Proposal would bring back K-5 students full time; 6-12 on split schedule

Greensboro, N.C. The Guilford County Board of Education is considering the best and safest way to bring students back into the classroom. At its meeting today, board members heard a proposal from Superintendent Sharon L. Contreras that would allow pre-K2 students to attend school five days a week beginning on Oct. 20 and grades 3-5 beginning on Oct. 26.

Students in grades 6-8 would also return in October for two days of in-person instruction per week, and students in grades 9-12 would return for two days of in-person instruction per week beginning at the start of the second semester, on Jan. 20, 2021. Half of the 6-12 students would attend on Monday and Tuesday, and the other half would attend on Thursday and Friday. All 6-12 students would stay home for remote instruction on Wednesdays, allowing for deep cleaning of buildings. 

Specific groups of middle and high school students, such as students who are homeless, students in foster care, some students with disabilities, students in the first years of language acquisition and students with multiple risk factors will be allowed to return to classrooms on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, beginning on Oct. 20, also pending positive health metrics. 

“This plan allows us to serve our youngest and most vulnerable students to ensure a strong foundation and mitigate learning loss, while still providing our older students opportunity for some face-to-face instruction,” said Contreras. “The plan makes the best use of our staffing, our building capacity and our existing technology.”

Dr. Contreras also recommended a staggered start. If the plan is approved on Sept. 24 and if health trends allow, students in grades preK-2 and grade 6 would return on Oct. 20, and students in grades 3-5 and 7-8 would return on Oct. 26, giving schools and families time to adjust to new protocols and procedures. “This is a huge adjustment in how we have conducted schools for the last three centuries,” Contreras said. Some pre-K and kindergarten students would be allowed to return in early October on a voluntary basis.

Reopening schools would only happen if public health indicators show that it is safe to do so. Under the superintendent’s plan, developed under the guidance of the Guilford County Public Health Department, students would only return to the classroom if the percentage of positive cases in Guilford County remained under 5 percent for 14 consecutive days, and if the number of cases per capita in Guilford County stayed under 125 to 130 cases per day for 14 consecutive days. The board would also consider hospitalization and intensive care unit rates. These metrics, if approved by the board at its Sept. 24 meeting, would be based on public health data between Oct. 2 and Oct. 16. 

At its meeting on Sept. 24, the board will vote on the metrics it will use to reopen schools as well as the plan to return students to classrooms. For more information on reopening schools, visit www.gcsnc.com/reopening

About Guilford County Schools

Guilford County Schools, the third largest school district in North Carolina and the 47th largest of more than 14,000 in the United States, serves 73,000 PK-12 students at 127 schools. With approximately 10,000 employees, GCS works in partnership with parents, businesses, colleges and the community to deliver an education that connects student interests and skills with the careers and economy of our future here and around the world. We provide educational choices to meet individual student needs in a culturally diverse citizenship and new opportunities to help our students Soar to Greatness. For more information, visit the district’s website at www.gcsnc.com.

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