back to school


Dear Patron of RSD,

Russellville Public Schools remain committed to providing a high-quality education for all students. Health, safety and security will always be our greatest priority for our students. However, as we approach the new school year, in a time no one could have imagined, we know that all students, staff, and families will have many questions and concerns for what the new school year will look like. While we do not have all of the answers, our hope is that this document will provide some answers to your questions. We will continue to update this document as new information arrives.

The information in this document has been created from the latest information and feedback from the Governor’s Office, Arkansas Department of Health, Division for Elementary and Secondary Education, educational leaders, health care professionals, and various other patrons.

The information within this document is subject to change. However, it is our desire to continue to receive feedback from our community of teachers, parents, students, and community members as we move closer to the start of school on August 24th.

Our kids need our teachers. Our teachers need to connect with our students. Teachers are a vital part of the growth of our students for their academic and social/emotional development. Sadly,

our concern is that we will see a rise in childhood abuse and trauma during this pandemic. We need our students in school to be able to support them in all the ways they need us.

The Journal of American Medical Association reports that children younger than 10 years account for only 1% of COVID-19 cases. While that may be comforting to some it does not reduce our commitment to protecting your child and our teachers. Furthermore, the social/emotional impact on students from this pandemic could be more damaging than the virus itself. Therefore, we need to remain vigilant and united to do the best we can to start school on August 24th.

My best to everyone in our RSD family!

Our mission is to educate, equip, and empower every student every day.

-Dr. Gotcher



As of July 20, 2020

What is the first day of school for students?

  • School will begin on Monday, August 24, 2020, as proclaimed by AR Governor on July 9, 2020. This date will not change unless guidance from the Arkansas Department of Health or the Governor’s Office advises districts to do so.

Who will be required to wear face coverings?

  • Effective July 20, 2020, the Governor’s executive order mandates wearing face-coverings in all public places where social distancing is not possible. Therefore, students 4th grade and above will wear a face covering when social distancing is not possible. We recommend that students 3rd grade and below wear face coverings.

  • RSD will continue to follow the latest guidance from the Governor’s Office, Arkansas Department of Health (ADH), and the Division for Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE). We encourage every student to purchase or make a face-covering they are comfortable wearing. The district will provide one washable, reusable, face-covering per student who may need one. Face coverings will follow current dress code expectations.

  • The district will enforce the wearing of face coverings for students who are required to do so unless exempt by a health or medical reason.

Will bus transportation be provided for our students?

  • Yes, we are planning to run our normal bus routes at the normally scheduled times. However, all students will be required to wear face coverings on school buses per the Governor’s order regarding transportation.

  • In order to reduce the number of student passengers on our buses, we are asking families to consider taking their children to school, if at all possible.

What will the school day look like for our students?

  • Our goal is to have as normal a school day as possible for our students. We will make adjustments depending on what we are being advised to do by our state experts. The district has a contingency plan that may be implemented based upon current guidance or recommendations.

What safety measures will be implemented in regard to cleaning and sanitizing our schools and classrooms?

  • We will sanitize classrooms, buildings, and playground equipment before, during, and after school hours.

  • Support services personnel will thoroughly clean all areas of our school.

  • See Building Procedures in item 6 of this document for more details.

How will our classrooms be sanitized throughout the school day?

  • Staff will be expected to assist in sanitizing their own work areas, prior to transitioning to another area. Students may assist, where appropriate. (see building procedures document)

  • Each classroom, office, and larger areas will have a spray bottle of disinfectant, gloves and hand sanitizer.

School buses?

  • Each bus will have a spray bottle of disinfectant and/or disposable disinfecting wipes, gloves and hand sanitizer.

  • Sanitizing will occur after each route is completed and students are no longer on the bus.

Will my elementary student have recess?

  • Yes, but we may limit the number of students who go outside for recess. This may require us to have multiple recess schedules or kids will play in small groups or stations in our elementary schools.

Will physical or social distancing guidelines be observed?

  • Yes, as much as possible in a public school setting. We realize that there are many situations where this is not practical or best for student learning. We will do what we can to arrange classrooms differently in order to observe physical distancing, when possible.

  • Currently, the guidance is to keep students 6 feet apart in a classroom setting. However, there are physical limitations with some of our classrooms where this would not be possible.

What will happen if a teacher, staff member, or student tests positive for COVID-19?

  • If anyone should test positive, we will follow the latest guidance and protocols from the ADH. Our District Point of Contact is Mrs. Annie Schanink, Nurse Coordinator. She and her team will work closely with the Department of Health on how to proceed. Her contact number is: 479-968-1306.

