Guilford County School Board delays decision about restarting after school program

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GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. — During a virtual meeting Tuesday night, the Guilford County Board of Education voted to delay a decision about restarting the district’s ACES Program.

The program provides after school care for approximately 4,000 students in Guilford County, and employs more than 400 staff members.

After a long back and forth, board members voted to revisit discussions about the program’s future in the spring of 2021.

“We have to keep the main thing the main thing, which is opening up schools safely, looking at our teachers, getting them acclimated to teaching online, delivering good instruction, that has to be the priority right now,” said District 6 Representative Khem Irby on Wednesday.

During the board’s discussion, Superintendent Sharon Contreras pointed to issues surrounding the sanitation of facilities used during after school care.

“We do not have the means to avoid the cross-contamination of cohort groups and clean the building before ACES program,” she said.

Irby, who used to work in the program, said it’s invaluable to parents and students, but she isn’t sure yet how many will want to continue attending when in-person learning resumes.

She said low enrollment could drive up the cost.

“It was such a low-cost, manageable, fee-based program, you would not want to add a hardship at a time like now,” Irby said.

Irby also pointed to staff members who have taken other positions in the district and said that restructuring may be necessary.

“That’s a whole recruitment of new people into the ACES program. So that group leader that your child had last year, they’ve gone on, they’re not available,” she said. “I think it’s safe to say right now, we’re not trying to roll out an after school program.”

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