Wake schools leaders prepare for return of more students
School Board Chair Keith Sutton and Superintendent Cathy Moore join Principal Chris Bradford at Wake Forest Middle School to talk about the next round of students who will return to the classroom.
we are excited to welcome middle school students. Uh, toe in person instruction, as you know on Monday way are equally excited about the last couple of weeks, and our youngest students have had their just competing their first round of rotations reports from our elementary schools, eyes that all is well. All is going very well. Wear pleased with what we've seen so far. Teachers are excited to see the kids. There is, ah, high compliance rate among our staff and students toe the safety protocols and procedures that we have put in place. We are encouraging, uh, them as well as our minister school students coming in this week to practice the three W's eso. We want to repeat that message today as we welcome the first rotation of our middle school students. We have a collective responsibility for health and state of all of those around us as well as ourselves. Again, those three W's azi reinforce those where face covering wait apart to create much distance as possible and, of course, washing your hands. We also encourage both students and staff. Stay home when you are sick. When your child is sick, keep them at home all students and staff will be required to pass a health screening before they enter the building. On this is a daily effort In order to keep people who are sick out of our buildings, they cannot come to school if they have the following. That's a fever, chills, shortness of breath, new cough or lost taste or smell in order for our schools not only reopened but to stay open, we must all follow these routes. We ask our parents to help your Children prepare for school on Monday. Please do that by first talking with your students and helping them to prepare for school. Talk with them about what to expect. Discuss the importance of wearing a mask. Let them know that it's a way that we show our friends, teachers and community that we care about. Also practice hand washing practice, social distancing. Get them used to that. Retain that pattern and model this behavior for them, which is also important. There are resource is on our website toe help with that way encourage parents also use that as a resource as well. Finally, we want to say thank you, a Z have continued to do and showing our appreciation on we appreciate the work that our parents have done. Thank you for your support. Thank you to our teachers and support staff. They have done tireless work and dedication to help make this possible for returning to schools. Thank you also to our community partners. We've seen an enormous investment from our community partners who reached out during this crisis. Some of those, including the way kind of public health, Duke University, Y M C. A waking up partnership, activate good hundreds of volunteer organizations, churches and the light. So again, way say, thanks with that turned over the superintendent, Kathy More good morning. All in developing this plan for the reopening of schools. We have partnered with some of the brightest pediatricians and epidemiologists in our area, and they have told us consistently that the pathway to a safe re opening for school depends on the implementation of the safety measures and protocols that we have put in place and ensuring that way are following those and they are centered around the three W's, as chair Sutton just explained. In order to ensure that we're promoting and creating the culture of compliance around the three W's. We've established three different tools that we're gonna be using in our schools to make sure that we are doing that. First, we're providing all staff members with an opportunity to fill out a survey every day at the end of every day. If they would, like, tell us that everything went well in their school that day or that can also tell us areas where they saw concern, if there was, if there was masking, that wasn't happening if there was not availability of PPE or other materials or supplies. That survey is something that can be reviewed immediately by the principal on a daily basis, to ensure that all staff have everything that they need in the building and that the culture of compliance is in fact, in place. A second tool that we put in place is that we've asked our leadership team thes air area superintendents and other members of the superintendent's leadership team to visit schools on a regular basis to check and ensure and provide support as needed. If if we see that there are areas of concern or if we want to celebrate areas of success, thing creates sort of a third party that comes into the schools that checks and sees to make sure that we are doing the things that we're asking of our folks and that were being successful in the implementation of the three W's and then third item that we've put in place is out of an abundance of caution and making sure that we have full transparency around what we're doing. We actually have a confidential reporting app that staff have access to, so that if they feel concerned about identifying themselves with regards to something that they see in the school, they have a method to let us know about that so that we could have immediate follow up on that as well. So we do feel that those tools that we're putting in place really will support the implementation of the three W's and the culture of compliance that we need to make sure that we can maintain our schools open safely. Another item that you have probably seen this week as we have put up a dashboard with our coded metrics. Those metrics are updated weekly after we confirm with our county health officials the data that's on that dashboard as expected, way do have cases and I think the important point to take away here. As we've worked with the Science Collaborative, they've made it clear if there's cove it in the community, we're gonna have cove it in schools. The key is that we limit