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Guilford County Schools launches task forces to help plan for 2020-2021 school year reopening

Guilford County Schools said each task force includes teachers, principals, classified personnel, parents and community members.

Guilford County Schools announced Tuesday it has launched two task forces to assist the district as to how to reopen schools in August amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

GCS said each task force includes teachers, principals, classified personnel, parents and community members.

“First, the district is teaming up with four other large, urban school districts in the state to share ideas and potential options for reopening schools in August,” Guilford County Schools said in a news release. 

The school district said in addition to GCS, members include Cumberland County Schools, Durham Public Schools, the Wake County Public School System and Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools.

“Each district appointed six members to the task force, which is led by Deena Hayes, chairperson of the Guilford County Board of Education and Keith Sutton, chairperson of the Wake County Board of Education,” GCS said. “Members include school board leadership, superintendents, principals, teacher and parent association representatives, and a member of each county’s state legislative delegation.”

GCS said the task force consists of more than 150 members county-wide who are developing recommendations and guidelines regarding health-screening protocols, social distancing in classrooms, schools, office buildings, school buses and more.

“The five districts collectively represent 24% of the state’s public-school students, 57% who are of color and 51% who live in poverty,” GCS said. “Task force member districts also serve more than 369,700 students and employ 47,700 staff members.”

The school district said recommendations and guidelines also include student and employee health and wellness, academics and remote learning, child nutrition, student support services, technology, facilities, school safety, communications and community relations.

GCS said each task force started meeting virtually in June and said both are developing recommendations for each of the three scenarios to be announced on June 11 by Gov. Roy Cooper, in the state’s guidance for public school re-openings: Lighting Our Way Forward.

The school district said GCS and other North Carolina public school districts also must follow the state’s public health guidance for schools: NC COVID-19.

Under the state recommendations and requirements, one of three reopening plans will be put in place:

  • Plan A: Minimal Social Distancing
  • Plan B: Moderate Social Distancing
  • Plan C: Remote Learning Only

Gov. Roy Cooper is expected to announce this week which plan the state will follow when schools start back on Aug. 17, as mandated by a new state law adopted by the North Carolina General Assembly before they adjourned for the summer last week.

GCS said local school districts may follow a more restrictive plan than what the state recommends but cannot use a less restrictive one.

“With confirmed cases of COVID-19 and hospitalizations continuing to rise across North Carolina and in Guilford County, GCS is focusing most of its attention on the state’s ‘Plan B’, which includes moderate social distancing and a mix of in-person and remote learning,” GCS said.

The school system said if public health guidelines require moderate social distancing guidelines, GCS will be unable to transport or serve all children at the same time or in the same way via in-person, in-classroom instruction.

“Our goal is to serve as many students as possible for the greatest amount of time possible while also keeping students, faculty, staff, parents and our community healthy and safe,” Guilford County Schools Superintendent Sharon L. Contreras said.

GCS said district officials will discuss the prior task force recommendations at a special work session next week.

The work session begins at 6 p.m. July 9 and will be held virtually.

GCS said parents can view the work session on GCSTV or on the district’s YouTube channel.


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