Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools is continuing with its plan to bring back more students for in-person learning.
The school board paused its reopening plan in November because of the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the community. But it's now moving forward.
On Monday, January 11, grades 2, 3 and 6 will return.
The following week (Jan.19), Grades 4, 5, 7 and 8 will head back. High school students are also scheduled to return the week of January 25.
Many grades will be taught in co-horts, including high school. Flex days will also change from Fridays to Wednesdays starting in early February to allow teachers more time to plan for lessons and for deep cleaning.
Amanda Yokeley of Lewisville has three children in the school system. She was among a group of parents who gathered in front of the board of education building before Tuesday's meeting to show support for reopening schools.
“It's been almost a year. Parents need to be able to plan accordingly," she says. "It's been very frustrating as a parent and for my children."
Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools Interim Superintendent Tricia McManus says around 60 percent of students plan to return for in-person learning based on survey data. Remote learning will also continue.
McManus says she received many emails from parents and community members who wanted to wait longer to reenter classrooms based on recent COVID health metrics. They worry about having enough PPE and enough staff to support learning and safety protocols.
McManus told the school board there are more than 70 teacher vacancies right now, but they have a plan in place to recruit and train substitutes.
She says she understands the concerns felt by many people, but says the district is prepared.
“We're ready. Are we going to have no issues? No. Are we going to have no spread at all? No. But are we going to do everything in our power to make sure that our staff and students are safe – Yes,”says McManus.
School leaders expect to get more information from the state this week about COVID-19 vaccines. Five school sites across the county will serve as vaccination clinics for district employees. The health department will host and manage these sites.
Editor's note: This story has been updated from an earlier version.
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