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Guilford County Schools talks upcoming school year as public returns to board meeting for first time in months

It was the first time in months the public was allowed to sit in on a GCS board meeting. The main talking points were the upcoming school year and the pandemic.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — For the first time since COVID-19 restrictions began, the Guilford County Schools Board of Education allowed the public into its meeting for the first time Tuesday.

It comes with the new school year weeks away. The main topic of discussion among board members was the new school year. 

Some Board of Education members were concerned about rushing to return to normal too soon.

"The virus is still here," T. Dianne Bellamy Small said.

Others said it's time to move on from the pandemic, with caution.

"It is far behind us. I don't think anyone is suggesting we're out of the woods," Pat Tillman said.

Those comments came while talking about the Emergency Powers given to Superintendent Dr. Sharon Contreras early in the pandemic. Those powers allow her to make decisions quickly about COVID-19 safety.

Board member Anita Sharpe questioned whether it was time to remove those powers but they remain in place for now.

Contreras said she has not used those powers yet, and took decisions to the board.

"Their role in policy, finances, every contract went forward but there could be a time when I would have to quickly make a decision," Contreras said.

Contreras said the Delta variant of the virus is a cause for concern as the new school year approaches. GCS said new data from the county Department of Public Health shows 26 percent of teenagers are vaccinated.

The CDC said last week vaccinated students and teachers do not need to wear masks but the district has made no decision on its policy.

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