spread in schools that we not have spread in schools. If we cannot have spread in schools, then we are successful Lee implementing our safety protocols. We think it's also important to know that if we do get a cluster and we find that there is spread way do have steps in place. We'll talk more about those next week with the folks from the ABC Science Collaborative. But we do have steps in place that will allow us to review the data, do an action review of the protocols and the processes that are in place, policies that need the and then make changes or adjustments or other decisions as needed. Working closely with the ABC Science Collaborative and our local health community, those those folks will be the partners that help us with that review of what's going on with the data so that we can make good decisions. We will look for lessons learned, and then we will make changes as needed. The last piece that I want to talk about and you've heard us talk about this quite a bit, you know, as we return to school now with middle school students next week in our third cohort of elementary school students, our kids, teachers, the staff in schools, they've worked really hard to be prepared for this. And while there's a high level of anxiety, there's also a high level of commitment, and we wanna make sure that we are prepared for Monday for the new group of students that will be coming into middle schools. Things are very different for all of us right now. It's gonna take time for folks to get used to what is different in schools, and that includes the students. So we will continue to ask for grace and flexibility so that we can make sure that we are all on the same page with working together and taking care of each other. Our teachers feel that stress and our teachers feel that commitment, so we wanna make sure that we are working together towards the common end of making sure that we are reopening our schools safely. So on Monday, whether your student is learning from home or returning toe one of our campuses, please extend that grace, flexibility, kindness and cooperation to your classroom teacher to your school staff so that we can maintain our schools open way. Know that our goal has been face to face instruction. Return to in person instruction on. We wanna make sure that it is successfully done. Thank you for your way. Yep. How many? We'll be coming back. It's coming. Um, let me let me do the math in my head again. I did that last time. We have a number Custom 202 100 here about Leslie Less than 200 here on. I think it depends on the size of the middle school. Andi. How many of the kids were in virtual Academy? But again, if you do the math about 12,000 per grade level, there's three grade levels at 36 half of those 18 or in virtual academy. A third of those come in, so that would be about 6000 district wide. A district wide. Yeah, that's an approximation You wear a e A. Was the lesser numbers like the 40 50 grand. So on this security is how does that change the game? In terms of these buildings? I know they're bigger buildings, but also we're gonna have more people than in the right. So I think it's also It is also why we're still doing thirds right. We need to ease into return to in person instruction to make sure that both the staff and the students are comfortable with the protocols and by going in in the rotations, it allows all a chance to practice and get ready. And right now, um, with current state of the governor's orders for schools, way must be in a hybrid model for middle and high school. There's not. There's not an option for a return to full in person, right? Both policies are no, I know they have are not. Yeah, perfect by, but obvious. So high, different with all. Yeah, I think it's the protocols don't change at this point. But what is important is that we are checking that we're following the protocols, that we're building that culture of compliance and that folks are engaging in the activities that ensure the safe re opening. So that is a part of the reason that we've, you know, stood up three different ways to gather data on that so that we can make sure that those things are happening. Obviously, if the community metrics continue to go in the wrong direction and I hope that they don't, um if we see that translating into anything in our schools will need toe do that action review that I told you about earlier so that we could see if there is a need to change something. But at this point, we are focusing on the messages that we've already sent and making sure that we are, in fact, following the three W's and the protocols have the safety equipment available at the school in carry. There were some classes that had 2 to 3 students of her class. Do you know district wide with the minimum number of students per class and with Max, number will be, Yeah, that's hard to tell, Um, and you're trying in middle school in particular Overall, Yeah, so it's just that's hard to tell. It's a school level sort of decision based on how they divided their cohorts and the percentage of kids from that particular school that are in virtual academy versus in person way. We're trying to continue to focus on ensuring that we have, um, the maximum social distancing possible in the classroom. So I think for middle schools were still under the requirement of 6 ft social distancing S O that would drive class sizes down a little bit. Lower elementary school, um, can go higher, but way have to look at the actual school and the number of kids to see on the size of classrooms based on, you know, the age of the building. So there's so many factors. Let's say, on Monday, when we had 2 to 3 shooters for class, it it is possible because it's the third rotation for elementary school. And so this is the third group of students that has not yet been to in person instruction. So they may still, they will still be that way. Beginning November 16. Um, pre k the third grade will return to full in person, so those classes should be full. At that point. I'm sorry. I was just gonna follow, But is it accurate to