RSS board receives updates about district’s coronavirus plans

Published 8:23 pm Monday, March 16, 2020

By Carl Blankenship
carl.blankenship@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY – As the district was preparing students for learning during a state-mandated closure, the Rowan-Salisbury School Board met Monday afternoon to talk details of coronavirus plans.

There were no actions taken at the meeting but critical district personnel were on hand to update the board about measures being taken during the closure and answer questions. Everyone in the room was deliberately spaced out in accordance with public health recommendations to reduce close contact.

Superintendent Lynn Moody described the process that took place during the weekend. District leadership workshopped plans for hours until coming to final decisions.

“We are in a different place than every other school district that I know of,” Moody said.

Students in grades 3-12 each have a device, either a tablet or a laptop, to take home with them as the district moves toward online learning for at least the next two weeks. The district also has distributed iPads to K-2 students, who normally only use them in classrooms. Those iPads normally charge in docking stations in classrooms, but Apple sent chargers free-of-charge to fill that gap for students.

Moody said K-2 students whose parents were not with them to pick up iPads either at schools or when materials were delivered via buses would not be able to receive them for two weeks. Though, if the closure goes on longer, the district will create a plan to get tablets to students who did not receive them.

The district conducted a survey last week to determine how many students have internet access. Of respondents, more than 10,000 or about 90%, had internet access. High school students have mobile hotspots to help them connect to the internet, and some of those students have younger students in the household.

There also are now public Wi-Fi networks outside of schools that can be accessed by students who need to turn in assignments.

Meals will be delivered to students who need them via buses on normal routes or can be picked up meals in car rider lines at schools.

Every district employee working will be paid, and the district has the ability to pay them until the end of the year, unless they take leave per normal procedure.

Employees will be working, too, during the closure. Employees who may not have a full schedule of normal duties will be given additional work to perform or enroll in professional development courses during the closure.

Board members Susan Cox, Josh Wagner and Travis Allen each had questions directed at ensuring employees will be paid.

“A large percentage of our folks will be working from home, but you shouldn’t know it,” Moody said, adding teachers and staff will be working normal hours.

Moody said the district is paying attention to staff that is medically fragile and more than 65 years old, noting a lot of bus drivers are past that age and retired. Moody said administrators will work with someone who does not want to drive into the community; those folks will be given other tasks.

“Everybody will be working that wants to work, and everybody will be paid their normal pay,” Moody said.

 

About Carl Blankenship

Carl Blankenship has covered education for the Post since December 2019. Before coming to Salisbury he was a staff writer for The Avery Journal-Times in Newland and graduated from Appalachian State University in 2017, where he was editor of The Appalachian.

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