WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools Board of Education members voted on Friday to start the fall semester with remote learning options.
Students will spend the first 9 weeks learning remotely.
The board members voted at 4:35 p.m. They say COVID-19 is still too much of a concern to return to the classroom.
District leaders say they have enough laptops and digital learning pads for students who need them.
During the first 9 weeks, the school board will assess whether they want to resume in-person learning.
WS/FCS wants to remind students and families who want an all-virtual learning environment, they still have the option of enrolling in the WS/FCS Virtual Academy, according to a WS/FCS news release.
The Academy will serve students in grades K-12 and enrollment is continuing throughout the summer. Students and families can learn more about the Virtual Academy by visiting the Virtual Academy page on the WS/FCS website, and attending a virtual information session.
Additionally, WS/FCS has established the Our Safe Return page on the WS/FCS website to provide information to the community about return to school plans.
“Our 2020-21 school year will look very different with a unique set of challenges for our students, families, teachers, and staff,” said Superintendent, Dr. Angela Hairston. “We are very grateful to our community for its support, engagement and encouragement as we now take the final steps in preparing for next year.”
School officials released a statement Friday on the decision, which is provided below:
“Today, the WS/FCS Board of Education approved its Plan C Remote Learning model for all students. Students in grades K-12 will start the new school year by learning virtually for the first nine weeks of school. The district has committed to re-evaluating the possibility of a return to in-person learning after the first nine weeks. The first day of school remains August 17, 2020.
WS/FCS Superintendent Dr. Angela Hairston said, “I did not recommend this plan lightly. I know this decision comes with frustration for parents who struggled with virtual learning in the spring, but we need more time for this virus to subside in order to return to school safely.”
Hairston continued by saying, “Going back to school for our communities and families is still of great concern to me. Our community has one of the highest infection rates in our state. I see hard, scientific data that shows we are not through the worst of this pandemic. Our health experts say the risk of infection is still very high. Add that to an employee survey that shows us nearly 20% of our teachers say they are either fearful of or need special accommodations in order to return to the classroom. We must have their full support and endorsement if we are to reopen our schools safely.”
Hairston went on to acknowledge that she knows this plan may not be easy for families as no plan is perfect. The delay allows time for the virus to subside, more time for our schools to prepare, and extra time for teachers to build rigorous online learning to kick off the year. As the first nine weeks come to an end, we will reassess where infection levels are within our community and consider a transition into a modified or hybrid plan of in-person and virtual learning much like the Plan B outlined today.
Over the next four weeks, the district will continue its work improving online learning. Instructional leaders say there will be big differences in the new version of online learning. Teachers will be teaching. The district will be taking attendance and giving grades. There will be more training for parents, students and staff, and multiple ways to learn, and time for one-on-one conversations with teachers. What is offered will not change. Art, music, physical education, languages, CTE, AP, IB, STEM classes, and virtual field trips will be a part of the remote learning plan. Our instructional team will work to make the content robust and rigorous.
Parents can expect more detailed information about Plan C to follow in the weeks ahead. We also encourage everyone to visit the Our Safe Return page on the WS/FCS website for information, FAQs and resources and a letter about this decision from Dr. Hairston.”