Wake County Schools

Wake school board approves plan for spring semester

Posted November 16, 2020 11:18 p.m. EST
Updated November 18, 2020 9:45 a.m. EST

— Wake school board approves plan for spring semester

All Wake County public school students will be back in the classroom starting spring semester.

The Wake County Board of Education approved the following plan on Tuesday night:

  • Pre-kindergarten to fifth grade will remain in full-time in-person instruction
  • Middle schools will stay in three-week rotations with one week in the classroom and two weeks in remote learning
  • High schools will move from remote learning to three-week rotations

The school district will continue to have its online-only Virtual Academy for spring semester, which will help keep schools from being at full capacity.

School leaders said during a work session on Tuesday that about 25% of middle and high school students in the school district failed at least one class during remote learning.

School leaders added that the low academic rate for middle and high school students could be due to lower attendance since 8.8% of students had four or more absences in the first quarter. That number was 5.8% around the same time last year.

Board members said they are continuing to receive concerns from teaches and families who don't feel that it's safe to reopen and bring more students into the classroom.

Jim Martin is the only board member who voted against the second semester plan, arguing that the board isn't fully enforcing 6 feet of social distancing in elementary classes.

"I do not see that the data supports that we should not follow all three W's. My vote is dependent on does the plan right now allow all three W's," Martin said during the meeting.

Parent Carol Avery said the transition to more instructional time in the classroom is an adjustment, but she wants transparency for peace of mind.

"I actually like that the teachers keep in contact with us, and I would like that moving forward to let us know on a daily basis the things that are going on in the school and how they're keeping our children safe," she said.

Tuesday's meeting was limited to 10 people because of Gov. Roy Cooper's executive order on indoor gathering.

Some said the limited attendance kept them from having their voices heard.

Shaun Pollenz, the son of a teacher, said it's a stark contrast to students being back in the classroom.

"What I don't understand is why the governor and the school board feel like [one] of the few places that [the gathering limit] should not apply is in the classroom," said Pollenz.

Pollenz said he wanted an opportunity to speak with board members during the public comment period.

"The best way in America to express your concern is directly with individuals who are empowered to make those decisions on your behalf," he added.

Other parents chimed in on social media about the school board’s decision to suspend in-person attendance for the public.

One called it "utterly disgraceful," while another said the board was "not leading by example."

Board Chairman Keith Sutton said following Cooper's executive order is a difficult but necessary call.

"We're still giving the public access, the media still has access. It may not be in the way they would like it, but they are face-to-face looking us in the eye. We're still in the middle of a pandemic," said Sutton.

Health officials have said there is growing evidence that young children don't spread coronavirus as easily, so it's fine for them to be in a school setting.

The school board started allowing a limited number of people to attend in-person meetings on Oct. 6 when the gathering limit was 25 people.

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