Will teachers, students and staff be monitored daily?

  • Teachers, students and staff will be monitored. Any persons that are not regularly at school will be screened by our screening tool (substitutes, school personnel from other campuses, student professional services, etc.)

  • Parents will be asked to screen their child daily before going to school. Parents should check their child for the following:

    • Fever

    • Cough

    • Shortness of breath

    • Loss of smell or taste

  • Further details will be provided as we approach the start of school.

What happens if students are running a fever?

  • Our updated procedures are that if any adult or student is running fever must go home and be fever free for 48 hours without medication before they can return. However, we will follow ADH guidelines as recommended related to COVID-19.

Will I be able to eat lunch with my student? or bring lunch from a restaurant?

  • Until further notice, parents/guardians will not be allowed to eat lunch with their student. The delivery of restaurant food will not be allowed.

Visitation Policy?

  • RSD will suspend the parent visitation policy 6.5.1.R until further notice.

Test Exemption practice?

  • Suspended for the 2020-21 school year. All students will participate in semester tests or culminating projects focused on demonstration of essential learning.

What will extracurricular activities look like in the fall (i.e. sports, band, choir, theatre, etc.)?

  • Our current plans are to have all extracurricular activities begin as scheduled. But, official guidelines have yet to be determined by the Arkansas Activities Association and DESE.

Where will my student eat lunch if physical distancing is to be followed?

  • Lunch plans may look differently at each building. Building principals are exploring how they might schedule a limited number of students in the cafeteria while other students may eat in their classroom or another appropriate location.

  • We will continue to have this discussion-based upon new information from our state experts.

  • Breakfast and lunch will be in the classroom at the pre-school campuses.

  • Breakfast in the classroom will be expected on the elementary campuses.

  • Grab and go breakfast and lunch will be available for some campuses.

If my student chooses Option B for their Blended Learning at home and they qualify for free or reduced lunch, will they be provided a meal?

  • Lunch will be provided for pickup on a weekly basis at a central location during specific hours to be announced.



Facilities Cleaning Procedures for 2020-2021 School Year

In order to comply with the latest sanitation/cleaning requirements, the following procedures will be in place before the start of this school year. We will adjust as guidance and circumstances change.


  • The custodial staff will be responsible for sanitizing hard surfaces outside of the classroom. 

  • These are to include, but not limited to, bathrooms, water faucets, door handles, playground areas, and assisting in the cafeterias, if needed. 

  • The custodial staff will practice routine deep cleaning of the classrooms each night based on ADH recommendations and fog them on an M/W/F schedule.


  • Non-custodial staff (Teachers, Aides, etc.) will be responsible for cleaning the areas within the classroom.

  • Materials available in each classroom will be as follows:

    • 10 cloth towels

    • 1 spray bottle

    • Spray bottle with either of the following disinfectants (CDC approved) based on availability:

  • Virex (gloves recommended)

  • Pure Ion (Chlorine-based gloves are not required)

  • 1-32oz bottle of hand sanitizer

  • 28-quart black trash can to collect used towels

  • Disposable gloves will be provided based on cleaning disinfectant used



  • Desks and common areas will be wiped down by (non-custodial) staff at the required times throughout the day, using towels and spray bottles provided.

  • Hand sanitizer and disinfectant bottles will be refilled by the custodial department as needed.

  • Used towels will be placed within the provided trash can, and will be collected with the normal trash in the evening. 

  • Towels will be washed and restocked nightly by the custodial department.

  • Virex can be sprayed on and left to dry but wiping is recommended, or Pure Ion disinfectant can be applied and does not require wiping.


  • The use of traditional push-bar/button water fountains will be eliminated.

  • We have installed bottle fillers in every building to allow students to fill/refill their water bottles.

  • Students will bring their water bottles from home.


  • Playground equipment will be cleaned throughout the day using the Virex disinfectant.

  • Playground equipment will be disinfected after the school day is over and ready for use the following day. 

school bus



Updated 8-10-20 

Transportation Re-Entry Procedures Plan adheres directly to the Arkansas Department of Health Guidelines: 

1. All drivers and aides will wear a face covering. 

2. All students will wear a face covering. 

3. Face covering will be available for those without. 

4. Staff will be provided with an additional face shield if desired. 

5. Hand sanitizer will be available at the service entrance to each bus. 

6. Students will be coached to “distance” at bus stops, but the district will not police this. 

7. Upon re-entry to the bus yard, a staff member will be waiting in front of the shop to disinfect each bus before it is parked. Drivers may exit the bus while this process is taking place and then park the bus when it is completed. (am/pm) 

8. Mechanics will travel to buildings after the morning routes to disinfect busses that park at those buildings during the day. 

