Guilford County Schools' older students will begin returning to classrooms over the next few weeks.

Middle and high school students will return using a cohort model, with half attending in-person on Monday and Tuesday, and the other half on Thursday and Friday. The remaining days will be used for remote learning.

The process will start with sixth and ninth graders during the week of February 22.

The Guilford County Board of Education made its decision Tuesday night, following a presentation about the effects of remote learning on academic progress. Fall End of Course (EOC) test scores and participation were down across all subjects. In another growth assessment, 38% of K-2 students scored average or above average in math.

Superintendent Sharon Contreras says the district is looking at ways to turn those numbers around.

"That's going to have a lifelong impact on our students and we are going to have to act quickly,“ she says.

Some of the proposals include providing more tutoring, apprenticeships and extended school days for students who are falling behind.

"We intend to present plans to the board with new goals and some of them will be very specific to exceptional children, a plan for English language learners and other race-based strategies for African American students and Latino students who are feeling this learning loss at the greatest levels," says Contreras.

According to district surveys, about 70 percent of middle school students and more than 80 percent of high school students say they plan to return for face-to-face learning this semester.

The school system's reentry vote comes on the heels of a recent push by Governor Cooper and state education leaders to get school districts across the state to reopen for in-person instruction. Cooper says the recommendation is based on new research that shows students can be in classrooms safely with the right public health protocols.

*Follow WFDD's Keri Brown on Twitter @kerib_news

For the most up-to-date information on coronavirus in North Carolina, visit our Live Updates blog here. WFDD wants to hear your stories — connect with us and let us know what you're experiencing.

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