Rowan-Salisbury Schools will have teacher workdays on Wednesdays for rest of year

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 1, 2020

By Carl Blankenship

SALISBURY – The Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education’s Monday meeting was dominated by discussion and updates about the district’s handling of closure’s due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The board approved a change to teaching while students are at home that turns every Wednesday after spring break into something like a teacher workday. Teachers will have time to plan and give feedback and students can catch up on assignments. The change will affect the school year’s last five Wednesdays, but the district will still be able to meet the state’s mandated 1,025 instructional hours with 22.6 to spare.

The district has made some changes to operations at the facilities during the closure as well. Normally, dumpsters would be emptied daily, but they are now being emptied weekly because of the lack of people at the facilities. The heating and air conditioning at the facilities has been reduced as well.

Assistant Superintendent of Operations Anthony Vann said maintenance and capital projects underway for the district are continuing

The district is now serving about 25,000 meals a day (breakfast and lunch) through yellow school buses and car rider pick-up lines.

“I can’t tell you how proud we are of all those people,” Superintendent Lynn Moody said of staff still working on bus routes or inside facilities.

Students officially began e-learning from home March 19, and the district staged a roll out of devices to K-2 students who normally only use them in classrooms. Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction Julie Morrow said the district has still not been able to reach a small number of students, noting a combination of people who have not been able to receive devices or have not turned in work.

Morrow said she does not have a percentage of students not involved in e-learning yet, but that data is being gathered for the state.

The district’s technology help desk has handled more than 1,200 calls so far and issued 75 devices to staff who did not previously have them. It has also distributed an additional 300 mobile hot spots for high school students.

Morrow said teachers are being told to instruct the “whole child” by providing social and emotional support. She added that the district is providing resources and activities to families to help guide them through the closure.

RSS began planning for e-learning from home before the district Gov. Roy Cooper ordered the state-wide public school closure on March 14.

“We’ve done some amazing work,” Morrow said. “Actually, we are very proud to say we are leading the state right now.”

There have been no changes to the district’s funding, and RSS is continuing to pay all employees for normal hours.

The district is providing professional development as alternative work assignments for staff who are not able to perform their normal duties during the closure.

The school board meeting on Monday was its first-ever digital meeting, using the teleconferencing software Zoom. The public can download the free software to tune in to upcoming meetings.

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.

email author More by Carl