School Year For All Students Will Begin Aug. 17th With Remote Learning
K-5 Students Will Return To Classrooms September 8th
SMITHFIELD – At the conclusion of a nearly six hour meeting Wednesday night, the Johnston County Public School Board voted unanimously to start the 2020-2021 school year with virtual online instruction for all students.
In a 7-to-0 vote, the board agreed that all K-12 students would start the new school term on August 17, 2020 with remote learning. The board said K-5 students would return to classrooms on September 8th under Plan B. The delay will give transportation services an opportunity to work out bus routes.
An exact date when students in grades 6-12 would return to campus was not finalized. When students return to classes, officials are considering dividing them into two groups. One group would attend classes on Mondays and Tuesdays. The second group would attend classes on Thursdays and Fridays. Wednesdays would be an instructional and planning day for teachers.
Superintendent Dr. Eric Bracy said, “We want our kids back in school as soon as we can get our kids safely in school.”
There are numerous logistical tasks that have to be worked out for virtual courses for high school students. Students from multiple schools may be enrolled in the same online course, but the course will be taught by the same teacher.
Administrators are also working out plans for a virtual open house for elementary-level students and trying to determine what a student’s day will look like online.
Board member Teresa Grant said she wanted to make sure there was consistency across every class and every school. Grant said there are multiple details that have to be worked out and addressed. She asked several questions including: can students check out books from the library when they return to campus, what if a student refuses to wear a mask, and if a student tests positive what will happen to the rest of the class?
The board also discussed safety concerns on school buses, food delivery options to classrooms instead of eating in the cafeteria, sanitizing buses and classrooms, frequent hand washing, maintaining social distancing, and how to maintain consistency and accountability. When in-person classes resume, parents will not be allowed inside school buildings under the current proposal.
Board member Ronald Johnson said remote learning would be difficult for working families and wanted to make sure there is flexibility built into the virtual school day.
JCPS officials announced Wednesday night that when in-person classes resume, all JCPS students will receive free breakfast for the remainder of the 2020-2021 school year.
Parents who have concerns about sending their students back to campus now, regardless of grade level, have the option to enroll their children in virtual online classes for the first semester. The school board will determine at a later date if the virtual classes will remain an option for the second semester.
The board of education will release more details about their reopening plan during their regularly scheduled board meeting on Tuesday, August 11th.