  This means our students don’t move throughout the building as an entire class.  Therefore, it’s incredibly difficult to maintain required social distancing throughout the school day for each and every student.
    • Our rising 7th - 12th Graders are the most familiar with a remote learning environment, as their at-home learning started with CANVAS classrooms on March 17th.  Our 2019-2020 elementary students began their at-home learning with paper packets and only began transitioning to some virtual learning in April. 

    Question:  My child falls into the category of a rising 7th - 12th Grader.  When will I know if their schedule has changed because their classes are now remote? 

    • Traditionally, students receive their schedules by the second week of August. Consistent with our traditional timeline, students will know which classes they are taking when they receive their schedule. Additionally, that is also when they will learn whether one or more of their classes includes optional, in-person lab hours that will occur on their middle or high school’s campus. 

    Question:  Has a screening protocol been established for when students and staff members arrive at school? 

    • If there is a positive diagnosis amongst one of our students or staff members, we will notify the Buncombe County Health and Human Services (as required by NCGS § 130A-136) and work with them to follow their procedures such as contact tracing. 
    • Asheville City Schools will follow the directions shared by Buncombe County Health and Human Service to carry out their recommendations for contacting students, staff and families as well as their specific cleaning protocols.
    • We will consult with our local health department to determine whether they believe closing a classroom or an entire campus is required.  Please take note that there may be no need to close the school if BCHHS determines that close contacts are excluded and there is sufficient space to continue normal operations.

    Again, I’d like to reiterate that we fully understand that no Return to Learn Plan is perfect.  However, we are dedicated to keeping our students and staff members safe, educating your children and being as transparent as possible.  We look forward to sharing more with you about our sanitation and transportation protocols, the actions we’ve put in place to support your child’s mental health as well as what your child’s day could look like in the next few days.

  • July 14, 2020 

    Good Afternoon Students, Staff and Families.  This is Dr. Gene with an important update about our district. 

    Earlier this afternoon, Governor Cooper announced that all school districts across the state have the option to start under a Plan B model.  At this time, our schools will open on August 17th for in-person instruction but with additional restrictions for social distancing.  As explained by Governor Cooper, only half a school’s student body can report on any given day. On the days that a student does not report to school, they will utilize remote learning.  

    A few weeks ago, I shared the scenarios our Reopening Task Force are currently working through.  After hearing from several families and staff members as well as the Asheville City Board of Education, I wanted to let you know that Asheville City Schools will indeed be utilizing the Plan B model we previously shared.  This means: 

    • Pre-Kindergarten 
      • At this time, we plan to open on August 17th across all sites with reduced capacity.  Enrolled families will receive additional information from our Pre-K Director in the coming weeks. 
      • Face coverings will be required and provided for every teacher, staff member and student.  Symptom screenings will take place each day, and frequent handwashing will be built into our daily schedules.  
    • Kindergarten - 6th Grade:  
      • Face coverings will be required and provided for every teacher, staff member and student.  Symptom screenings will take place each day, and frequent handwashing will be built into our daily schedules.  
      • Classes will be split, with half of our students meeting in person one week and the other half meeting in person the following week.  On the weeks when a student is not meeting in person, they will utilize live, virtual whole class sessions and at-home instruction, which will greatly increase communication with teachers.  
      • At each grade level, some of the teachers are assigned face-to-face instruction and others are assigned to teach live, virtual whole class sessions. 
      • Following the normal bell schedule, face-to-face teachers will focus on: 
        • Introducing new concepts and skills
        • Direct instruction 
        • Classroom-based and hands-on activities 
      • Working on a modified schedule, virtual teachers will focus on: 
        • Reinforcement of learning 
        • Small group and individual support 
        • Pre-teaching concepts for face-to-face teaching 
      • After receiving your valuable feedback, please know we’ll do our very best to ensure that, if your family has multiple children in Kindergarten - 6th Grade, their in-person and at-home instruction weeks will be the same.  Although we cannot guarantee it, school and district based leaders are currently working through plans that will allow us to best meet your needs.  
    • 7th - 12th Grade: 
      • Middle and high school students will continue to access at-home learning, partnering live, virtual whole class sessions and CANVAS lessons.
      • Understanding that many of our older students care for younger siblings or other family members, lessons will also be recorded for access outside of the regularly scheduled school day. 
      • Middle school instruction will occur from 8:30 AM - 3:30 PM.  
        • Because our middle school schedule includes six blocks, live, online whole class sessions will occur from 8:30 - 1:30 PM.  A lunch break will be built in. 
        • Small group support and office hours will occur from 1:30 - 3:30 PM. 
      • High school instruction will occur from 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM. 
        • Because our high school schedule includes four blocks, live, online whole class sessions will occur from 9:00 - 12:00 PM. 
        • Small group support and office hours will occur from 12:30 - 4:00 PM. 
      • Students will participate in both whole class instructional periods and be provided with opportunities to meet with their instructors independently in small groups for additional support.
    • Staff is onsite and practicing proper safety measures.  This includes but will not be limited to staff remaining in their classrooms as much as possible and wearing masks whenever they interact with other staff or students. 

