CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Parents, teachers and students across our area are gearing up for the new school year, but many parents still have questions about what that will look like amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Gov. Roy Cooper announced guidelines Tuesday that will allow North Carolina K-12 public schools to reopen at reduced in-classroom capacity but give parents and school districts the choice to have classes entirely online.
>> What questions do you have about CMS’ reopening plan? Head over to our Facebook page, submit your questions under the post and we will answer as many as we can.
The next day, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools voted to adopt their Plan B+ remote plan.
Under CMS’ plan, students will head back to the classroom on Aug. 17, but only for a limited time. CMS will break students into three groups. Those groups will have a few days of in-person instruction during the first two weeks of school and from there, all learning will be conducted remotely for an indefinite period of time.
- Group A would go to school Monday through Wednesday of the first week
- Group B would go to school Thursday and Friday of the first week and then Monday and Tuesday of the second week
- Group C would go to school Wednesday through Friday of the second week
- Starting on week 3, all students will learn remotely indefinitely
Parents can also opt for a full-time remote learning academy if they don’t want to send their kids back at all.
Since the announcements, parents have expressed concern, confusion and frustration about their child’s safety as well as childcare, meals and their children’s quality of education.
Channel 9 is committed to finding the answers to your questions as you prepare for the upcoming school year. Below are some frequently asked questions from parents. Education reporter Elsa Gillis pushed for the answers from CMS leaders.
Q: During the first two week period what exactly is going to be the schedule? What are kids expected to do? How many days are they expected to show up and what would that involve? -Mike
A: CMS is going to break students into three groups.
During the first two weeks of school:
- Group A would go to school Monday through Wednesday
- Group B would go to school Thursday and Friday and Monday and Tuesday of Week 2
- Group C would go to school Wednesday through Friday of Week 2
- Starting Week 3, all students will learn remotely indefinitely
While in-person, students will be meeting their teachers and getting all the equipment they need to learn remotely.
“This two weeks is to be able to make sure that everybody has their equipment in hand, it all works, you understand how it works, your mamma understands how it works, your sisters and brothers, whoever is helping you, understands how to help you,” said CMS board Vice Chairperson Thelma Byers-Bailey.
Q: As a parent, I’d like to know what steps were taken from the past four months to develop a really robust online learning program? -Francine
A: The plan parents saw in the spring came together overnight, since then all districts were tasked with creating better plans. A CMS official told Gillis most parents will instantly recognize differences because there is more interaction and more instruction.
“We learned from the mistakes we made in the spring and that’s what’s motivated us and prepared us to make a better remote plan this time,” Byers-Bailey said. ”We’ve had experts working on this all summer and they’re continuing to work.”
Q: What do you do if kids don’t have computers or internet? - Jean
A: Students will get all the equipment they need to effectively participate in remote learning during the first two weeks of school. Byers-Bailey told Gillis that the two weeks is important to get all kids on the same page at the start of the year and connected with computers and internet access.
Q: Is there a preview online? I’m just wondering if they could provide a link to a preview of what the remote learning will look like because at the end of the last semester it was good, but it was still being worked out so we’d like to see if it’s better now.
A: Yes, CMS did put out a sample elementary lesson in English and Spanish. While it’s just for one age group, district officials said it provides insight into the work that’s been done on remote learning.
>>Watch the sample lesson below
Q: What is CMS doing to protect children that don’t feel safe at home?
A: Byers-Bailey told Gillis that CMS has partnered with the Department of Social Services to set up a system where if a child hasn’t been seen or if a child isn’t responding, then someone will go to the child’s home and knock the door.
Q: Who’s going to babysit these kids while they are learning from home? -John
A: Byers-Bailey told Gillis that CMS is reaching out to its partners at the YMCA and the YWCA. She said all of the partners have wrapped their arms around CMS and are volunteering to step up to take a group of kids who can’t do remote at home.
If you have questions, concerns or comments about the CMS learning plan this fall, you can call the district’s call center at 980-343-3001.
Can’t stay home with your children while they learn remotely because you have to go to work?
It’s a tough situation that many of us will find ourselves in this fall.
Channel 9′s Susanna Black spoke with a social worker who said start planning now and never be afraid to ask for help.
Deshawna Christian works full-time as a supervisor with Cabarrus County Human Services and is also a full-time mom.
Her son will only attend school in-person one day a wee and the other four, he’ll learn virtually at home -- some of the time while Christian is at work.
“These kids are 9 and 10 years old to where they are not responsible enough to be home by themselves,” she said.
As a social worker on the front lines of making sure families are taken care of, Christian said she knows there is help for parents scrambling to find childcare for school-aged kids.
“That’s what we’re here for, we are public servants. We know in any crisis our work is going to increase and we’re ready for that and prepared for that,” Christian said.
She said planning and communication are key.
First, reach out to your support system and ask family or friends if they can jump in and help while you work.
If that’s not an option, she said to call your county.
>> Have questions about the coronavirus pandemic and its impact on the Carolinas? We have an entire section dedicated to coverage of the outbreak -- CLICK HERE FOR MORE.
Leaders are working to expand childcare resources by providing state-backed relief funding to daycares thinking outside the box to include school-aged children in their facilities that might normally only cater to kids under 5 years old.
“We have to work with each other to think about those unique things families are going to need,” she said.
While Christian is in Cabarrus County, she said it doesn’t matter where you live. If you need childcare help, call your local department of human services. They are there to help.