GREENSBORO, N.C. — Guilford County School Superintendent Dr. Sharon Contreras made clear at a meeting Tuesday she was not in favor of returning to in-person learning at the start of the school year.
Contreras was asked about returning to the classroom and replied, “absolutely not.”
Classes will start on Aug. 17, but Contreras has recommended that the school system use remote learning for five weeks.
After five weeks, pending approval from the health department, students in kindergarten through eighth grade could resume in-person learning.
Contreras said ultimately, the decision on how to start the school year will go to the school board for a vote.
The school system released the following statement Tuesday night:
The Guilford County Board of Education is considering three scenarios to reopen schools under Plan B, which Governor Roy Cooper announced today would be used statewide at the start of the school year.
Plan B calls for moderate social distancing, 50 percent occupancy in school buildings, and a mix of in-person and remote learning. Moderate social distancing also means that fewer students can attend school in person at the same time.
In presenting the plan to the school board, Superintendent Sharon L. Contreras recommended that the first five weeks of school open as remote learning for all students, followed by Scenario A, which would allow students in grades K-8 to attend school five days a week.
As part of Scenario A, high school students would learn remotely five days a week. Students with disabilities or who are learning English, homeless or living in foster care would attend school full time, regardless of grade level.
In Scenario B, students to come to school two days a week and to learn from home for three days a week, in alternating groups. Scenario C would alternate weeks so that half of the student body would attend school one week, and the other half would attend the next week. Remote learning would take place on the alternate weeks. Click here to view more details about the scenarios.
The board will decide which of the three scenarios the district will use later this month. The district’s goal is to serve the largest number of students for the greatest amount of time while keeping students and staff as healthy and safe as possible. If the board chooses to start the school year with remote learning, it would review current health data for Guilford County and re-evaluate its plans before moving forward.
“We know there are no perfect answers and that each scenario has its advantages and disadvantages,” says Contreras. “We want to give students the best environment possible, whether that’s a blended model or one that provides different styles of instruction to students in different grade levels. Ultimately, we cannot compromise the health and safety of our students and staff.”
In all three scenarios under consideration, eligible students in grades 11 and 12 would be encouraged to participate in Career and College Promise, which allows students to take college classes free of charge through Guilford Technical Community College (GTCC) while in high school.
Students may also apply to one of the district’s two new virtual schools, which were recently approved by the state. Guilford eLearning Virtual Academy will serve students in grades K-5. Guilford eLearning University Prep will serve students in grades 6-8. High school students will be able to enroll in the University Prep program but remain students at their current high schools. Applications are now open; click here to apply.
The board will adopt a plan at the July 28 meeting.
Gov. Roy Cooper on Tuesday gave an update concerning the next steps for K-12 public schools.
Cooper said schools will open for both in-person and remote learning, with key safety precautions to protect the health of our students, teachers, staff and families.
“This is the plan B that we asked schools to prepare,” Cooper said Tuesday.
Face coverings will be required for every teacher, staff and student from kindergarten through high school. The state will be providing at least five reusable face coverings for every student, teacher and staff member.
Symptom screenings, including temperature checks, will take place daily before children enter the school buildings.
Schools must create a way to isolate students who have symptoms and ensure they can get home safely, Cooper said. Schedules must allow time for frequent hand washing and schools will regularly clean classrooms, bathrooms, buses and equipment.
Districts can choose plan C – which requires all remote learning – if they determine that is best for those children, parents and teachers in that area.
“We know there will always be some risk with in-person learning and we are doing a lot to reduce that risk. But as pediatricians and other health experts tell us, there is much risk in not going back to in-person school,” Cooper said.
Here is a timeline of selected FOX8 headlines tracking the history of coronavirus and North Carolina schools. This does not include all coronavirus coverage or all North Carolina schools coverage.