    Additionally, I want to reiterate that I am committed to offering a virtual option for any student who wishes to complete all their assignments from home.  As you begin to decide what is best for your child and family, please know that we have shared a survey with our rising Kindergarten - 6th Grade families asking whether they plan to send their children to school, or if they would like to utilize 100% remote learning.  The online platform will be coupled with an Asheville City Schools teacher for complete virtual instruction.  Knowing there are still many unknowns regarding COVID-19, please know that selecting an option does not “lock-in” your family.  At this time, we are simply gathering information, which will allow us to properly plan.  Parents can decide which option is best for their family through the first day of school.  Thank you to the more than 1,400 families that have already completed our latest survey. If you have not had a chance to do so, please take note that it has been extended through Friday, July 17th. 

    Thank you for your support of Asheville City Schools.  Now that Governor Cooper has decided how our district can safely reopen, we can begin finalizing our plans for operations, transportation, school nutrition and day-to-day instruction. Please know I will continue to be in touch as these decisions are made. 

  • July 9, 2020 

    Good Afternoon Students, Staff and Families.  This is Dr. Gene with an update about our district’s return to learn plan. 

    Like school districts across the state, Asheville City Schools is awaiting Governor Cooper's guidance as to what a safe return to school will look like this fall. 

    As you know from previous communications, if Governor Cooper selects Option B, our current plan is for students in Kindergarten - 6th Grade to return to school, alternating weekly face-to-face instruction with remote learning.  Students in 7th - 12th Grade will complete all work remotely.  

    Although there are still many unknowns, our district is gathering more information from our rising Kindergarten - 6th Grade families if Plan B is selected. 

    Therefore, please take a few minutes and complete this short survey to indicate whether your family plans to send your children to school, or if you would like to utilize 100% remote learning if schools are operating in a face-to-face setting.  Please know that parents who select the 100% remote learning option for their child are asked to commit to full-time, remote learning through December 2020.  

    The survey will close next Wednesday, July 15th. 

    Thank you for your continued support of Asheville City Schools, and should your family have any questions about our survey, please call (828) 350-6120. 

  • June 25, 2020

    Good Afternoon Students, Staff and Families.  This is Dr. Gene with an update about our district’s return-to-school plans. 

    As you may know, Governor Cooper and the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services will determine how our schools can safely reopen on or before next Wednesday, July 1st.  Like school districts across North Carolina, Asheville City Schools is closely monitoring our state and county’s COVID-19 metrics and is anxiously awaiting further guidance as to what this fall may look like. 

    At this time, Governor Cooper and the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services have released interim guidance, which includes three plans.  Based on state and regional COVID-19 metrics, they will recommend which plan Asheville City Schools should utilize. 

