Wake County School System offers update on re-opening schools
Board Chair Keith Sutton and Superintendent Cathy Moore will address the re-opening of school buildings and opportunities for community input.
thank you all for joining us today. I'm Keith Sutton, chair of the right kind of Board of Education. Today we will go into more detail about our efforts to prepare for it sells for 2020 2021 school year. We also wish your updates on graduation ceremonies as well as address how we will continue to promote racial equity and justice in our schools and in our communities. I'll ask Superintendent Kathleen Moore to get us started. Cervical war. Thank you, Chair. Sudden, I want to spend the majority of my time today discussing are planning for the 2020 2021 school year. As I have said. Often, schools will likely need to operate much differently next year to the health guidance related to the Cove in 19 Pandemic. In addition, we expect that guidance will change over time. We've created a core team representing every key function of our district to oversee, coordinate and support planning to make the 2020 2021 school year run a safely and smoothly as circumstances will allow, every member of this team is working together to prepare us for any number of potential scenarios with the overarching goal of supporting effective teaching and learning while protecting the health and safety of students and staff. We also want to take steps to make sure that despite any changes, school will remain a comfortable and supportive place. As you might imagine, the scope of work is immense. These unprecedented circumstances air forcing us to rethink every aspect of the school day, including transportation, service, classroom instruction, child nutrition, extracurricular activities and much more. The State Board of Education and the Department of Health and Human Services have announced that they will give District's guidance next week, expected on Thursday, but we have not waited for that to start our planning on potential scenarios. Our school board received an update this week on several key areas that are likely to be affected, including class schedules, building operations and custodial services. That presentation is posted on our Wake County Schools YouTube channel as part of the June 2nd work session. If you would like to see it regardless of the final guidance from the state, there are several changes parents should expect. The first involves social distancing, a practice we have all become familiar with over the past 2.5 months. We don't yet exactly know how any given school will look, but we will be giving students and staff explicit instructions on how to avoid crowding, waiting in lines with appropriate spacing, perhaps limiting the number of students who can even change classes at one time and so forth. We can also anticipate a relentless focus on regularly washing hands and cleaning surfaces. Every staff member and student will need to know the expectations for keeping classrooms and other common area and surfaces clean and be reminded of those expectations regularly. And lastly, we're developing guidelines for face coverings. While we don't know what the final guidance will be from the state on face coverings, health guidance has been consistent on this topic. That means that we must create a culture where students and staff who may choose or need to wear face coverings are simply part of a normal day. For as long as it's deemed a recommendation or a requirement. There are only a small fraction of details. Were these air only a small fraction of the details that we're addressing for the coming year, and each issue comes with a long list of related sub details. But even with stringent safety measures in place at school and elsewhere, we also have to face the possibility of a resurgence of Cove in 19. In our community, we're planning for that eventuality as well, which includes making sure that we are ready to transition seamlessly to rigorous and effective remote learning. On short notice. As we plan in earnest, we will be seeking your feedback to guide the work we received over 32,000 parent responses to our recent survey about remote learning. More than half of our teachers also responded to a separate survey. I was encouraged to see that a majority of parents responded favorably to our initial efforts at remote learning for everybody. But I also recognize that there are many improvements that can be made to increase engagement. We will also send a new survey to all of our families and the next day or two that will allow them to tell us about their concerns and priorities. As we work towards reopening schools in August, we can't and won't do this without the input of our parents and teachers. My commitment to every parent, student and staff member is this our schools will be vibrant, and welcoming place is focused on the well being of our students and staff. On that last point, I want to touch on a topic that chair Sutton will address in more detail. The social emotional wellness of our students and staff is a key part of our plans to reopen schools. But in recent days, another play within our country has been highlighted. The scar judge of systemic racism, as we shared in um, apparent message earlier this week. Our core beliefs compel us to see, understand and interrupt racism in all its forms, and I will repeat some of those thoughts now. This is a message that all adults must take to heart every single one of us. There's a steak. It's sacred trust between Children and those who work in our schools. So when you take a moment to make this point clear to my school system, co workers and colleagues, I have no interest in returning to normal. When this pandemic ends. For too many students, normal means their potential is discounted, their culture is questioned and their actions were viewed with suspicion. This is not normal. It is abhorrent and we are all essential in the fight against racism. If we expect to improve the life of every child, there is no comfortable path forward. We must confront the ways in which race defines our nation, our communities and our schools. But if we wish to prepare every student for tomorrow, we have no choice. It is literally the work we do. I expect all of us will hold each other accountable because our students of color need and deserve to know that school is a place where they are valued, respected, understood and loved. With that, I will turn it back over to cheer something. Thank you so content more before returning to soup. Intent Moore's comments about equity and race, I want to make sure toe offer a heartfelt read. Congratulations for the graduating class of 2020 As of tomorrow nine. About 31 high schools will have hail school based graduation celebrations for graduates. Graduates from Wait Young Man's Leadership Academy Wait, Young Women's Leadership Academy. They're running Malone College and Career Academy Wake Stem Early College night. They are High Southeast. Robbie Magnet, huh? Northway College and Career Academy and Sanderson high on their way to bright futures. Wait for your high will hold its on sites that ceremony tomorrow. The rest of the school base of services will take place next week. Thus far, the school based celebrations have been inspiring and meaningful as students and families have celebrated with dignity and grace. I've been especially moved by the comments from students who have expressed sincere gratitude for their principals, teachers and staff members who have worked so hard to make these events. We're grateful to the dedicated staff members who have designed events that honor our seniors while strictly upholding safety guidelines, We know this is