Channel 9 speaks with CMS superintendent about state of schools

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — What will next school year look like? That is the $64,000 question,” CMS Superintendent Earnest Winston said.

When it comes to what next school year will look like, Winston said they don’t have concrete answers at this point, but they’re working toward solutions.

“I think setting the expectation for our students, for our families, that we will more than likely be social distancing, we’ll have to potentially consider students going to schools in shifts, to accommodate the safety measures,” he said.

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That was similar to what the state Superintendent shared with Channel 9.

With an eye on what's next, there's still much focus on this school year and seniors, who deserve a celebratory graduation.

"CMS has not canceled graduation yet but we do believe that it's important for us to come up with options if that were to happen," Dr. Matt Hayes, the Deputy Superintendent of Academics, said.

A graduation task force has been formed, with students included, and all seniors should be getting a survey, to provide input.

"We’ve had a lot of phenomenal options come forward anything from graduation looking at doing homerooms in high schools, all the way to football fields, panthers stadium, complete virtual and then coming back around end of summer maybe middle of next year and doing sort of a gathering with seniors," said Dr. Hayes. "A lot of options right now."

But safety and state guidelines will guide what can happen.

On the topic of grades, Superintendent Winston said the intent of the grading policy that came from state officials was to do no harm to students.

"We're giving students every opportunity to excel and bring their grades up," he said. "We want to be cognizant of all the needs that exist across the district."

Whether students are getting a grade or not (based on the policy) teachers are keeping track of student progress and contact. High schoolers have until about June 1st to decide whether they want pass/withdrawal or a numeric grade.

Along with the contact log, officials said student services are following-up when there’s not consistency in communication or completing work. The Superintendent said they’ve yet to make contact with 3,000 of their 148,000 students. There are many reasons the district may not have heard from families, but student services staff are starting to make home visits to those they’ve not heard from, from a safe social distance, to see what’s going on.

On the technology side of things -- the district has made great progress getting computers and hotspots to students. Over 90,000 have been given to grades 4 through 12 and they have more available if families need them. And so far, the district says it has also provided over one million meals.

“It’s something that were very conscious and aware of this issue around equity we know we have a great deal of disproportionally in this community and whenever we have a crisis to deepens that even more,” Superintendent Winston said. “We want to make sure that we’re reaching out to all of our students and make learning opportunity engaging and available for everyone.”

>>We know parents out there have a lot of concerns regarding school next year. Channel 9′s education reporter Elsa Gillis is pushing CMS for answers and will bring you a LIVE update, on Eyewitness News at 5.