    • Plan A is the least restrictive reopening model and requires minimal social distancing.  It most closely resembles a traditional start to school. 
    • Plan B adds additional restrictions for social distancing and explains that no more than half a school’s student body can report on any given day. On the days that a student did not report to school, they would utilize remote learning.  
    • Plan C suspends all in-person instruction, meaning our district would continue to utilize  remote learning for all students.  As coronavirus numbers continue to increase across the state, we cannot downplay the possibility of having a complete virtual model. 

    Although we still have another week before the governor finalizes his recommendations, I wanted to keep you as informed as possible and let you know the scenarios our Reopening Task Force are currently working through.  

    Please know that these scenarios were created based on the feedback of the more than 700 families who completed our latest at-home learning survey.  Thank you for your invaluable feedback!  

    Additionally, these plans are contingent upon input from the Asheville City Board of Education who is meeting on Tuesday, June 30th. 

     

    Format

    Logistics

    Plan A

    All Face-to-Face

    • Return to school at full capacity with all staff and students in middle and high school wearing masks.  Additionally, all students, staff and faculty members would practice proper social distancing. 

    Plan B

    Alternating Remote/

    On-Site Weeks 

    • Staff is onsite and practicing proper safety measures.  This includes but would not be limited to staff remaining in their classrooms as much as possible and wearing masks whenever they interacted with other staff or students. 
    • Pre-K - 6th Grade:  
      • Classes would be split, with half of our students meeting in person one week and the other half meeting in person the following week.  On the weeks when a student is not meeting in person, they would utilize live, virtual whole class sessions and  at-home instruction, which would greatly increase communication with teachers.  
    • 7th - 12th Grade: 
      • Middle and high school students would continue to access at-home learning, partnering live, virtual whole class sessions and CANVAS lessons.
      • Understanding that many of our older students care for younger siblings or other family members, lessons would be also recorded for access outside of the regularly scheduled school day. 
      • Middle school instruction would occur from 8:30 AM - 3:30 PM.  
        • Live, online whole class sessions would occur from 8:30 - 1:30 PM.  A lunch break would be built in. 
        • Small group support and office hours would occur from 1:30 - 3:30 PM. 
      • High school instruction would occur from 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM. 
        • Live, online whole class sessions would occur from 9:00 - 12:00 PM. 
        • Small group support and office hours would occur from 12:30 - 4:00 PM. 
      • Students will participate in both whole class instructional periods and be provided with opportunities to meet with their instructors independently in small groups for additional support. 

    Plan C

    All Remote

    • Staff is onsite and practicing proper safety measures.  This includes but would not be limited to staff remaining in their classrooms as much as possible and wearing masks whenever they interacted with other staff. 
    • All lessons would be completed remotely.  In order to most closely resemble a traditional classroom, lessons would include live, virtual whole class sessions and at-home instruction that would occur from 8:00 AM - 2:30 PM for elementary students, 8:30 AM - 3:30 PM for middle schoolers and 9:00 - 4:00 PM for high schoolers.  Understanding that many of our older students care for younger siblings or other family members, lessons would be also recorded for access outside of the regularly scheduled school day. 

    Additionally, please know that I hear and understand that many of our families are concerned about an in-person return to school with so many unknowns about COVID-19.  Therefore, should Governor Cooper decide our district should utilize Plan A or Plan B, I am committed to offering a virtual option for any student who wishes to complete all their assignments from home.  As you begin to decide what is best for your child and family, please know that should he select Plan A or Plan B, our principals will be sending more information and a survey asking how your child will complete instruction this fall. 

    I fully understand that no plan is perfect; however, I can tell you that my number one priority is keeping our students and staff members safe.  My second is redesigning our current structures for teaching, learning and operations.  Hearing your feedback, please know that the Reopening Task Force is creating consistent expectations across our schools to ensure our return will be as smooth as possible, regardless of which plan is selected.  

    Have a wonderful evening, and thank you for your continued support of Asheville City Schools. 

