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The next step for Hanes and Lowrance middle school students

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- With a decision made about the remainder of the school year for Hanes and Lowrance middle school students, parents are shifting their focus back from health concerns to education.

"They're going to spend most of their times with moving desks and teachers getting situated. I don't think the rest of the year will be very productive at all," said Ernest Marlette, who has twin eighth graders at Hanes.

The plan is for Hanes sixth graders to go to Smith Farm Elementary. Hanes seventh and eighth graders will be moved to former Hill Middle School. Lowrance students will be finishing the school year at Atkins High School.

This move will be made on March 2.

"Our goal right now is to focus solely on; how can we make this transition for students as smooth as possible? We want to make it the least disruptive experience that we can for students," said Theo Helm, chief of staff for Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools.

Helm says the transition is already underway. They have begun renovations at Hill Middle School and are in the process of hiring a moving company to move equipment in an effort to ready the future learning spaces.

"The location may be different, but there are so many things about it that will be the same," Helm said. "They're going to have the same teachers, they're going to have the same classes and they’re going to have the same people in those classes."

"What are they going to do for next year? What is the plan," asked Misty Austin, who has a daughter in the seventh grade at Hanes.

"We want to, in the next year, get Hanes all on one campus together," Helm said.

One option would be to move all of the Hanes grades to Hill Middle School next year; with added learning spaces.

"One option could be, you add a pod there, add mobile classrooms there, which a lot of our schools have," Helm said.

"I think that would be feasible, because all the grades need to be together," said Austin.

They are also continuing the plan for a new school for Lowrance, which was the topic that brought the contaminated grounds to the forefront in the first place.

In the meantime, they are continuing the testing which was ordered prior to this decision being made. Those results will play a large factor in determining the next step.

The students will remain at the current schools through the last week of February. The major move to the other schools will be made that weekend.

As of now, Helm said the estimated cost of the move is somewhere between $2 and $3 million.