As Guilford County Schools decides on reopening plan, lateral entry teachers prepare for possible increased workload


GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. — Each new COVID-19 case in North Carolina adds to the uncertain future for Guilford County Schools students.

Will they return to school at the end of the month? What will that look like? Is there going to be a delay?

As district leaders decide on the best plan forward, focus is being put on the stress being experienced by Guilford County lateral entry teachers

Lateral entry teachers are those educators who can teach with a certification while they pursue a professional teaching degree.

In Tuesday’s school board meeting, Superintendent Dr. Sharon Contreras outlined how 11 campuses have a large amount of lateral entry teachers, while 25 percent of the campuses have at least one-third of its teachers having less than three years experience or seeking a professional degree.

Contreras said despite how hard these teachers work, they may not have as strong of teaching skills to adapt to virtual learning as those teachers who have been teaching for several years.

“We expect these teachers to teach when the screen is black, and they’re just staring into the darkness, and to be able to do this well?” Dr. Contreras asked during Tuesday’s meeting.

Click here to see the full school board meeting. The statements made regarding lateral entry teachers begin at 1:28:00.

Lateral entry teachers, like Sierra Gilliam, of Western Guilford High School, must not only teach, but be students themselves.

“There is no perfect way to maneuver through lateral entry teacher virtually,” Gilliam said.

She said that teachers are having to teach online courses, while also taking online courses at universities.

Whereas lateral entry teachers would have to worry about teaching students in person and their own personal studies, they now have more on their plates.

For elementary teachers, she explained they will now have to worry about social distancing, making sure their children are remaining health-conscious for those students who choose to return to class. For those that don’t, she has to balance their needs to ensure an even ground of learning opportunities.

“They’re nervous about making sure their kids are safe,” she said.

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