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Guilford County School Board weighing calendar changes for 2020-21 school year

The school board wants parents to weigh in on changes for the next school year before it makes a decision.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — An earlier start and some distance learning days are ahead for all North Carolina public schools students but Guilford County Schools is still deciding how that will work on it's calendar.

The school board voted 8-1 at its Thursday meeting to approve the 2020-2021 academic calendar for public comment before voting at the next meeting.

The proposed calendar starts August 17, 2020, and ends June 3, 2021. It also decreases the number of teacher workdays and adds six distance learning days.

The proposal comes after Governor Cooper signed two coronavirus relief bills earlier this month. A Senate bill dictates schools statewide must begin in-person classes on August 17 and include five distance learning days in the calendar.

Parents like Elizabeth Kota said they don't have any problems with the proposed calendar.

"My kids are actually ready to get back to school so starting a little bit earlier is definitely ok with me and then I like the fact that they incorporated the distance learning days so that they're not having to make them up at the end of the school year," said Kota.

Kota said she is more concerned about what going back to schools will look like in the classroom. Some school board members worry the proposed calendar doesn't address those questions.

School Board District 4 Vice Chair Linda Welborn argued the state's mandate that all students return to the classroom in August goes against CDC guidance, which requires social distancing.

"This is not a realistic situation for August unless there's some drastic changes coming forth between the CDC and the state and the CDC and the state need to start talking," said Welborn.

Another part of that discussion was Guilford County Schools re-entry plan. A task force within the district will begin meetings in June to talk about issues like social distancing.

Superintendent Sharon Contreras said it will likely require blended learning.

"The need to maintain social distancing in our classrooms, hallways and school buses will be some kind of hybrid," said Contreras.

The school board is asking parents for feedback on the proposed school calendar until its June 9 meeting.

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