say max number? You could have classes with 20 students per class from Monday this coming Monday. It really depends on how the elementary school has done there there, their division of students, but K three class sizes limits are around 2021 22 20. And then they have, ah, waiver where they can go up to 22. So if they're able Thio, that's possible. But it shouldn't be across the district until the following week. Terms of the dash the past 25 paces rewarding. I know we're not saying teachers. Do you have any kind of percentage as faras happel? Percent of those cases so far, our staff fact perfect. I don't have that information on hand Way could try to take a look at it way. We've been advised that we should stay away from reporting students from staff, especially given that in some situations we don't even have students really in the building very much. Um, but you know that dashboard for us, is also something that is new and that we will continue to review update modify as we find that there are needs or additional piece of information that are that are important. This one invite cases given two weeks. I know you were saying there's covenant community there's gonna be covered in the schools Have to characterize that 25 in terms of success, we don't have any active clusters. Do you view 25 kind of isolated cases has, Well, za difficult question for me to answer because I want to see it a zero, right? I mean, I don't want any cases in our schools, but we know that that's not a realistic goal. So at this point, where I then go is I wanna make sure that we are limiting spread, and so I feel good about the fact that we're limiting spread at this point. But we do need to continue to see what happens. A Z, the cases come in and the contact tracing is done by the county health department. So still, ways to go. And I know we're gonna talk about it, but school starts on Monday before the board meeting. Can you talk about just some of the differences, but this point of coke in case and what steps are being taken and what you guys are prepared to do with coca Cluster? So for a case and then I think you could find this information on the website and our return to campus guide that's available for anyone to look at a new individual case. We will need thio. Look at well for that person. There's contact tracing that needs to happen. Um, that that's handled by the Health Department. But in terms of the school facility in the building, certainly there is. If we needed, go in and clean classrooms or hallways or areas. Um, speak to other people thio as part of that contact tracing process to ensure that we followed protocols or if there were not, if there were issues with clients there, um, we want to prepare the space and the people to stay in in person instruction or be in the building as needed. If there is a cluster, we need to review more carefully what the circumstances were, because that indicates spread in the building on. So we just need thio understand more clearly what led to that If it was a lack of masking protocol or a lack of social distancing this close for questions, Um, that's a decision. And then I said this a few times. The decision to close the school would need to be made in collaboration with the folks from our local health department and or, um, consultation with the ABC Signs collaborative. Once we looked at our after action review and determine whether or not that was a necessary step way girl aren't wearing their basements or are their health. So way have, Ah, we have a process right now where every person who does a health screening, which is that there's an it's an automated process where you can answer the questions, take your temperature, enter that information and then you get a verification that you have passed your health screening and you can report toe work for that day. If you don't pass the health screening, you get a notification that you cannot report to work that thing. So the supervisors of the people who azi people are feeling that out. Get an email every day that lets you know who has passed or not passed their health screening. So if you haven't you get that notification and if you have, you see that you've taken it. So it's very important for all of our supervisors to check on a daily basis to ensure that the people that report to them are, in fact, taking the health screening, Um, at story project something building. There is a self, um, monitoring process that almost all of our staff, they're going before they even come into the building. Um, there are also processes at the building for any staff who don't have the email with the green check mark on it that says you successfully passed your screening. If you don't have that, when you come to the building, then you are screened at the building. And that's the process that we follow for parents and students as well. So you either do it before you get here or when you get here way. That's a very well teachers administrators. How do we know that they're being on their self reporting? It's a self report, and so we have to rely on our folks to understand how important it is to follow the safety protocols to do the screening process, Um, every single day. And to be honest about their responses, um, I think that's the expectation that we set with the letters that are being sent home to schools. I talked to Lisa yesterday. She was saying those air. Just unconfirmed. Somebody calls in. They say, you know, we have coke and you know, you sent the letter out as fast as possible. Parents? Are you seeing any, You know, translation into how that impacts attendance in the day after. And, you know, two days after are less people showing up to school when those letters were sent out, we don't We don't have any data on that at this point. We have heard anecdotally from a couple of principles that they will get calls from parents who have questions on DSO. Principles were handling those conversations at the school level. If there are parents or staff that have any questions or anxiety about that, you guys are starting to