Virtual graduation ceremonies planned for May 22

Published 12:00 am Sunday, May 10, 2020

By Carl Blankenship

SALISBURY – The Rowan-Salisbury Schools system is planning a virtual commencement ceremony for graduating seniors on May 22, according to an item on Monday’s Board of Education agenda.

The district promised to hold an in-person graduation ceremony at some point year after schools were shut down to slow the spread of COVID-19, but Monday’s agenda item comes after the district polled seniors and families for options. It is still considering an in-person ceremony once gathering restrictions allow.

Monday’s agenda does not include further details about the district’s plans, but the school board is scheduled to discuss plans during the scheduled 5 p.m. meeting, which will be held virtually.

The district is changing its summer meals program and will continue to provide meals as hit has been since schools closed via bus delivery, until at least June 30.

The staff will still wear personal protective equipment while serving children, and the students will not be able to eat in groups. The district will offer extended employment to staff that normally only work 10-month schedules during the school year to keep the program going

The board will also have some questions answered about the district’s potential partnership with Kelly Education to manage its substitute teacher program.

The school will still follow its Monday, Tuesday, Thursday daily delivery schedule, which it reduced from delivering every week day after spring break in order to reduce exposure to staff.

District subs work about 132,000 hours and the wages paid to all substitutes combined is about $1.6 million, but that figure does not include unemployment, Medicare, Social Security and Workers Compensation tax or the cost of other premiums, all of which would be absorbed by Kelly, which would also provide benefits to substitute teachers and not place limits on the hours they can work.

The district estimates a slight savings if it contracts with Kelly for an increased fill-rate of classes which need substitutes.

The board will also hear two school renewal plans for approval. Enochville and Koontz elementary schools will present their plans.

Enochville’s goals include decreasing the number of disciplinary measures it has to take and increasing the performance of its students and increasing community involvement through strategies like the social/emotional program Capturing Kids’ Hearts, universal breakfast, social and emotional groups and creating interactive play centers.

Koontz also wants to reduce discipline and increase student performance. It is another school in the district implementing Capturing Kids’ Hearts and implementing a positive behavioral intervention model. The school is also implementing strategies to increase student literacy growth, and create stronger teacher growth and retention.

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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