Wake County Schools update on plans to open
Wake County Schools Superintendent Cathy Moore is expected to discuss preparations for the school year
Good morning, Gloria. Good morning. Current morning. Okay. Good morning, everybody. I'm going to mute a couple of people. Good morning, Gloria. Hi of earlier. So I've got to go in. Good morning, everybody. Rooney. All right, I'm meeting somebody who is on the phone. All right, We're gonna get started in a minute. We're gonna be recording in streaming this meeting, so I'm starting the stream, and I'm going to start recording. Good morning, everyone. This is Lisa Luton, communications director for the Wake County Public School system. Thank you, everybody, for joining us. Speaking today will be Keith Sutton, four chair for the Wake County public school system and Kathy More Superintendent. We will take questions after the conclusion of their remarks. When you ask your question, it would be helpful to introduce yourself and your outlet and let us know who you are directing your question to. We're going to start in one minute. Great chair. Sutton will begin with remarks gear. Sudden. Thank you, Lisa. And thank you all for joining us today. I'm Keith Sutton, chair of the Red County Board of Education. Quite a bit has happened since our last briefing on the final day of school in June, and we want to take this time toe a bit you on recent decisions that would affect all of our staff, students and families in the coming weeks and months. Those updates involved plans for a new virtual academy, the approval of a three week rotating schedule based on upcoming state governments, Chalker options, health guidelines, athletics and more. As I said, quite a bit has happened. So returning Cathy Moore will begin superintendent, nor thank you. Sure, Sutton, part of what we would like to accomplish today is to provide staff, parents and the public with a road map for the weeks ahead. When we said in spring that 2020 2021 could look dramatically different, we did not know ourselves what that could mean in detail. But the scope and nature of the details we will share today are certainly in keeping with our basic expectations, and that is what we want to talk about today. Expectations, The ability of all of us staff, families, students, the community to manage our expectations for the coming year is going to be critical to our success. Countless times in the past four months, we have wish there was a way to return to normal. That just isn't going to happen. Every decision made by principals and teachers this year will inevitably be tied to the state health guidance, guidance and the legal requirements that are handed to school systems. Understanding this reality is critical to understanding school operations in the weeks of Head. Last week, the Wake Board of Education approved three plans for the reopening of schools. All three plans were required by the state. The governor has yet to announce which approach he prefers and whether he will require all schools to take the same approach. The least restrictive plan would require all students and all staff report as usual, with heightened health routines and protections. 2/3 of our families have made it clear they are uncomfortable and opposed this approach. The majority of our staff agreed. These opinions are based on thousands of survey responses from parents and educators that were then echoed when hundreds mawr attended virtual meetings with our school board members in June. The most restrictive plan required by the state would close our school buildings and return us entirely too remote instruction. That plan is also widely opposed by parents. The plan in between mixes in person and remote learning, one week of learning on campus and two weeks of learning off campus. It ensures that students will work with a certified teacher nearly every day and be in touch with school every day. We're also offering students a fully virtual academy if they do not wish to return to campus at all. I want to be clear that in person instruction for all students would be our best instructional option. But the current spread of Cove in 19 shows no signs of ending soon, and we will not sacrifice the safety and well being US staff or students. Our teachers understandably have a lot of questions about how they can teach students in two locations at the same time. This is one of the areas where we need to rethink our expectations of school. In this model, 1/3 of students would be in the classroom at any given time. However, all teachers and staff would report to the building each day. This means the opportunities to redistribute work could be dramatically different. Think about how a day could change if there were only seven or eight students in each class every day, about 1/3 the normal amount. Think about the role of instructional assistance and specialists and how it could change if the physical workload of all staff in the building was reduced in middle and high school. Think about the way grade level teens and professional learning teams are organized. And most importantly, I think about the ways in which staff could use increased flexibility to support each other. That flexibility is the key to simultaneously supporting students on campus and off campus. And this brings me to another expectation we need to manage. Flexibility is not endless. We cannot expect teachers and staff to be responsible for everything. Temperature checks, health surveys, face coverings, social distancing all while mastering a new approach