Message From the Principal

Principal Cheryl Simmers has released the following statement:

Rowanty Update #4

Good afternoon all! As always, I am trying to stay in the loop with all three counties, because their choices affect our instruction at Rowanty. I recognize the fear in all parents’ and students’ voices. Unfortunately, I can’t eliminate all of the fear. But, I can certainly do my best to help lower the fear threshold. I would like to preface everything I am about to say with, “This is today’s world. Tomorrow’s world could change. With that, our plans will change accordingly.”

Right now, I know this to be true: Dinwiddie will be operating on a hybrid plan or all virtual plan, with family’s choice. I have spoken with Dinwiddie administration. They are trying to guarantee Rowanty students three days a week on-campus, so students will be able to receive the hands-on instruction they need to move forward and be prepared for their future jobs. If an in-school option is available for your child, this should be the choice. All Rowanty programs require students to complete a minimum of 80% of the competencies for each program.

I also know that it is possible/probable that Sussex may go all-virtual for the first nine weeks. I also know that a final decision has not been publicized. (This is one of those “today’s reality” situations). I am currently working on plans to help my Sussex students if this happens. Please know we will be recording all class sessions. I also realize that Internet connections are spotty in much of the county. I will speak more toward opportunities for my Sussex students once I have a few days to figure it out. Please know I am trying to be as transparent as possible, so you will feel more comfortable having your child come to Rowanty.

For Prince George, I know that parents have two choices on the survey: all virtual, all in-school. Please make sure that you seriously consider the all in-school option if your student plans to attend Rowanty. Many of our programs are governed by outside organizations that have additional requirements we have to meet. I also do understand the fear of your child being in the school buildings. I can reassure you regarding the planned procedures at Rowanty, but I can’t speak to the high schools’ policies.

As of today, the procedure for students will be to arrive at Rowanty. Each student will report to a program assigned door. Each student will be required to wear a face covering (e.g., mask, face shield, gaiter) before they are allowed in the building. Each instructor, with a face covering, will take the temperature of each student before they are allowed to enter the building. If a student has a temperature in the danger zone (to be determined), the student will be redirected and placed in an isolation area until someone arrives to pick them up. The isolation area will be sanitized when the student leaves.

Please note that we are giving students options for the face covering they may wear. Regardless of their choice, the face covering must completely cover their nose and mouth. Rowanty will be providing a cloth mask that can be left at school so it can be UV sanitized regularly. Students will still need to provide their own face covering for entry and exit of the building. As I have stated before, we respect family and individual choices regarding face coverings. However, we must require face coverings to help increase our ability to protect all of our students. Any help parents can give will be greatly appreciated.

Once the students arrive at their classrooms, they will be required to place their cell phone (if they have one) in our cell phone pocket hanging storage. Each child will have his/her own labeled slot for their cell phone, Rowanty mask, and safety glasses. Rowanty has always required that cell phones not be accessible during class time for safety reasons. This is not a change of policy. Classrooms will be locked if the class heads to the shop. Students will NOT be allowed in the classroom if they are working in the shop. Safety glasses and masks will have identifying marks placed on them before they are sanitized in the UV chambers. They will be placed in each individual student’s pocket once sanitizing is complete. Each program will have its own UV sanitizing chamber. In addition to face coverings, each table/desk seat will have a three-sided high impact plastic desk shield. We will be determining the policies of face coverings when students are sitting at their desks, provided the desk shield is in use. Research is being completed to determine if these desk shields will be enough protection for your students while seated.

Air purifiers have been purchased and should be installed before school starts. These air purifiers will help increase the quality of the air that is moved throughout the classrooms and labs. These air purifiers have multi-level filtering systems. I am also investigating additional equipment to be attached to our HVAC system to help ionize and sanitize the air as it is sent through our systems. This will be an additional line of defense. Last, I will be purchasing shop fans so we can circulate air in our shops better. These measures have been taken because some studies show that filtering and ventilation can help improve the quality of air to minimize airborne particles ability to circulate.

Our regular sanitizing procedures will be as follows. Bathrooms will be sanitized multiple times daily. Water fountains will be out of service, but students will be allowed to use the bottle fillers if they have their own water bottles. Snack machines, specifically, will be removed to minimize sharing of food and congregating in the common area. Food items will not be allowed in the classrooms at all. All surfaces will be sanitized daily.

All classrooms will be thoroughly sanitized twice a day, between classes and at the end of the day. All staff will be provided with appropriate cleaning supplies. These supplies are hospital/nursing grade level. These supplies were selected because of their ability to kill viruses. Door handles, general areas, and computers will also be sanitized. We will have anti-bacterial soaps in all of our restrooms and hand sanitizer dispensing units throughout the building. We encourage students to have their own hand sanitizer if it makes them feel more comfortable, but it may not be shared between students.

Teachers will be recording their classes daily and the lectures will be available via Google Classroom. We are also working on ways to record demonstrations in the shop. While we will do our best to make this learning as seamless as we can, I am certain we will have bumps in the road. I hope that our parents and students will be patient and provide us constructive feedback. I know it will be difficult, but if we are all working from the same page I believe we can make this year more positive than the end of last year. More information regarding the instruction piece will be provided but I wanted to give you all details on the health plan.

We are still working on the response piece if we have a student or staff member that is exposed or tests positive for COVID-19. Just know we take this as seriously as we do the sanitizing and PPE. It is CRITICAL for you to make sure we have a current email address and phone number. We will be utilizing those to keep all parents/guardians informed. Each year we struggle with having correct demographics and health information for each student. This is another area that we hope our parents can assist.

I realize this is a lot of information to take in, but I hope you can see that Rowanty is very serious about the safety of our students and staff. Our Rowanty staff feels comfortable about starting the year in the building and are anxious to have your students here. As I stated, I am extremely transparent with our procedures. I realize everything isn’t fleshed out, but I believe we have a good start to a school year. We are trying to focus on what we can do rather than what we can’t do. We may do some unconventional things as we work through this “new normal,” but know that our number one goal is to keep everyone as safe as we can.

Again, please feel free to email me at or call at 434-246-5741.

Cheryl Simmers

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