organizing the commercial was happy numbers for next semester. We're seeing this rise in cases. Are you seeing a blood of more people than you expected because of that? Or did the number see right where you thought? So We don't have those numbers yet either because we just close that window a day or so ago and we have to go in and clean up the data because a lot of times and this happened the first time as well as families. They're doing it way. Have some duplicate data in there. We have to do some clean up and that sort thing. So we may. We may have some numbers next Tuesday. Um, we're working towards trying to clean up the data because of how long that takes. During the last news conference, I had asked about whether more students were failing. I heard that from teachers. Have you gotten any more data to show that way? Are planning on presenting some information to the board at the November 17th board work session specifically to address what we're seeing with grades and attendance? Because those are often very closely linked. We do have a higher failure rate than we had first semester, first quarter, same time the year before, But again, we're making sure that we're looking at incompletes and other data that's in there and cleaning all of that up. And and as I said at the board meeting last last time that we met, you know the failure, the letter F. The failure is one piece of information that clearly tells us something. It is the work behind the F that is really important to do understand if it's related to attendance or test grades or, um, if it's related to not turning, is it not turning in work? Is it doing work but not being counted? President? I mean, what what are the things that are impacting it? So So we're getting that feedback as a part of what we're gonna provide to the board on 17 High schoolers plan Still have back in class that January Has anything changed with so the the planning assumptions that we provided to the board a toe last board meeting in preparation for staff bringing a proposal on Tuesday planning assumption was that high school would return to in person instruction for second semester with the three week rotation. And that is what we will update the board on Tuesday and you're still well, now you'll have to come Tuesday that start planning assumption E O. There. We've talked to them that they're doing more jobs to three jobs and, you know, before our team or and what additional responsibilities are they take. So you know the thing that's really shifted, Um, and it's and it's in a couple of different arenas. So instruction, what instruction looks like has shifted, and we have many teachers across the district that are teaching students that are fully virtual, and they are now either teaching or getting ready to teach students that are also coming into the classroom. And so it Z, they're doing both of those. And that really increases the load on teachers in terms of the not just the number of students that they might be responsible for, that that might not change that much, but the modality in which they're having to teach them and keep up with their achievement and grades and all of the work that is planning You plan differently for in person instruction than you would for remote instruction. So so that is that that is something that has been added to teachers plates. And then if you have students in the classroom, you're having to also be eyes and ears around symptoms. And what happens with the screening way are working with the science that the ABC Science Collaborative to see if there's a way that we can facilitate screening for students prior to getting to the campus. That would be very helpful because that would reduce the time of the screening needs to happen when kids get to campus, but that's still in development. E O. Probably the state health director said yesterday that the state is not seen schools as a big driver of cases. Does that make you feel more comfortable as a welcome back? Um, but state health director said yesterday is is consistent with what we're hearing from the folks that are part of the ABC Science Collaborative as well that the places where they have done research studies and where they have started gathering data even in North Carolina from those District's that opened in August under a Plan B scenario, is that the number of cases in schools was far lower than what you were seeing overall in the community, and that so schools were not seen as spreader locations and Children in particular. So it is. It is consistent with our planning assumptions in terms of how we're making decisions. And so, um, I hope that that continues to bear out Joe, Did you have last question? Just one country, I guess in a normal year, I feel like this is maybe a personal question for you. You have, you know, the weight on your shoulders and making sure that kids are getting the education that they deserve. Are you feeling this added pressure with these kids coming back and having toe hold in safety? How much are you feeling that pressure to keep the kids safe? Um, I think that anyone who is a part of the Wake County public school system right now is feeling a high level of stress, anxiety and commitment to ensuring that we are safely reopening schools. It is the number one priority around. Reopening is safety, and that is a staff of students of anyone who comes on that campus. We know how important in person instruction is. We know how important the continuation of learning is for kids. And so we want to make sure that we're doing this right and taking every step possible to make Thio show that our schools could safely really key offensive earlier that you've seen high compliance with students and staff who are fouling. Help us. Have you have you don't have this situation where you had to remove any students from in person? E. I'm not aware of any of any situation like that at this time. last question. I'll take one more assed faras, different areas that you're watching. I know that athletics has been an area from the collaborative that they have