9. We have 2 buses that park at home in the evenings. These staff members will use spray disinfectant each evening to sanitize the bus. 

10. Parents will “screen” their children before sending them on the bus. 

11. Staff will “self-screen” before reporting to work. 

12. Any confirmed cases of Covid-19 and/or probable close contact will be reported to Annie Schanink (RSD Contact). 

13. Staff should avoid congregating in the break room. 

14. Masks will be required to enter the Bus Shop and Transportation Office. 

Per the State Department: “Due to a lack of additional buses and drivers, it is recommended that face coverings/masks (including cloth face coverings) be used rather than physical distancing on a school bus. It is not feasible to reduce the number of students to effectively meet social distancing requirements.


1. Be at the bus stop 5 minutes before the scheduled time. The bus does not have time to wait for you. While waiting for the bus, students must remain in a safe place away from traffic. Stay off the roadway or highway!! Stand back at least ten feet from the bus stop and wait until the door is opened before moving toward the bus. 

2. If your bus is late getting to your stop in the morning, wait until it arrives. If you are tardy at school, go to your principal’s office and report it. 

3. While loading or unloading, enter or leave the bus orderly and quickly. 

4. Do not bring visiting relatives, friends, or pets, to ride the bus. Occasional riders (riding home with a friend; going to grandparents) must have a note from the parent/guardian and signed by the principal in order to ride. 

5. After you have been assigned to a bus, do not change and ride another bus without first getting permission from the Director of Transportation. 

6. Do not bring large items on the bus or items that protrude into the aisle of the bus. Band instruments that can be carried on your lap are permissible. 

7. Any toys or other recreational items (footballs, basketballs, soccer balls, etc.) must be kept in a backpack or some other sort of bag or container on the bus and at the bus exchange. State law prohibits laser lights on the bus. 

8. Students are expected to conduct themselves in a manner that will not distract the attention of the driver or disturb other riders on the bus. No food and drinks are to be consumed on the bus. 

9. There is to be no profanity or vulgar language on the bus. When you talk, talk in a normal tone. 

10. There is to be no scuffling, hitting, or fighting on the bus or at bus stops. If someone is bothering you, report it to the driver. 

11. Students are to keep seated while the bus is in motion. Always wait until the bus comes to a stop before standing up to get off the bus. 

12. The bus driver has the authority to assign seats. 

13. Students are not to tamper with any of the safety devices such as door latches, fire extinguishers, etc. 

14. Students are not to put their hands, arms, heads, or any other part of their bodies out the window. 

15. Do not ask the driver to let you off the bus uptown, at the store, at the mailbox, or any other place other than your regular stop. He is not authorized to do this. Going to the mailbox before the bus leaves is against state law. 

16. If you must cross the road to get on the bus, wait until the bus has come to a complete stop and the driver has signaled for you to cross in front of the bus. If you must cross the road after leaving the bus in the afternoon, go to a point on the shoulder of the road approximately ten (10) feet in front of the bus. Cross the road only after the driver has signaled for you to do so. 

17. While riding the bus, students are under the supervision of the driver and must obey the driver at all times. 

18. Bullying will not be tolerated in any form on Russellville School District buses. Anyone participating in this type of activity may be suspended from riding all buses. 

19. Any activity that is a distraction to the driver will not be tolerated. Students may be suspended from bus riding privileges for distracting activities. The bus driver will report unacceptable behavior to the building principal on a discipline form as seen below. 


TO PARENTS: The vandalizing of school buses is a continuing problem. When bus seats and other vandalism repairs have to be made, it costs money. We need your help to stop this waste. A student who vandalizes a bus will be charged the cost of the repair and will be unable to ride the bus until full restitution is made. 

UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES should a parent or other non-school person, step onto a bus to confront a driver or a student. They should call the office of the Director of Transportation at 890-8561 to arrange a meeting if there is a problem with a student or driver on the bus. 



Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Plan 2020-2021

District Objective:

Each building will incorporate explicit SEL instruction within the classroom. Specific lessons will be created on a campus-by-campus basis (see examples on the chart below) in a way that minimizes the workload on individual teachers for planning while maximizing building level flexibility. A heavy emphasis will be placed on relationship building with students throughout the district.

