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Kannapolis City Schools will have two days of in-person classes each week

By Carl Blankenship
carl.blankenship@salisburypost.com

KANNAPOLIS — The city’s school system will bring students to classrooms two days a week this fall, according to a model adopted Friday. 

The Kannapolis City Schools Board of Education unanimously approved a plan recommended by Superintendent Chip Buckwell. Students will return to class on Aug. 17, which is a common start date for public schools throughout the state.

Students will attend classes in-person two days a week in two groups and learn remotely for the remaining three. Group A will be in classrooms Monday and Tuesday, while group B will attend Wednesday and Thursday. Buckwell said Friday will be all-virtual and that school facilities will undergo deep cleaning in preparation for students to return on Monday. Rowan-Salisbury Schools will follow a similar model, but the week will be divided by an all-virtual day each Wednesday.

Buckwell acknowledged there will continue to be new COVID-19 infections within the community, but he noted concerns about the quality of education students receive outside of school and that there are declining reports of child neglect and abuse. The declining reports, he said, are not due to decreases in incidents of neglect and abuse. Rather, many cases are identified by professionals in schools. Buckwell noted comments published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well about the importance schools play providing services and even ensuring students stay physically active.

KCS students will also have the option to attend virtually, and the district is only asking for a nine-week commitment to virtual learning. Buckwell said KCS does not want to create a separate virtual school because it wants to build relationships between virtual students and teachers similar to a traditional setting.

“We think that the relationships teachers build with students are so important,” Buckwell said. “We hope those relationships are built in the virtual setting so they can transition to face-to-face.”

Attendance will be taken for virtual classrooms, and virtual work will all be graded as well. Buckwell said the district intends to treat virtual learning like in-person instruction when Gov. Roy Cooper ordered schools to close in March, but state mandates about grades interfered.

“This is real teaching and learning,” Buckwell said.

Buckwell acknowledged the situation could change, requiring the district to reopen schools entirely or move to virtual learning only in the coming weeks.

Students will eat at schools while they are there in person, but on virtual days they will be able to pick up meals from their schools. If siblings in one family attend different schools, they will be allowed to pick up meals for their brothers or sisters. Virtual students will be able to pick up meals every weekday.

Buckwell said the district has enough hand sanitizer for the entire year. It will be placed throughout schools. Students will have their temperatures checked before they enter buildings.

Staff and students will be required to wear face masks and maintain social distancing. The changes could pose some challenges for music classes such as chorus and band. Buckwell commented on the creativity of faculty who will try to make music classes work whether that involves using outdoor classrooms or remote learning.

KCS Board Chair Todd Adams, a teacher, said he never thought his own kids would be excited about wanting to go back to school. Since he has been on the board, Adams said, he sees how much more schools do for students beyond teaching them.

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