UPDATE 2-24-21 TO ORIGINAL STORY:
COURTESY OF VANCE COUNTY SCHOOLS – As we continue preparing for our return to face-to-face interactions with students, Vance County Schools is working diligently to ensure we are providing all of the necessary safety protocols for the health and wellness of our everyone, prior to student re-entry.
On Friday, March 5, all Vance County Schools staff will have the opportunity to receive the COVID-19 vaccination. Due to the vaccination schedule, VCS will delay the re-entry of students to the week of Monday, March 8. The only change to the re-entry is that students in Pre-K, Kindergarten, and 1st grade, as well as all self-contained students will begin their re-entry the week of Monday, March 8 rather than March 4 and 5.
Thursday, March 4 will be a remote learning day as scheduled for all grades, with students logging in at their assigned times. Friday, March 5 will be an asynchronous learning day for all grades, allowing students to complete assignments in their online learning platform throughout the day.
We are grateful for this added layer of protection being afforded to our district and appreciate your understanding as we work to finish the 2020-2021 school year strong!
ORIGINAL STORY BELOW. PLEASE REFER TO UPDATED STORY ABOVE FOR THE LATEST INFORMATION.
In just over a week, Vance County schools will once again have students in the building for face-to-face instruction, but adjusting to the “new normal” means some changes are in store for students and staff alike, according to Superintendent Dr. Anthony Jackson.
Jackson spoke with Town Talk host John C. Rose about the staggered re-entry of students, which begins March 4. Below is the schedule for students to return:
“If you look at it, we’re going very cautiously, so we can assess where we are, make adjustments and do what we need to do…to make sure we’re successful. If it can be done, it can be done here in Vance County,” he added. “We’ve been very cautious and we’re going to have a very orderly return to school.
Students will come to school two days a week – either Monday/Tuesday or Thursday/Friday, according to Aarika Sandlin, public information officer for the school district. There remains an option for students to continue to participate in remote learning only, she said. Families should receive more information from their children’s schools this week.
Audio of Dr. Jackson on TownTalk. Script continues below.
Jackson said an announcement is forthcoming on a vaccination schedule for teachers. There is a “high degree of angst,” among teachers, he said. “They shouldn’t have to choose between their health and doing what’s right for kids,” he said. In addition, a full-time testing site opened Monday at the Administrative Services Building on Graham Avenue. It is available for staff, students and the community. Testing is free and results will be available in 24 hours, he said.
“Anyone who believes they have been exposed, before they even go to the school,” can get tested, he said.
The district has implemented stringent protocols, he said, from daily temperature stations and misting machines that sanitize whole classrooms daily, along with the required mask-wearing and social distancing, all of which contribute to the protocol. Students will eat meals in their classrooms instead of the cafeteria, he said, and hopefully outdoors when conditions are right.
“We feel really good about the rings of support that we have placed around getting our students back into the classroom,” Jackson said.
Students may spend part of the summer in classrooms as well, he said. Plans for a 6-week session during the summer are still in the works, he noted. He said he expects there to be some sort of summer session for “intervention or extension” for students.
“I don’t want to call it learning loss,” Jackson explained. “I think the only thing our kids have lost is time,” because of the pandemic. He said he chooses to look at a summer session as a way to give students more time to learn. They missed learning because of the pandemic, not because they didn’t understand.
“We’re going to have to learn how to operate in a new normal,” Jackson said. “What this has taught us is that we can do this and we can do it well, but we have to be very intentional and we have to be willing to make the shifts when necessary,” he added.
Jackson said he has a great team, both within the school system and in the larger community, who have worked together throughout the pandemic. “We know that if we’re going to beat this, we’re going to beat it together. We’re better, stronger and wiser together,” Jackson said.