The first three weeks across the district will focus on SEL. Regular academic instruction will continue; however, lessons will emphasize SEL skills. This is to both provide additional support during this stressful transition and to rebuild academic stamina of students while teaching tools for emotional regulation, problem-solving, and relationship building.

SEL Focus:

Lessons will be differentiated based on student age, campus needs, and focus areas. An emphasis is being placed on supporting school individuality while providing support using the Mental Health Liaison to guide each building to resources to meet their unique needs.

Supportive Resources:

Staff: Counselors, School Psychology Specialists, Mental Health Liaison, Curriculum Directors These individuals can provide support and guidance with the creation of SEL lessons, support with implementation, and coordination of services across grade levels.

Materials: CASEL, G.U.I.D.E. for Life, Zones of Regulation, Building developed lessons

Examples by building:






Create weekly lessons for Monday Advisory period to cover SEL

Teach Zones of Regulation Across Building; School Wide Book Study on SEL

PD with Mental Health Liaison to prep for lessons in August, Focus on G.U.I.D.E. for Life lessons, Dedicated time for instruction weekly,

Teams using G.U.I.D.E. for Life to embed lessons into the curriculum and for explicit weekly lessons in advisory


Lessons for year developed in June, 2020

Zones of Regulation began in 19/20. Additional planning in progress

In progress, 4 of 5 grade levels started lesson planning for SEL

In progress

Person Responsible

Teacher guided lessons (no prep needed)

Teachers, Counselor, School Psychology Specialist

Teachers, Counselor


Teacher Wellness Supports:

Building level PD has been planned to train teachers on SEL and provide teachers with plans/resources based on the building level plan. Building lessons are created as a team and shared across the building to minimize the toll of lesson planning for SEL.

Buildings are discussing ways to support teacher health and wellness. One building piloted teaching stress management strategies monthly as a part of the building PD.

Roll out mental health services for staff including details about the referral process and assurances of confidentiality for individuals seeking support.

Offer wellness trainings, stress management classes to teach specific techniques, and provide small-group support meetings, as needed. These supports will be provided by the Mental Health Liaison or Connections Behavioral Health, as appropriate.

Mental Health Support Request Form 

Key Terms

  • CASEL: Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning. The organization provides a resource for information on evidence-based programs and resources for the implementation of SEL in schools.

  • CASEL Wheel: Identified core competencies to address SEL in students. These include Self-Awareness, Self-Management, Responsible Decision Making, Relationship Skills, and Social Awareness.

  • G.U.I.D.E. for Life: Guide developed by the DESE using CASEL core competencies to focus on skills necessary for student success across school, work, home, and in the community. This includes target skill training for: Growth, Understanding, Interaction, Decisions, and Empathy.

  • Emotional Regulation: Skills that help individuals manage thoughts and feelings, and behaviors in a proactive, socially appropriate way.

  • Zones of Regulation: A teaching approach to identify and apply regulation skills to build self-regulation and emotional control.

  • PBIS: Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports. A framework to view data and practices to guide buildings in the creation of safe and supportive academic environments. PBIS is not a specific program, but rather, a way to evaluate needs and apply strategic interventions to address student SEL needs resulting in greater academic gains and improved student emotional regulation, engagement, and behavior.


Mental Health Support Request Form



*COVID-19 Updates from the Office of the Superintendent, Dr. Mark Gotcher will be posted weekly, on Friday.

RSD is committed to providing families, employees, and our community with timely and accurate information. There will continue to be regular district-wide updates through school messenger when needed. RSD’s district website and its social media accounts; Facebook and Twitter will stay up to date to deliver information in a timely manner. Follow us at

Important information and updates will be available on individual school websites and social media accounts as well. Building leaders may utilize School Messenger to deliver information to parents and staff as needed throughout the school year.

To receive information from RSD and your student’s school through text or voice message please give your preferred contact information to your student’s school during e-school registration at the beginning of the new school year.

Comments from patrons, parents, students, and staff will be monitored closely, and any statements perceived as disrespectful towards an individual(s,) aggressive or violent in nature, or unproductive to the conversation at hand will be removed from the discussion, indefinitely.

Local media outlets partnered with RSD:

River Valley Now

Cyclone Booth

River Valley Radio

The Courier

Contact Rachel Jones, District Communications Coordinator,, or at 479.968.1306 for assistance.