to classroom instruction. There will be limits to what schools can offer without additional resource is and people. Another significant area of concern for many of our employees is child care. Without child care, the teachers, bus drivers, cafeteria staff and other employees will be unable to keep our schools running. This is why creating a child care option for all employees and parents who cannot be a home has become a top priority. On this point, I'm going to turn to chair Sutton to offer additional details that directly affect students and families. Thank you, Super 10 More. I want to echo Superintendent Moore's comments about the importance of chalk here as we work to provide students the best education possible within the constraints imposed by this pandemic. Staff has been working closely with the Y. M. C. A of the triangle and municipal recreation programs to identify thousands of child care slots. We anticipate the school dish will focus on his employees, while the UAE and others will focus on other families. Private providers and local church programs will also be brought into the conversation in the coming days, and corporate support will be requested to help underwrite some of these costs. But in keeping with super tuned Moore's comments about expectations, this is another area where it is important to understand what we believe is possible. It is critical that we find a way to offer child care for as little as possible to those who need it most. We do not, however, expect to provide free care to everyone working together with the why We will offer details in the coming days or weeks. As we know, families and staff need this critical piece of information to plan for the months ahead. For those who are riding buses to school, we want to emphasize the importance of health guidelines. We will expect bus riders, toe wear, face coverings and answer a simple three question survey before boarding the bus. It will almost certainly take a few days for students to get used to this new routine, but it is unavoidable on the state's newest rules. While bus routes and ridership have always played a key role in school schedules, it is hard to understate how important they are during this pandemic. Put simply, state guidelines that limit ridership toe one child proceed literally dictates the number of bus riders who can attend school on any given day. That is why it is critical for us to know as accurately as possible how many plan to ride the bus next year. Those who are currently registered for transportation have until Monday to decline by visiting www dot w c p ss. Gotten it or what's last decline? Bus. Those who signed up for transportation should have received the link to that survey in your email or as a text throughout school Messenger system. Another equally important piece of information for the coming year be the number of students who choose to enroll in the school systems. New Virtual Academy The window to a plaque with Academy Open today and will remain open through July 20th. I strongly encourage you to visit W C p ss dot net ford slash virtual Hyphen Academy to learn more. Once we know the number of students who wish to attend the academy, we can better determine class sizes, schedules and chalker needs. For those who will be attending our schools in person, there are two quick points I like to make about Aperture Academy before I leave this topic. The first is that students in the academy will remain enrolled and they're currently assigned schools. When schools are able to operate normally again, we want students to return to the schools where they are currently. Besides, the other point involves course offerings. Okay, eight core courses and all high school courses required for graduation will be offered. It would not be feasible. Toe offer all special classes and elective programs in a fully online environment. Specials and elective programs will be offered, but the exact line of classes will depend on both student demand and teacher availability. Again, please review the information at W. C p ss dot net boards. Last virtual hyping academy form or information enrollment is open until July 20. A super tenant more say it. When she opened today's comments, many parts of the school year will be different. Based on current guidelines, we expect to bring all students to campus in staggered groups the first and second weeks off school for imitation. We were then moved to a three week rotation, as described earlier. We will be watching closely, of course, when the governor makes his announcements later this month. But we believe that path we're following allows us to move toward full enrollment or foreclosure, depending on what state guidelines require. It also provides certified teachers to every student with an intense offer. Chalk here when the much of the information shirt with you today can be found at W. C. P. Ss dot net forward slash returned to campus. I was trying to encourage you to read it today. Our school board fully understood. It did not need to approve its three plans on July 2nd. But by letting our families and staff no sooner rather than later what to expect and why We are all in a better place to educate Children, sir, families and support the broader community in the coming weeks and months. We appreciate everyone's input and patience as we work together to make the 2020 2021 school year and academic success for our students. At this time, we will take questions from the media. Please state your name and the name of the media organization