  • June 12, 2020

    Good Afternoon Students, Staff and Families.  This is Dr. Gene, Asheville City Schools. 

    As you may have seen, Governor Cooper and the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services released interim guidance about districts reopening in the fall.  While we certainly appreciate their concerted efforts, I wanted to let you know that the plan, while a huge step in the right direction, still leaves us with many unknowns.  

    As I shared, our district has established a Reopening Task Force made up of elementary, middle and high school representatives as well as district leadership.  They’re meeting each week to work through potential barriers we could face when school returns and, most importantly, ensure we will be able to keep our students and staff safe. 

    Start of the 2020-2021 School Year: 

    From our discussion, the Curriculum and Instruction Department has drafted four scenarios that could be carried out for the start of the 2020-2021 school year.  Again, at this point, these are all just possibilities, and our final plan may be a hybrid of two or more listed options. 

     

     

    Format

    Logistics

    Option 1

    All face-to-face

    • Return to school at full capacity with staff wearing masks and all students, staff and faculty members practicing proper social distancing 

    Option 2

    Alternating Remote/

    On-site Days

    • Staff is onsite and practicing proper safety measures.  This includes but would not be limited to staff remaining in their classrooms as much as possible and wearing masks whenever they interacted with other staff. 
    • No meetings would take place involving more than 10 people. 
    • Pre-K - 12th Grade: 
      • Classes would be split, with half of our students meeting in person one day and the other half meeting in person on the next day.  On the days when a student was not meeting in person, they would utilize at-home instruction. Fridays would be completely remote for all students. 
      • Classes would be split, with half of our students meeting in person one week and the other half meeting in person the next week.  On the weeks when a student was not meeting in person, they would utilize at-home instruction.
    • Lessons would be of a hybrid model.  Both asynchronous and synchronous lessons would be given and recorded for access outside of the regularly scheduled school day. 

    Option 3

    Pre-K -5th Grade on site and 6th -12th Grade remotely

    • Staff is onsite and practicing proper safety measures.  This includes but would not be limited to staff remaining in their classrooms as much as possible and wearing masks whenever they interacted with other staff. 
    • No meetings would take place involving more than 10 people.
    • Pre-K - 5th Grade instruction would occur in person on Asheville City Schools campuses. 
    • 6th - 12th Graders would continue to access at-home learning using Google classroom and CANVAS lessons. 

    Option 4

    All Remote

    • Staff is onsite and practicing proper safety measures.  This includes but would not be limited to staff remaining in their classrooms as much as possible and wearing masks whenever they interacted with other staff. 
    • No meetings would take place involving more than 10 people.
    • All lessons would be done remotely and would combine both asynchronous and synchronous instruction.  Understanding that many of our older students care for younger siblings or other family members, lessons would be recorded for access outside of the regularly scheduled school day. 

    The Governor’s Office and the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services NCDHHS, in consultation with the North Carolina State Board of Education and the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, will determine how schools can reopen safely for the 2020-21 school year based on the state’s COVID-19 metrics by July 1st, 2020.  Like school districts across the state, Asheville City Schools is busy preparing for the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year but also anxiously awaiting further guidance. 

    School Calendar: 

    Next year’s school calendar is one of the other items we’ve been looking at.  The North Carolina General Assembly has amended 2020-2021 calendars for all public school districts across the state.  According to Senate Bill 704, all districts must: 

     

    • Have a school calendar that remains at 215 days total. 
    • Increase the number of instructional hours their students receive by five days.  This means all calendars must now consist of either 1,055 hours or 190 days. 
    • Ensure their new calendar includes five remote instructional days.  Currently, remote instruction days cannot begin prior to August 24th. 
    • Name August 17, 2020 as their first day of school. 
    • End on or before June 11, 2021. 

    Of course, Asheville City Schools is included in this new mandate; therefore, we’ve altered our original 2020-2021 calendar that was approved by the Board of Education this past February.  After hearing from representatives from each of our schools, the district put together an amended calendar that will go before the Asheville City Board of Education for final approval on Tuesday, June 30th. 

