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Here's how schools will operate in-person and virtually this year

The big news Monday was that the Henderson County School Board voted to make masks optional in schools for students and staff. Behind that is a lot of detail about how the school year will work, including virtual school options. Here's the information from the school system.

The board voted to make face coverings optional indoors at the start of the new school year, though they will still be required on buses, vans, and other group school transportation, following the CDC’s Order. The board also approved district leaders’ recommendation to provide virtual learning options based on students’ grade level, to accommodate younger students not yet able to receive the COVID-19 vaccine under current age restrictions and older students whose families prefer the remote-only option once face coverings are no longer required.

Virtual Learning Options

Students who choose a virtual learning option will be attending school entirely online, as the virtual learning options are not designed to serve a hybrid student population this year. To provide district staff with accurate enrollment numbers for these new virtual-only classrooms and hire teaching staff accordingly, HCPS is requiring families who choose a virtual option for their child to commit to a full semester by Monday, August 9, at 5 p.m.

Kindergarten - 8th Grade: The district’s Engage Remote Learning Option (RLO) will be provided again this year for students in kindergarten through 8th grade, with important changes made to the online learning experience to enhance the engagement and classroom productivity of virtual learners. This year, fully remote learners will be members of a unique cohort, taught by HCPS teachers hired specifically to teach in the virtual classroom only. Families of K-8 students should register for Engage RLO through the HCPS Enrollment Portal at by Monday, August 9, at 5 p.m.

9th-12th Grade: Students in grades 9-12 who have previously demonstrated success in fully remote learning may access online courses through the online platforms currently offered to high schoolers in the district: N.C. Virtual Public School, Edmentum, and the Henderson County Virtual Public School (HCVPS). Students interested in a fully virtual learning option should register for virtual learning through the HCPS Enrollment Portal at by Monday, August 9, at 5 .pm. Students will then be contacted by their school counselor to discuss their options for the 2021-2022 school year based on their credit needs.

Flex and Early College Calendars: Since Bruce Drysdale Elementary and Hendersonville Elementary students are already in school on the Flex Calendar, and Early College students begin the school year on August 16, district administrators are prioritizing efforts to staff teachers for the virtual classrooms to serve these families who would now prefer the virtual-only options. During its August 9 board meeting, district staff will update the school board on Engage RLO enrollment numbers for Flex Calendar students, and Early College students’ interest in virtual learning to determine if an earlier virtual learning start date is feasible for these student groups.

Health & Safety Reporting Protocols

COVID-19 District Dashboard: Beginning Tuesday, Aug. 3, HCPS will resume updating the COVID-19 District Dashboard with school-affected cases reported during the 2021-2022 school year. The Dashboard reflecting this new stage of in-person learning will report cumulative positive cases since July 8, 2021, when the new school year began for year-round schools.

Family Notifications: HCPS and public health officials are currently operating under the same notification protocols used during the 2020-2021 school year. The Henderson County Department of Public Health is responsible for contact tracing and quarantine protocols in our community, and is the agency that will contact individuals considered to be close contacts to school-affected positive cases. And since Henderson County Public Schools remains committed to keeping its families informed, principals will contact all families of their individual schools when a positive test is confirmed by health officials in their school. Families can refer to our “What to Expect When There is a COVID-19 Case in a School” document at for additional details on notification procedures.

Instructional “Return to Learn” plans and school system operations will be evaluated and refined based on local health data as district administrators continuously monitor community health trends. As they were this afternoon, any additional changes will be communicated to HCPS families via SwiftK12 emails and phone calls.