District Primary Point of Contact: Annie Schanink, Nurse Coordinator,

Sequoyah Elementary Phone: 479-968-1306

District Secondary Point of Contact: Vicky Mistler, School Nurse, 

Dwight Elementary Phone: 479.968.1306






Description: RSD enrolled students may attend on-site or off-site throughout the semester; however, at any time, a student may be required to stay at home due to RSD’s ongoing needs assessment of COVID-19. Learning continues through our learning management systems, with the assigned RSD teacher and support.

 Blended learning focuses on the essential learning at each grade level.

Printable Version (English) - Printable Version (Spanish) 

Learning Management Systems: 

See-Saw (K-1), Google Classroom (2-12), iLearn/Google Classroom (RHS) 

Parents: You will choose whether your children will start the year at school, or at home; new learning will occur at each location. 

  • There will be new learning for each grade level/course, whether at home or school. (not AMI) 

  • RSD will provide every K-1 student with an iPad, every 2nd-7th student with a Chromebook, and every 8th-12th grader with a laptop. 

  • Hot spots will be available for those who need internet access. 

  • Students will have to submit all work by the teacher’s deadlines in order to be counted “present” for attendance when learning from home. Students do not have to get online at the same time as in school, but they must meet all assignment submissions to be counted “present” for attendance. 

  • Students can work at their own pace through the lessons, as long as they meet assignment deadlines when working from home. 

  • If materials are needed for some elective courses (art, etc), arrangements will be made if possible when choosing to learn from home. 

  • Both of these options are available for all students, including those with special education. If your child requires additional accommodations or modifications, please reach out to the school or Brittany Turner at 890-5733 to schedule an IEP meeting so we can meet your needs. 

Anytime students are choosing to be at home to learn, they may still come to the school for certain extracurricular activities or as needed. If students are required to be at home for COVID19 reasons, they may not come up to the school. 

However, if neither of these options works for your family, we now have Option C available.

Option C: Virtual Learner with Cyclone Virtual Academy. This will be a 100% online curriculum using Lincoln Learning for K-8 students and Virtual Arkansas for 9-12. Your child will be assigned an RSD teacher to provide support and feedback for all their instructional needs for all k-8 students. Grades 9-12 will be assigned a teacher through Virtual Arkansas.

Please contact Bryan Swymn, RSD Digital Learning Supervisor, at for more information. 

For any further questions, you may contact your child’s building principal or our Directors of Teaching and Learning below:

Barbara McShane for Sequoyah Elementary at 479-968-2134 or

Krista Malin for London Elementary at 479-293-4241 or

Sheri Shirley for Oakland Heights Elementary at 479-968-2084 or

Laura Binz for Dwight Elementary at 479-968-3967 or

Tami Chandler for Center Valley Elementary at 479-968-4540 or

Shavon Jackson for Crawford Elementary at 479-968-4677 or

Cathy Koch for RIS at 479-968-2650 or

Sarah Monfee for RMS at 479-968-2557 or

Matt Kordsmeier for RJHS at 479-968-1599 or

Al Harpenau for RHS at 479-968-3151 or  

Karie Turney for K-4th curriculum at 479-968-5216 or

Judy Pennington for 5-12th curriculum at 479-967-6051 or

Bryan Swymn for Digital Learning Supervisor at 479-219-5355 or


 We are excited to have a great starting point for families to be able to fill out the majority of information needed for enrolling students in our district available from any internet-connected device. 

Guardians of NEW students can create an account and enroll their students using these links: (English) (Spanish)

Guardians of returning students will need a unique login to your student's snapcode to be able to verify and update existing information. Emails and/or letters with these codes will be sent out by all schools. Please contact your student's school office with any questions. Returning student data is available for review, and can be updated as needed.

Frequent Questions Asked?

  • Online enrollment is completely separate from your choice of blended learning options- A, B, or C.

  • This system doesn't cover other forms needed from families, such as ESL, GT, etc. Call your school for information.

  • Every building has staff ready to help you with questions.

For general help with the system, the providing software company PowerSchool can be contacted by email:, or phone: (866) 752-6850, Monday through Friday, 7-4 pm. 





The Superintendent of Russellville Schools, Dr. Mark Gotcher shares this information not to cause fear, but to be transparent in communication with our staff, parents, students, and community. 

RSD Administration encourages all of our families to be as careful as possible when at school and in public. 

Please continue to be diligent in wearing face coverings (when 6 feet of physical distancing cannot be achieved), frequent hand-washing, and social distancing, when possible. 

These important efforts will keep us safe and allow us to continue to have school as we all enjoy.














* Please note that this information will be as up to date as possible,

but for specific data, you are encouraged to call 

Central Office at 479.968.1306.