Guilford County Schools superintendent says ‘absolutely not’ in favor of returning to in-person learning on August 17

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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.

Feb. 26

School districts, health agencies taking steps to prepare against coronavirus in the Triad

March 3

First case of coronavirus identified in NC

March 4

School systems, public transit in the Triad keeping a close eye on coronavirus

March 10

Guilford County Schools asks children who have visited high-risk coronavirus areas to stay home for 2 weeks

March 11

Guilford County Schools prepares plans for possibility of coronavirus outbreak

Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools cancels field trips amid coronavirus concerns

All UNC System schools to transition from in-person instruction to a ‘system of alternative course delivery’ amid coronavirus concerns

March 12

Guilford County Schools cancels out-of-state trips after coronavirus declared a ‘pandemic’

Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools to limit school visitors after 2 coronavirus cases confirmed in Forsyth County

March 13

Guilford County Schools weighs closing, keeping 25% of kids in school

Surry County Schools extends spring break amid coronavirus outbreak

March 14

LIST: States that have closed all schools through the end of the school year due to coronavirus

All NC K-12 public schools closed for at least 2 weeks starting March 16, Governor Roy Cooper says

Rockingham County Schools closed through Friday, April 10

Forsyth County Schools says cafeteria sites will be open for lunch, breakfast, meals will be delivered along bus routes during 2 week school closure

Guilford County Schools officials plan to deliver free, reduced-price lunches during 2-week closure for students who qualify; plans for online learning in the works

March 15

Piedmont parents and students react to extended school closures

WS/FCS provide more details for two week public school closure

March 16

Guilford County Schools buses delivering meals to homeless, most vulnerable students

Trump administration recommends schooling from home; no gatherings of more than 10 people; avoid bars, restaurants; says vaccine in clinical trials

March 20

Piedmont parents adjust to working from home, educating kids at same time

March 23

North Carolina schools grades K-12 closed for in-person instruction through May 15

April 6

Guilford County families find ways to de-stress as spring break begins

May 6

Forsyth County teacher delivers books to students to help them retain their reading skills

May 12

Winston-Salem/Forsyth County high schools to hold virtual graduation ceremonies, drive-by diploma pickup and picture sessions

May 15

Triad kids share what they miss most about their schools

May 19

Triad teachers take classes on virtual field trips during pandemic

May 23

Thomasville High School student tests positive for COVID-19 after going to graduation event

June 23

Local colleges prepare for students to return to campus

June 30

Guilford County Schools officials planning August reopening

Gov. Cooper will not make announcement on plans for schools reopening at Wednesday news conference

July 7

Guilford County Schools gets approval for 2 new virtual schools amid pandemic

Guilford County Schools offers virtual learning, some parents share relief

President Trump pushes state, local leaders to reopen schools in fall

July 13

Gov. Cooper to make announcement on K-12 public schools Tuesday

July 14

Gov. Cooper says K-12 public schools can open for both in-person and remote learning; state will stay in Phase 2 of reopening for 3 more weeks

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