you represent. Hi, this is Gloria Rodriguez with ABC 11. So enough, Superintendent More, you touched a little bit about the teachers. But I wanted to see if we get more specifics about how the teachers will be teaching when it comes to the rotation. Will they be spending some of their time remote teaching as well, or will they be in class the whole time? Can you give a little more more details on that? I think that, um, we're what we're working on is providing schools with options for what that might look like. Each school has their own set of expectations and norms for how they function as teams and a school community. So I think it's going to be important for the teachers to work together at the building level to see what how they want to set their work up. I think this is a case where we now have a sense of our students as opposed to my students, potentially depending on how folks do that. And there may be a rotation that allows teachers to make contact with students during the school day. But how that happens really is going to depend on how those teachers within the kindergarten pod or the sixth grade math team or the ninth grade language arts teams organized themselves to work with their students. I don't think that there's one way that that will happen, and I have one more question. With many appearance expressing interest in home schooling options, are there concerns that the district could lose a lot of funding for these students? It clearly the each district receives funding based on the number of students it serves. If families make a choice to homeschool their students, that would be funding that the district did not receive. I think that is also it's a primary driver in terms of being responsive to our families, to provide a virtual academy that provides everything that families and students could need to continue to make great level progress where they are, or towards graduation if they are in high school, so that we are providing a robust school system option for those families who have the most concerns about returning to school. Holding her wiki with CBS 17 Is there any concerns about a potential sub shortage? I know in a typical year, it seems like District's. We're always looking for qualified subs. I could start with that, Mr Sun. So, um, every year we have concerns about whether or not we have enough bus drivers. Whether or not we have enough substitutes, I think that will continue to be the case as we move forward. And that to how subs engage will need to be part of the coordination as we move forward. And it is something that our Human Resources Department is working off. Just a quick follow up to that question real quick. If a teacher worded to contract cove it, how would the leave situation work out there, would they be required to take their time off? Obviously, younger teachers don't have two weeks of sick time. So that is also those are also questions that are human resource Department is working on. We were gonna have to follow whatever the state guidelines are. We will exercise maximum flexibility that we have with that. We know that it's important to take care of our teachers and our staffs just like it is to take care of our students and our families. Um, and we really are looking at balancing all of those priorities as we move forward. Adam with WRL News. Do we have an idea of the breakdown? How many teachers have decided that they feel they can work with the students in person in schools? And how many have said that they need to do something different perhaps online only for them? I can start with that as well, Mr Sutton? Um, not not yet. We are asking teachers to let us know we've been collecting some data and giving them an opportunity over the last 10 days or so to let us know if they have concerns. If they want to request an accommodation. Eso were gathering that information. Now we will continue to do so as our teachers submit that information to us. It's important for us to understand that so that we can appropriately have the staff that we need in buildings if we're able to open for students to come in and for how we provide resource is that support the virtual academy as well as the remote learning if we're open in Plan B, so we don't have numbers on that yet. But we are collecting another question. Adam WRL I know that there was mentioned earlier that you guys wanted to go ahead and get these plans out, even though we don't have the final decisions, maybe from the state right now so that you could alert parents and playing time for them to start making decisions. How difficult is it to put these plans in place without that finality from the state? And do you think when you do finally, here the final plant, it could change some things that some plans you've already made. I'll start with that to return Dittemore. You know, I think it's better for us to be prepared and have these multiple scenarios in place and then hearing the governor's plans next week later this month that we're able to pivot from that as opposed to waiting on, then having to respond. So what we hear are from the government we think we think against I stayed in my comments, having these plans and scenarios outfront early so that parents, students on the community employees know what to expect and how to begin to plan around these different scenarios and then tweaking those plans and as we need to pave it if that's the case, is a better place to be super Jenna More. I agree. Um, we also have some different calendars, although we're trying to move to align