no easy feat. We also think the students and families who have diligently adhere to safety got safety guidelines. This is critical to the health and well being. About next week, we will be posting virtual celebrations for all hospitals. Our hospital staff members have put in long hours to create truly special videos that will include speeches from students, photos and names of graduating seniors, music, including the traditional pomp and circumstance, and a time to turn tassels and be pronounced graduates. I encourage all of our seniors and their families to tune into these well crafted and truly uplifting virtual celebrations. I think you will enjoy it. The celebrations will be available on YouTube. Please visit W C P ss dot net forts. Last graduation for a schedule and links to the brushwood means they will remain Post it for later viewing. Once again, congratulations to the class of 2020. From the bottom of my heart, I wish you all the best in your future endeavors. Please don't forget to check every cps s dot net or slash graduation for the time and date of your schools virtual graduation video. I want to close by speaking directly to our students and families about an uncomfortable but vital talking the topic of systemic racism and the fight for racial justice. As we shared in a message sent to all parents earlier this week, we remain dedicated to the core beliefs that as a district, we value a diverse school community that is inviting respectful, inclusive, flexible and supporters. I want to stress that as a nation once again struggles with the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow and the ongoing injustices faced by minorities, myself and my fellow school. But members are more committed to this belief than ever before. As superintendent, More mentioned, it is incumbent upon our staff to see, understand and interrupt racism in our schools. But I want to ask our parents and students today. Toe also take on that responsibility as well were in precarious times. As we try to make sense of the death or deaths of George Florida, I'm on our very and bring on the tailor. I want to emphasize that violence and destruction is not the answer. As an African American man with some level of experience in the struggle, I ask you to be thoughtful and to be safe together, we must find a way to constructive the address these issues of racism and bring about the change that is necessary. We must truly listen to one another, especially neighbors and co workers of color when they share their experiences of discrimination. Educate yourself about the history of race and balance in this country, a history that is too often ignored or explained away. And please talk to your Children about treating everyone with kindness, decency and respect at school and in the community. I believe this school district, all 20,000 staff members and everyone. About 162,000 students and their families can show others what it means to teach truth. Answer, baby King for what is possible, we would not take questions from the media. Please state your name at the media organization. You represent injury from the news observer. You, uh, empire more generally about the guidance on face coverings. Is that something that would be required to beware worn by students staff with that, something that would be if it's optional for them to wear them. I can start with that, Mr Sutton. Um, we don't have the guidance for schools yet. Um, so we're going toe wait to see what's released next week. We are aware of families that are both very comfortable and expecting to need to wear face coverings as well. A staff. We have other students and staff and families who prefer not to. We do not know what that guidance is yet, but we will be, you know, paying attentions that in order to communicate what our options or what it's gonna look like for W c. P ss, we have any additional questions. No one else was currently again. Since the protests have been number of school districts around the country that have ended their school resource officer programs. Is that something that the school district is considering doing? Viewing program? At this point, I'll start with that super Djinnit. More. Uh, that is not something that we have begun to consider at this point. Personally, I'm not sure if that's the the right avenue to take. I think we have a responsibility, a school system and educators to do just that on that is to educate. I think this is an opportunity that we could work with our partners in the past, our horsemen agencies to help them understand how the community is feeling, how young people are filling, help them to see uh, young people answer, perhaps review and take a look at policies such as use of force and other things on come to another standing on agreement and again helped educate on Not. I think it would be easy to just turn our backs, and I just continue any partnership. But I think it takes much more work much harder work to stay together for four is a path as partners to move forward in this work will continue to tech. I think Take a look at this as a board and staff on, figure out what's appropriate in those my personal feelings. But we'll be looking at those things down the road soup kitchen where you when I had it think to that I would just say that, um, the role of sa rose in our schools. It's something that we've been engaged in with regards to discussions and memorandums of understandings for a number of years. Now we expect and want that role to be one, that it's positive that, um, focus is on building positive relationships and strong relationships and an understanding and experience with law enforcement that is positive and carries on the on school. So, um, you know, we do need to pay attention to what's going on nationally and in our communities to see how that informs what the path looks forward for us. But generally I tend to agree with Mr Sutton that we we want to build from a position of what continued collaboration looks like. That is appropriate, respects all is dignified for all and actually achieves the goals that we set out before us. Are there any additional questions. Yeah. Good morning. This is Morgan Norwood from ABC 11. I just wanted to clarify that the plan for the fall is contingent on what the state guidelines are. Um, is there any other information that parents need to know in terms of the schedule? In terms of, is there gonna be a combination of remote learning in classroom learning just to kind of give parents with an idea of what to expect? This all I'll start that, Mr. Sutton, Um, we know that we're gonna be required to engage in five days of remote learning next year. So where we have built those into the calendars that we have revised that the board has adopted, but in terms of specifically beginning the school year with remote or alternating days, or to reduce the capacity in schools we need we do need to wait on what the guidelines are that come out that are recommended around what social distancing will look like in schools In order to finalize what those plans would look like for families. We know that they are eager to see what that's going to look like. And that, quite frankly, some of those decisions will help determine how they re engaged with us. Families do s. So we're hoping that as that guidance comes out next week, we can then narrow the focus on the scenarios that we have been contemplating in planning for so that we can provide more information to our families. But we do need to wait to see what that coyness looks like. Next week, we can take one or two final questions if anyone has one. Okay. Hearing None that will. Briefing that will conclude this briefing. Thank you all for joining us.