WS/FC Schools Delays Return For Most High School Students

WS/FC Schools Delays Return For Most High School Students

8:54pm Jan 21, 2021
Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools Interim Superintendent Tricia McManus observes an elementary classroom after more students returned this month. She says district leaders will continue to monitor safety protocols and the needs in schools as reopening moves forward. KERI BROWN/WFDD

The Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Board of Education voted on Thursday night to modify its re-entry plan for high school students.

All of these grades were scheduled to return next week. After a lot of debate, a compromise motion was approved, which changes the dates for when most students would return.

On Monday, January 25, Career Technical Education students (CET) will head back to classrooms.

Ninth graders will follow on the week of February 1.

Grades tenth, eleventh, and twelfth can re-enter for face-to face learning on the week of February 22.

Interim Superintendent Tricia McManus had recommended pausing a high school return for three more weeks based on consultation with a group of scientific experts in the ABC Science Collaborative. She said it would allow more time to analyze resources with the recent addition of more grades in a short period of time. Some district leaders also expressed concerns about the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the county.

Reynolds High school principal Dr. Leslie Alexander spoke to the board during Thursday's meeting. She says she worries about not having enough staff to cover classes during teacher absences.

"I want the school board and everyone to hear that high school principals want students back," she says. "I think we have to consider the resources that we have and are they in place for us to bring everyone back successfully. Today's substitute fill rate was 67 percent. That means there were 64 jobs that were not filled."

McManus says the district will continue to focus on hiring more substitute teachers. She says there has been some turnover on the contact tracing team and that's also a priority.

“They’re completely ready in schools with hand washing, the social distancing, all of the things that they have prepared for as we’ve been out in schools we’ve seen it," she says. "But we have to do the contact tracing and case investigation with efficacy to ensure that our staff and students are safe.”

According to the district's survey data, 53% of high school students plan to return to the classroom for in-person instruction.

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.

*Follow WFDD's Keri Brown on Twitter @kerib_news

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