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WS/FCS continues remote learning in 2020-2021 school year, with chance of entering restrictive plan at end of nine weeks

WS/FCS will remain closed face-to-face with no students or employees allowed in school buildings.

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools have decided to continue remote learning amid the coronavirus pandemic with the possibility of later entering the more restrictive Plan B.

The school system voted on the decision Friday afternoon in a virtual meeting to operate under the remote learning plan (Plan C).

Superintendent Dr. Angela P. Hairston requested the board approve the remote learning plan for the first nine weeks of the 2020-2021 school year and recommends implementing Plan B at end of the first quarter.

Under Plan C, schools will remain closed. No students or employees will be in school buildings.

The plan means students will continue with remote learning. Remote learning will be based on the Remote Instruction Plans that were already submitted.

“School is an essential part of the health and wellness of children,” Hairston said. “Our number one priority is to provide a safe and sound environment for all students.”

Hairston said the school system will be working over the next four weeks to bring school in “a different way”.

Parents are voicing concerns about the idea of online learning.

"I’m not a teacher my wife’s not a teacher and now suddenly we have kids who are trying to learn three separate subjects at the same time," Dan Green said. 

Green has three children in elementary school. 

"The middle child, she is just learning how to read. I mean that requires quite a bit of attention for my wife with some independent time for each kid," said Green.

High school rising senior Reed Ballus values that in-person learning.

"There's so many things that you can't do on your own. What online learning essentially is doing is making you teach yourself," he said.

The school district said online learning will be different this year, with more video conference opportunities so students can get the help they need. 

“I see hard scientific data that says we are not through with the worse part of this for our students,” Hairston said.

Winston-Salem Forsyth County Schools Teacher Miguel Friday said he's hopeful the 9-week term for online learning will give the trends a chance to decline. 

"Since we are still in the rise of COVID-19 I am thinking that online would be better at first to allow us to assess where we are in the next nine weeks and based on what the governor would say in the next nine weeks," Friday said. 

The second-year teacher has some experience with virtual learning but is still worried about the challenges some students could face.

"We are in this together and we’re going to overcome this. We are capable of achieving greatness as a team if we work together," Friday said. 

The school district discussed a timeline as to how students and staff would return, if applicable, virtual learning options for high school students, what an at-home schedule would look like for high school students, addressing mental health through social-emotional and wellness needs for students and staff amid the pandemic and more.

The district also spoke about athletics, before and after school programs, school safety measures, food services, transportation, employee feedback, and how the school system would handle a suspected, presumed or positive case of COVID-19.

If decided after the first nine weeks, Plan B allows schools to reopen with social distancing required.

Under the plan, schools are limited to no more than 50% of maximum capacity and are open under a more restrictive plan with enhanced health protocols.

Key Points You Should Know About Plan B

  • More restrictive plan
  • School facilities are open but social distancing is required
  • Limit density of people in school facilities to no more than 50% maximum occupancy 
  • Enhanced health protocols
  • Blended Learning for all

Plan B Key Safety Measures

  • Require face coverings for all teachers and students K-12
  • Limit the total number of students, staff and visitors within a school building to the extent necessary to ensure 6 feet distance can be maintained when students/staff will be stationary
  • Conduct symptom screening, including temperature checks
  • Establish a process and dedicated space for people who are ill to isolate and have transportation plans for ill students
  • Keep students and teachers in small groups that stay together as much as possible
  • Have meals delivered to the classroom or have students bring food back to the classroom if social distancing is not possible in the cafeteria
  • Discontinue activities that bring together large groups
  • Place physical barriers such as plexiglass at reception desks and similar areas

Plan B Scheduling Options

There are multiple scheduling options under Plan B for school districts to decide. This information was previously provided by the state.

Option A: This plan scheduling options are by grade span and grade level. Some students are on campus and others will take classes at home. Elementary and middle school students would use elementary, middle and high schools. High School students take all courses through remote learning. High Schools conduct on-campus labs for additional support. Some grade levels attend on-site, others remote.

Option B: This plan uses alternating days when students go to school by one day and by multiple days. It could be for a long duration or shorter time period to ease reopening and implement beginning of processes and procedures effectively. At all grade spans, students could be divided into different cohorts attending alternating days on-site and off-site.

Option C: This plan includes alternating weeks for when students go to school by one week or by two or more weeks. At all grade spans, students could be divided into different cohorts attending different weeks on-site and off-site.

Option D: This plan includes half-day rotation. Students would spend half the day on campus and half the day learning at home. At all levels, students would be in two cohorts. Cohorts would be half-day instruction on-site and half-day off-site per day and then rotate per day.

Option E: This plan includes teachers at all levels conducting video streams all day for live remote learning. Schools would decide which students and staff are at home or on campus.

Option F: Combination of options from above based on all local needs. Certain courses and content would be done off-site while others would be done on-site.

Plan B NCDHHS Requirements

  • Provide social distancing floor/seating markings in waiting and reception areas.
  • Mark 6 feet of spacing to remind students and staff to always stay 6 feet apart in lines and at other times when they may congregate.
  • Provide marks on the floors of restrooms and locker rooms to indicate proper social distancing.
  • Limit nonessential visitors and activities involving external groups or organizations.
  • Have staff monitor arrival and dismissal to discourage congregating and ensure students go straight from the vehicle to their classrooms and vice-versa.
  • Discontinue the use of any self-service food or beverage distribution in the cafeteria (e.g., food should be individually wrapped or served/handed directly to students) or at an event outside the typical school day. As always, ensure the safety of children with food allergies.
  • Ensure sufficient social distancing with at least 6 feet between people at all times in school facilities and on school transportation vehicles.
  • Limit density of people in school facilities and transportation vehicles to no greater than 50% maximum occupancy to ensure social distancing of at least 6 feet apart between people.

Plan C 
This means school facilities will remain closed if they pick this option. No students or employees will be in school buildings. It also means students will continue with remote learning. Remote learning will be based on the Remote Instruction Plans that were already submitted.

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