    Additional Items: 

    Additional considerations we’re currently working through include but are not limited to: 

     

    • Transportation:  Each route could take two to three runs to complete, and buses would need to be cleaned between each run.  Therefore, questions we’re currently asking is how early would routes need to begin, and how late would each route run? 
    • Child Nutrition:  We are still unclear as to whether or not our School Nutrition Staff will be able to utilize the cafeteria.  If not, students would eat both breakfast and lunch in their classrooms each day. 
    • Maintenance:  Asheville City Schools has currently purchased 50,000 masks for students and staff to begin school in fall 2020.  However, because every school district across the country is too facing the lasting impacts of COVID-19, there could be difficulty in locating additional personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies as we need to replenish our supplies. 
    • Safety:  Because several of our campuses contain multiple entrances or several hallways each with their own unique set of doors, we’re examining how we can reduce the number of entries and cut down on the amount of times a door needs to be touched while still keeping our students and staff members safe. 

    Again, please know that this is not an exhaustive list but will give you an idea as to the types of scenarios our staff are currently working through.  Please know that my commitment is to keep you as informed as possible as more is known. 

    Thank you for your continued support of Asheville City Schools. 



  • June 11, 2020

    Good Afternoon Students, Staff and Families. This is Shane Cassida, Assistant Superintendent of Auxiliary Services, calling with an update about athletics. 

    As you may have heard, the North Carolina High School Athletic Association will lift its dead period starting Monday, June 15th.  This means Monday will be the first day student-athletes can begin practice statewide.  

    After meeting with each school’s athletic director and Buncombe County Health and Human Services, it’s been determined that our high school student-athletes can safely resume limited workouts beginning as early as next Tuesday, June 16th.  Middle school student-athletes will start back with practice on Monday, July 6th.  

    In order to make our return to play as safe as possible, please understand that all coaches will be meeting with parents prior to their child’s first day of practice.  Your child’s coach will be in touch with you individually about the time of your meeting.  In addition to going over guidelines from the North Carolina High School Athletic Association and Asheville City Schools, each team will share its detailed safety plan.  Parents will also receive a consent form, which must be signed before your child can participate in their first practice. 

    Additionally, please understand that although we will be having limited workouts, our student-athletes and coaches will be abiding by all social distancing protocols.  Practices will include no more than 25 students at a time, and each group of 25 will be divided into further practice pods of between five to 10 student-athletes.  Facilities that will be utilized include both Asheville High School and Asheville Middle School’ track and field as well as both Asheville High School and Asheville Middle School’s gym.  The weight rooms, locker rooms and mat rooms will not be used at this time. 

    Upon arrival, each athlete will have their temperature taken each and every day by a health professional.  Coaches, staff and managers will wear cloth face coverings at all times as well as maintain six feet of social distancing  Our student-athletes will also wear a face mask when they are not actively engaged in physical activity; face masks will not be worn during rigorous workouts because we don’t want to inhibit your child’s ability to breath, especially during running and high aerobic activity, but students will continue to maintain social distancing throughout practice.  If your child does not have a mask or forgets their mask at home, one will be provided for them. 

    In addition to our student-athletes and staff wearing personal protective equipment, please know that each location will have hand-washing stations for students and staff members to use.  Routine hand-washing will be practiced during each workout session. 

    Furthermore, we are asking parents to partner with us in discouraging your child from meeting with fellow student-athletes following practice.  We know and certainly understand their desire to be with their friends after so much time apart, but our top priority is keeping our students safe, and unfortunately, that means continuing to practice proper social distancing and limiting the amount of time we’re with people who do not live within our household. 

    Thank you for your continued support of Asheville City Schools and our Cougar Athletics.  I know this is not the ideal return, but we’re excited our student-athletes will have the opportunity to practice and prepare.  Should you or your family have any questions, please feel free to call (828) 350-6131.  Have a wonderful rest of your evening, and Cougar Pride!