Wake County students won't return to classrooms before Oct. 22
Posted August 14, 2020 5:10 a.m. EDT
Updated August 14, 2020 8:25 p.m. EDT
Cary, N.C. — Wake County Schools will no longer transition to in-person classes starting on Sept. 8.
Originally, the school district was planning on starting the year remotely and then transition back to the classroom slowly on Sept. 8.
A spokesperson with the school district said students would be returning to school "no sooner than after the first quarter." The second quarter begins on Oct. 22.
"We will continue monitoring the data, which is our plan," Wake County board chairman Keith Sutton said when asked about when students would be returning to the classroom.
Sutton said the board is working with a medical advisory board made of health professionals with Duke University. Coronavirus data will be monitored over the next couple weeks as it relates to schools opening, he said.
Cathy Moore, superintendent of Wake County Public Schools, said the school is participating in this medical advisory board to build confidence in parents, teachers and students returning back to school.
As of July, about half of the district's students were signed up for the Wake County Virtual Academy, committing them to remote learning for at least the full fall semester.
Online classes start Monday, but the first two weeks of school will be considered orientation -- for students attending school and following Wake County Public School's modified Plan B method of instruction and students enrolled in the Virtual Academy.
"We are paying attention to those numbers and how that goes," Moore said about Virtual Academy enrollment.
Wake County Public Schools has had requests for 38,000 laptops and around 10,000 hotspots. The bulk of distributing these devices begins on Monday, Moore said.
District officials said parents who requested devices will receive an email three days before their device is ready. Anyone who still needs a device for their child can contact their school, officials say.
The Wake County school board said that staff will be reaching out to parents individually.
Some schools may not do live instruction during orientation, officials said.
"We know that not every student will have connectivity the first day of school," said Moore. "We have hundreds of employees and volunteers who will be devoting the next two weeks to reach out to families who need it and support them in getting it."
Students will not be punished in the first couple weeks of school for "getting started later than others," the school system said.
The first couple weeks will be an orientation to get students familiar with online learning.
Teachers will be working with students to gather attendance numbers. Students have to have a "two-way interaction with a teacher" which may look like a virtual classroom meeting, email or phone call. That also may be turning in a daily assignment.
Attendance will look different for each student depending on their technology access, the board said.
After that, the first lessons may include a review of concepts from the last school year – to reduce any learning loss from when COVID-19 closed schools.
Sutton said students "can expect the same high-level instruction as they would if we were opening our school doors on Monday.”