School Opening Update

Principal Cheryl Simmers released the following final update before the opening of school:

Hello all!

I sit here at Rowanty today working on all the last bits of things that need to be completed. It is quiet in the building, but I do have a few people around doing the same thing. As much as educators would love to take today and rest, most of us are still moving forward to get our tasks done. I guarantee you that the majority of teachers are trying to ease their own fears, just like you. Please take a minute today, if you can, to think of the teachers and send them positive energy. While we know there will be bumps in the road everywhere tomorrow, please know we will hit those potholes and keep going.

For our Rowanty family, I wanted to ease everyone’s minds. We are well-equipped to deal with whatever is thrown our way. We have discussed possible problems and how we will respond. My trusted staff is used to dealing with whatever happens. We just ask that you be patient and give them the moment they may need to determine the best course of action. Believe me, we are transparent and will tell you if it is something we can’t fix right that second.

For our online Rowanty family members, please do not think we have forgotten you. We have chosen to tape our classes and upload them to Google Classroom, instead of meeting live. We understand that many of you may not have Internet strong enough to support live feeds. We also know that there are students still without devices and Internet service at all. Last, we are not comfortable with the quality of the live feed from Zoom versus a recording. Teachers will be contacting you the first week of school to help you get connected. Unfortunately, we don’t receive demographic information until the last minute due to last minute schedule changes, etc. We wait until the counselors feel they have everything in place.

My IT Coordinator is working on all of the new accounts for first time students at Rowanty. For my second-year students, your email address and password has not changed. Your instructor will have your information available. If you are virtual, please email them if you have forgotten. It is not a problem at all.

I want all of the family to know how our online presence will be used this year. Every student will have a Google classroom account. The teachers will send out “invites” for their classes once we have the email addresses completed. Teachers will be uploading their daily videos and all assignments. Any resource available (PowerPoints, handouts, pictures, etc.) will be uploaded as well. Every student will then be able to download anything they need to their individual Google Drive and be able to access the information without Internet service.

Our teachers are using Samsung tablets to record their lessons. This will make it easier for them to be mobile and ensure our students don’t miss anything, if they aren’t here in-person. I will warn you the first week will be trial and error, so please give my teachers a bit of grace. They have tested recording with their tablets, so our fingers are crossed all will go well. Also, our instruction in our shops and labs will be recorded. We want to make sure our students have the full experience, short of standing there in-person.

We are asking all families to have their student bring their Chromebook, tablet, etc. with them each day to Rowanty fully charged and ready to go. This way they will be able to access Google Classroom and any other program they need to use. If your student has not been assigned a device, we will work with them the first week of school. We have subscribed to a number of online content-specific software, so it will be extremely helpful for them to have their own device, rather than using one of ours in the classroom. We want to make sure that your students are technologically sound in all facets of our online instruction. This is critical in case we run into circumstances that require virtual instruction to become widespread again.

I have been watching social media and realize that it appears that transportation may be the biggest obstacle for our families. As my previous update indicated, Rowanty has limited parking and does not guarantee driving privileges. There are certain things for which we will not approve driving. We do know who originally requested virtual education and those that requested in-school education. We realize that more students are accessing virtual education, but we also know schools are working with students regarding transportation.

Please know that transportation is the home high school’s responsibility. Rowanty has no obligation to notify any parent regarding transportation. We made a compromise this year to help the schools with the overloaded bus situation. Know that we have never granted long-term driving privileges to students unless they have a documented health problem from their physician. We do have limited parking, so any message from your home school that indicated that driving was a guaranteed option for your student was incorrect. Rowanty notified all school divisions that driving and parking was limited and that there would be a process to follow for approval.

I know that parents and students have received mixed messages from individuals. We at Rowanty have tried to clear up as many of these mixed messages as we can. We hope we have reached most people through our website and Facebook page. Unfortunately, we don’t have the same access to robocall information this early in our year. Our demographic information is just being updated now. You will, in the future, be notified via robocall to check our website for information. We know everyone has a different preference for notification, so we do also use Facebook. Last, know you can always email a staff member at their Rowanty email address. Please do not use Facebook Messenger for official school questions. We do not monitor that regularly.

Because of the mixed messages many families have received, we are anticipating some problems in the morning regarding transportation. Families that have received official approval emails are on a list that our staff will access when the student arrives. The students will be directed to the appropriate parking location. Students not on this list will be directed to a different location on campus so we can determine the problem. Drop off students should be brought to the front entrance of the school and wait in the car for the pre-entry temperature check before entry.

Students that are driving or brought by bus will enter through their program outside entrance. This is where the pre-entry temperature check will take place. Any student with a temperature of 100 degrees or more will be directed to where they need to go, so our school nurse can evaluate them. Parents/guardians will be contacted and will be told the next steps. We are hoping we won’t have to worry about this tomorrow, but please know we are prepared.

Be assured your student will not have to deal with any problem that occurs in the arrival process tomorrow. We will make it work. We want the first day to go smoothly for them.

For tomorrow, we would expect our students to arrive with the following:

  • A fully charged device, if available
  • A face covering that MUST be worn properly (over face and nose) at all times on Rowanty property
  • A three-ring notebook with paper or some other type of notebook (marbled composition books are great for general note-taking)
  • Writing implements (pens, pencils, etc.)
  • Abide by standard school dress code and NO OPEN TOE SHOES OR SLIPPERS

Rules and policies will be discussed with students tomorrow. They will be repeated regularly to ensure all students understand the faculty and staff are on the same page. The student handbook and forms that will need to be completed will be available on our website and in Google classroom as fillable PDFs. We also will provide students without access hard copies. We are attempting to embrace our virtual world this year, so most of our information will be online. There will be an opportunity for you to let your student’s teacher know if you need information provided in an alternative form.

Please know that transportation is the home high school’s responsibility. Rowanty has no obligation to notify any parent regarding transportation. We made a compromise this year to help the schools with the overloaded bus situation. Know that we have never granted long-term driving privileges to students unless they have a documented health problem from their physician.

As I wrap up this message, please make sure that Rowanty has your current email address and phone number on file. We are unable to contact you until you provide this information on the demographic form we will be posting on our website.

We thank you for all of your patience in this process. I hope this message provides you with the information you need to start school tomorrow. Please feel free to call at 434.246.5741 with questions. If no one answers, please leave a voicemail or email your questions to We will get back with you, but we know that tomorrow will be crazy.

Let’s all try to stay positive and focus on what we can do. It is amazing what we can all do when we choose to not be negative. Best wishes!

Cheryl Simmers

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