them. Um, but it's important for families to have an understanding for us to continue to get feedback in reaction and is kind of the word that I mentioned earlier flexibility. This is a place where we have to exercise flexibility whether it is pivoting from one plan to another, whether that happens next week or it happens in October or happens in December. Uhm, we've got to be ready for all of those Krell fancying with spectrum news holding took my, uh, substitute line questions. So I'm gonna ask, is there a target that your target percentage target that you're trying to hit with a virtual academy? Um, you know, I would. I would not say that there is a target that we're trying to hit with regards to enrollment in the virtual Academy. I do know that from the surveys that were deployed to families and those who responded, approximately 30% of the families who responded were interested in a virtual academy in an option that did not require them to return to school. We will see what that looks like as as enrollment starts to come in. Holding Kulwicki with CBS 17 Again, I just wanted to ask very quickly, we determined how many teachers will be part of the virtual academy, or are you still in the process of trying to reach out and see who would be interested? Well, there's two pieces to that. The first is which students signed up for register for the virtual Academy. The grade levels that they're in the courses that they are requesting, what they what they've currently signed up for, because that's what we're starting with We're looking at the courses that kids have already signed up for when it comes to middle and high school. And then once we see what students have have expressing interest and they would like to be a part of the virtual Academy were also looking then at teachers who may have a need to not be in the building, um, or who are not able Teoh, who are have expressed a preference for the virtual academy so that we can match some staffing. Um, we won't know that until we get that information, but we need both to understand what our staffs are asking for and what our students are asking for. Hi, this is Gloria Rodriguez again with ABC 11 for parents who are going to be doing the rotation. When should they expect the date of their groups? They construct fanning for their school year, so we're it will have to work on that as we get information on who's not going to be there. So that's that's why we have timelines for asking families to ask for the Virtual Academy by the 20th. So we have a new idea of who we do need to split We'll be able to do that after that time. I would anticipate sometime in early August, depending on how that's happening, uh, knowing that our schools don't start until the 17th but we'll be working on it. As we get these registrations in. We'll go ahead and start calling those lists so that we can determine how to do that. It's just gonna be dependent on the other factors as well. And just to confirm there's no cap on how many can be a part of the virtual academy, right? So pretty much anybody who applies will be accepted. We do not have a cap. We do have some language that we want and to encourage our parents to read around three expectations almost like a profile for a student who was successful in a virtual academy. It is. It is not for every student, um, and so we want to make sure that our families are thoughtfully considering that option and making the best choice for their child. But there is no cat. Carell Sampson at Spectrum News. Once again, speaking of cats, is there any cats? See the daycare situation with the employees and for parents, any number that will cut off people taking advantage of it. So what we are working on is identifying in our schools where there is space, Um, we will need toe and we can't make incremental ensure that the capacity the building doesn't go above what it's supposed to which way do have identified that we have spaces in some of our buildings? Um, but we're also going to have to maintain social distancing and those places and precautions in those areas as well. So I wouldn't say that there's a cap number for the district. We are looking forest, many spaces as we can and as many locations as we can and with the why as many partners as we can so that we're providing as many options as we can for both staff and families. Adam With WRL News I imagine one of the components to that child care will also be making sure that the people caring for the Children can also facilitate that learning during those two weeks office is that part of what you guys are considering making sure you have people. They're not only maybe just a baby sit, but also to facilitate that just it's learning that is correct, as we've worked with our partners to look at options for students who need care during the remote learning weeks. A component of that partnership is how we ensure that there's an ability to facilitate and support the remote learning for the students during that time as well. Hi, I've hurts and parents especially concerned about recirculated air in classrooms. Is there anything about that that's being looked at as far as recirculated air? So it's have gotten those same emails as well. And, um, we have asked our facilities department to be prepared to respond to questions about recirculated air cleaning protocols all how how we will be providing those materials teachers so we'll get information about that out to everyone, but but I've received the same questions as well. So we're researching how we can respond and what our