really worn. If you know Kobe is going to come into your school, it could be through athletics. How closely are you making sure those protocols are followed, Especially when it comes to right? So way have asked all of our coaches and athletic directors to sort of do some training modules on what's expected so that they are aware. Andi. Actually, we may very well be discussing that some with the ABC Science Collaborative staff on Tuesday at the work session as well. But athletics area of concern in terms of bringing that e think, Um, I think any any any person who's coming onto a school campus is going to bring with them whatever they've done outside the school campus. And we know that a lot of our athletes participate in athletics outside of school as well. So, yes, it would be an area of concern or monitoring, at least on DWI. Wanna talk about that? Like I said a little bit more on Tuesday because way wanna make sure that in all aspects of our return to school way are implementing the best and recommended safety measures. Thank you. Hi. All right where you're going to transition their principal Bradford. Have a couple of remarks, have the opportunity to ask questions, and then we'll start our tourism side people. Rafferty's Good Morning. We're thankful to have each and every one of you out here waiting for us middle school. So welcome on behalf of our students, staff and faculty way. We're excited about Monday. It's been, I think, about seven or eight months since we've seen kids in these hallways. And so just that noise and that excitement that they bring in the building were looking forward Thio on Monday morning. We have done, I believe, a great job of training our staff with the protocols things. They're gonna look different for our students when they re enter, but preparing them and also communicating with our families, uh, to let them know what is going to be different. A zoo recently last night, how the virtual open house so our families could come and meet our teachers again. Ask any questions of our administrative team and counselors that they may have that. Hopefully they will feel confident and secure that we're gonna take care of their Children when they show up on Monday. What a wonderful of the these questions you're getting from parents like what are they most I just wanna make sure that, you know, we've done in types. I think the biggest question has been about masks what is gonna be allowed and what's not. So I think it's very aware that they're gonna have to be wearing those. And that's very assuring to know that, you know, we kind of accept that that is the norm. Now, on DSO they wanna make sure that what they're gonna wear into that building is going to be acceptable for their child. No way will be eating in the cafeteria. We've we're gonna take an opportunity to show that you guys in a little bit, but we've got them socially distanced. Um, you know, appropriately within the cafeteria, they'll all be facing one way. Um, they will have their masks off when they're actively eating. And then they will put those back on a Z. We complete our lunch time. They felt changed class. They? Yes, ma'am. So they will be changing classes. We're gonna have one way, hallways. We're gonna have some staggered dismissal to limit the number of kids in the hallways on. And then our gym. That's another space we hope to show you guys today. We're gonna socially distance in there and make sure that we're following all the protocols. And obviously, you know, with beautiful weather down here in North Carolina and it's being warmer, we're gonna try to get him outside as much as possible as well. I feel awful days off. We will follow the district schedule for the asynchronous days. That is gonna be one day. I believe that's posted online. I'm not 100% sure. I'd have to be. Oh, yes. Okay. It's not yet a holiday fact. And just from you're gonna have about 200 students here Monday. And how many normally eso we are, Kappa. Our enrollment this year was 11 87. So we will have 200 kids roughly, um, this is our largest cohort That will be coming back. I believe the others fall around 1 60 for our 2nd 3rd cohorts. That will be returning. What are your average class size that ranges anywhere from four in our smallest class to 14, probably in our largest core class. And typically we would see 32. Probably in this core classes. How have you got You adjust any of the class schedules to accommodate three camps? Are you just gonna have toe simultaneously, teach virtual states and in prison? So we've left that a lot up to r p L T s on. They've been working very closely together collectively as a collaborative group, for example, R p e department. They will be one teacher's gonna focus on working with those remote virtual kids. And then we'll have to teachers dedicated working with those in person kids. So it really is kind of based on what they feel their comfort level, way wanted to provide them with that opportunity s so that they could have a say in what, like I said, what they feel comfortable doing, I know that something is inaccurate that one of your cohorts will only have, like, four days in the classroom before the end of semester. Not 100% sure on that off the top of my head. But again, we're following the district's calendar. There is this kind of like, Not much vital in terms of safety. But, you know, hearing up with second semester take this last three weeks of the semester is kind of make sure about Well, our staff has been providing very rigorous instruction throughout this, so I don't think anything is going to change in terms of that. Obviously, when they come back to the building, we're gonna have to take some time to establish protocols. We would have done that in August when students started, you know, school. So it's really gonna be treated like a first day when they come in. But then we're gonna hit the ground back and get back to that instruction that they've been providing. Alright. If everyone is good, bring official right there. If you bring your screener out, get these guys screen