LIVE UPDATES: Guilford County Schools discussing how to start the school year



Guilford County Schools on Tuesday voted to start the semester remotely for the first 9 weeks.

A motion was introduced to start school remotely for the first five weeks. The motion failed by a vote of 6-3.

Guilford County Schools Superintendent Dr. Sharon Contreras has revised her recommendation, now saying she would like to see students learn remotely for the first nine weeks of schools before revisiting options for students returning to the classroom.

Contreras said the decision to add four weeks to her initial recommendation of five weeks of remote learning was in part due to public health trends not currently going in the direction she would like to see. She also said it would allow the district time to get more technology into classrooms and help with scheduling logistics.

Contreras said the HEROES Act could provide billions for education so there could be improvements in staffing.

Pending a review of health data, under that recommendation students would return to the classroom on Oct. 20.

During the nine weeks of remote learning, the students’ teachers at their assigned schools would teach them remotely.

In the state of North Carolina, 41 school districts have chosen to start the year with remote learning. Only two districts have chosen to start the school year with in-person learning.

Contreras read a social distancing sample based on an average school setting. The capacity would be 17 students in one classroom. Only 820 of 1,067 students could attend the school in person. They would need 15 more classrooms and find another building for the classrooms to provide seats for the 247 other students. 

Less than 10 elementary schools in the district do not have enough space to follow social distancing guidelines under Scenario A. They would work with nearby schools to make accommodations.

Addressing how many technology devices the district has, Chief Academic Officer Dr. Whitney Oakley said the device-to-student ratio was 1-to-1 when the devices were ordered in 2016 but there was no replenishment plan.

Regarding Wi-Fi hotspots for buses in neighborhoods, Contreras said working through Education Alliance, the district got $100,000 for buses and have outfitted 125 buses with Wi-Fi to date.

Board member Dianne Bellamy-Small asked if some employees, such as bus drivers, would be furloughed. Chief Financial Officer Angie Henry said HR will be reaching out to a number of staff members to discuss their options after a decision on the start of school is reached.

After-school will not be operated during remote learning.

A vote on the plan for the start of school is expected to come later tonight. Check back for updates.

Prior story

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Guilford County Schools leaders on Tuesday will decide whether or not students will return to classrooms.

Guilford County Schools Superintendent Dr. Sharon Contreras has made it clear that she is 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 recommends 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.

Earlier this month, the school system laid out three possible scenarios for the start of school.

In Scenario A, K-8 students would attend school five days a week while 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 would come to school two days a week and learn from home for three days a week, in alternating groups. One group would attend classes in person on Monday and Tuesday, while the other group would attend classes in person on Thursday and Friday. Wednesday would be a remote learning day for all students.

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.

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