400 teachers tune in for Q&A session with superintendent

Published 4:00 pm Thursday, July 16, 2020

By Carl Blankenship

SALISBURY – On Thursday, Rowan-Salisbury Schools Superintendent Lynn Moody hosted a webinar to speak to county teachers about their concerns heading into the reopening of schools on Aug. 17.

About 400 teachers attended the meeting, and moderators for elementary, middle and high school picked out popular questions from the chat to pose to Moody.

Moody started the meeting by saying she would not be able to answer every question because the district does not have all the answers yet, though Gov. Roy Cooper’s decision to choose a mix of in-person and online learning was a relief because it gave some direction. Locally, Rowan-Salisbury Schools will begin with a split model. Half of students will attend classes on Monday and Tuesday, while the other half will attend on Thursday Friday, with virtual learning between. The model complies with a Tuesday decision by Gov. Roy Cooper that will require a mix of in-person and virtual learning.

During discussion, Moody noted 1,800 students have now enrolled in the district’s virtual K-8 — about 10% of the district’s student population. That would make it the largest school in the district. High school students also have the option to enroll virtually through their schools.

One question posed to Moody asked why the district is not opting for all virtual learning when the number of cases is still rising. Moody noted statements from entities like the American Academy of Pediatrics about the social and educational benefits of returning children to schools.

Moody used a student who struggles with asthma and has family affected by COVID-19 who has opted to attend virtually and another who is ready to get back into the classroom as examples of the models meeting the needs of different students. She emphasized the importance of students following the safety guidelines like wearing masks and maintaining social distancing because, while students may want to socialize in the same way as they always have, continuing to host classes in person will depend on their cooperation

“The more help and support we have from our children, the more likely we will be able to stay in school,” Moody said.

Signs will mark hallways as one way, and Moody said the district is working on getting 6-foot markers as well. One-way traffic in hallways may impact class change times. Teachers will be given face shields in addition to their masks to use as they see fit.

Moody said the district is asking for a full-year commitment to virtual school for those who have signed up. Changing to a traditional school during the year would require parents to go through the same process as if they were moving a student between traditional schools.

The virtual school is a real, separate school. It will be based out of Horizons Unlimited, and Horizons Director Amy Pruitt is the principal. The district is also hiring to staff the school and placing a priority on current employees.

Moody also said the district is working on helping school employees with childcare. At one point during the webinar, she said some of her answers are vague because the district is still working out details.

When asked about what instruction will look like, Moody outlined how teams will plan together each Wednesday. She suggested instructional days in school may be used to introduce concepts to students, who can then be given resources to help them with work for the rest of the week.

Moody thanked the teachers for their patience.

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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