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Guilford County Schools parents and teachers preparing for remote learning start to school year

The district announced the first nine weeks of school will be taught through remote learning but what happens after is unclear and there's a lot of questions.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Students, parents, educators and even taxpayers all have questions as Guilford County Schools make difficult decisions about the upcoming school year.

GCS will do remote learning for the first nine weeks of the 2020-2021 school year.

Whether they agree with the move or not, many parents still have a lot of questions about what that will mean.

"It's tough to balance the demands that are put on a school for instruction versus what can be asked of your employer," Deborah Napper said. 

Napper is the mom of a Preschooler and a fourth-grader. She is using virtual school options for her kids and is able to split time at home with her husband. She knows other parents don't have that luxury.

Guilford County Schools included a possible look at what a remote learning day will look like during its presentation of the remote learning plan Tuesday. 

The proposal showed scheduled instruction times, exercise intervals and lunchtime but the plan didn't answer big questions--like who will supervise students if parents can't?

"For many, it's gonna be a hard task to be able to figure out how to work their work schedule around what they've got to be there to help their kids," Brian Owen said.

Owen works from home but his wife will soon be heading back to the office. He's hopeful that his 11th grader will be able to help his sixth-grader when needed.

GCS teachers know parents have concerns and want to help as much as they can.

"Going live at let's say 11 'o clock to teach, let's say a social studies class, isn't going to work for everybody. It's gonna require extreme flexibility on the part of the teachers, the parents, the support staff, everybody," Kiser Middle School teacher Michelle Jefferson said.

Jefferson said while remote teaching helps solve some COVID-19 problems, it creates a few challenges of its own.

"We'll have to work really really hard to form relationships with our students and get to know them so we know their learning styles," Jefferson said.

It will also mean a more expensive school supply list.

"We're gonna have to come up with the money for computers. Probably gonna have to come up with the money for another desk or two to put in our house," Freddie Lewis said.

Lewis and his wife Alex teach students with disabilities in the Exceptional Children program at Eastern Guilford High School.

Brian Owen worries that even small issues could become big problems during remote learning.

"This past week we had lightning hit the house and now we're out with no WiFi for a couple of weeks probably. What happens when that happens and now you've missed two days because of the wifi and now you've got to review and regroup," Owen said.

Many teachers agree that remote learning is not ideal but say going back to school isn't safe yet. Some parents worry their children won't return to the classroom at all.

"What's gonna happen if we open too soon is that definitely we're gonna have to shut back down. Then we're gonna have to plan for remote learning on the fly again like in the spring," Freddie Lewis said.

Guilford County Schools are considering four scenarios for returning to the classroom in October. The school board will consider several health factors before choosing one.

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