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'It is a lot of pressure' | Guilford County Board of Education members weigh in as vote on back-to-school plan expected Tuesday

The Guilford County Board of Education will meet Tuesday afternoon to discuss and vote on a reentry plan for the upcoming school year.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — The Guilford County Board of Education will meet Tuesday at 3 p.m. to talk about and vote on its reentry plan.

A number of scenarios have been brought to the table, which includes in-person classes, virtual learning and a mix of both. 

Not all board members agree with some of the suggestions made. 

Vice-chair of the board of education, Linda Welborn, said she's concerned about the scenario that brings children K-8th grade back to school, and high school students to learn virtually.

"I do have a problem with the high schoolers not having any face-to-face time so I’ve been working submitting other options other suggestions," said Welborn, "I’m hoping that Guilford County will come up with a different model that may suit their needs as well as the high school needs."

A discussion at a previous board meeting also brought up the idea of potentially including 9th grade in that in-person scenario, but only if the schools had enough room. 

Board member Khem Irby has a rising junior herself and understands the concern for high school students. 

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"I understand there’s a great outcry for our high school students. The plan initially that high school students would not have the opportunity to be in school, that’s personal for me as well I have a rising junior," she said.

Irby said she talked with her son about his thoughts on the possibilities for back-to-school.

"My son has already expressed early on if this is distance learning then this cannot continue for me," Irby said. 

Board member Byron Gladden said he's aware of other board members' concerns regarding the various scenarios. 

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"I don't think anyone’s wrong about that. I feel that there are points to support those arguments but we have to agree," said Gladden, "We have to have a majority on what to do and if we can’t agree then we need to continue virtually until we get to a majority decision."

One of the recommendations to the board of education suggests virtual learning for everyone for the first five weeks of school. 

"I personally feel that we have not flattened the curve enough to entertain an option to bring children back into school. It is very clear in my opinion that we need to remain virtual online for instruction," said Gladden. 

Welborn said the district needs that five weeks to prepare. 

"I think we need more time I think if we do that we can reassess after the five weeks. We still have time to see what happens with the corona numbers and prepare, to be more prepared for children returning to school," said Welborn. 

Gladden said he's hoping more information will be presented to the board Tuesday afternoon, so he can feel comfortable making an informed decision on what happens next. Some of the challenges that come to his mind for virtual learning is access to a computer.

"Not every child in the school district has a laptop, not every child in the school district has internet access, so to go virtual means that, yes, children are going to suffer academically because they all don’t have equity," said Gladden. 

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