options are. There even use names over I'm hearing from. Some parents were saying that they're uncomfortable signing up for the Virtual academy when there aren't enough details interview about how it's gonna work. Is it fair flee? You know, the parents to be able to sign up not having all these things known for them right now so that, you know, we're hearing we're hearing that as well. And so what we're asking our staff to look at in academics is how we can provide additional details. If there are opportunities to engage parents who may have questions, there are several. They might email a board member. They might emails to pretend it's office, um, for their principles. And then we are. We're being responsive to those families on DCAA, contacting them specifically to see what their questions are. The questions can get very specific, especially for talking about electives and that sort of thing. But we are building this academy based on what our families our students have asked for. So I think it's important that they do continue to communicate with us so that we can be responsive and provide the answers that they need and the detail that they need. Kathy is appointed privilege of just going toe chime in two currents. Question current. There's an email going out to parents today with an invitation for the academy, and on it there will be a list of frequently asked questions to respond to some of those that the parents get more information. Carell Santana Let the news once again, we'll students staff be wearing masks. What will the situation look at it kept for cafeteria lies Recess. What's the new marble gonna look like for a class every day? So, um, the guidance that we have received from the state in the case at all middle and high school students are expected to wear masks on, and that would be on the bus and in school buildings. So we will be following that guy. It's, um, for elementary schools. We will be asking students to wear masks on the bus. Um, but weird. And we're not yet asking them to wear them in schools. We haven't made some final determinations around larger areas. We may be exercising an option and some schools and grade levels for students to have lunch in their classrooms to reduce traffic in the halls. We don't We're not going toe have we cannot have places that have large gatherings of students, So we're needing to adapt to that, and we need to look at the school level at their spaces in their capacities to best understand that. So I think our principles will be doing that work. But that is that the general guidance that we have so far, which obviously is subject to change as North Lana DHHS or local health officials make changes as well. Hi, Gloria, Right begins again with ABC 11. With students getting two weeks off and going to childcare facilities is, they're concerned that possibly they could be exposed at other locations and then bring it back to school. And is there anything that could be done to prevent that? So I think that, um, if students are in any type of rotation in and out of school, um, we really do have to depend on both the folks that are providing support for remote learning and our parents and our families because that would happen on the weekends and after school, when kids were not in classrooms either. So they're always going to be times and spaces and places where if our students are not in the classroom, they are in other places that where they could risk an exposure. And so it's going to be important that in those places that our families are well informed and taking precautions as well as those providers are going to need to do so in adhere to guidelines. Also, I think that that this is an area where a partnership that extends beyond the school to our communities, our care providers, our families is going to really be important. We're running up to 1/2 hour. So is there one last question? Adam with WRL News A lot of what's happening right now, it appears to be, is waiting on parents to make their decision so you can see where things fall was still waiting to hear exactly what teachers prefer to see, where things fall, that has to take place, getting that information and so you can make those decisions. But it seems the window, once you have a lot of those determinations and when school starts is pretty tight. What are your thoughts on having toe set up everything which you have that information in a pretty tight window and what that will require of principals and teachers in a tight window? Um, you're absolutely right. It is a tight window, but it is our responsibility and our obligation to both listen and respond and then plan for the best possible scenarios that we can on DWI will spend the time that we have doing exactly that. Um, we know that this is going to be a heavy lift for schools, for teachers, for parents. Um and so the flexibility that we mentioned earlier in past sessions, we talked about some patience and grace. All of that continues to be in play, but we also have expectations. And so we're balancing that new school year is a new opportunity. And even in the midst of this cove in 19 pandemic, whatever the school opening looks like for W C P SS in the next school year, we wanted to be a positive and meaningful experience with high levels of teaching and learning for our students. And so we will continue to plan for that, however bigger, short that window it's. And with that, we're going to conclude if reporters have additional questions. You're welcome to email me. Appreciate your time today. Thank you.