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Stanly school board chooses virtual learning day at all levels

At Tuesday’s meeting of the Stanly County Board of Education, the board decided to give teachers one day every week to teach students at all grade levels remotely.

The School Board made a change in the schedule for its middle and high schools after receiving input from teachers at a specially called meeting Tuesday night, choosing Friday as a remote learning day.

Changes to the schedule will not be made immediately while SCS staff works out details, but board members asked staff to move “as expeditiously as possible.”

Initially, the board approved 7-0 a motion to make Wednesday the day middle and high school students would all attend school virtually, changing the schedules to allow each student two days each week in class. The motion also allowed for the buses to deliver meals to drive-thru locations across the county with staff authorized to assist those efforts.

However, the motion was later amended as Patty Crump made the motion later in the meeting to move the virtual day to Friday, seconded by Jeff Chance, along with the same bus provisions. The motion passed 6-0.

Chairman Melvin Poole, who passed the gavel to Vice Chairman Ryan McIntyre, made a motion to have staff examine an amendment to Plan B to allow early release each Friday for elementary schools. The motion was seconded but was defeated. Poole then left the meeting.

The board also passed 6-0 a similar measure for elementary school students, who will now go to school Monday through Thursday and have remote learning Friday.

The schedule for middle and high schools will now have students in Group A going to school Monday and Tuesday with Group B students Wednesday and Thursday. All of the students will attend class remotely on Friday.

Members of the SCS staff and the school board heard numerous comments from teachers at various levels before making the changes.

Teachers participated in a virtual meeting with the school board at the SCS offices.

One of the suggestions many of the teachers had was to change the schedules of elementary and middle school plans. Teacher after teacher speaking to the board asked for the schedule to change because of not having enough planning time to prepare both online and face-to-face lessons.

Many of the teachers talked of spending many nights and weekends preparing work for school and losing time with their children and families.

“You are killing teachers,” said Krista Turner, an award-winning PE teacher known to children and staff at Central Elementary as “Miss Sunshine.”

“Teachers are meant to teach in front of children. We are not meant to be behind a monitor or a screen delegating assignments through a Canvas program,” said Ginger Burris, a teacher from Richfield. Burris added students at home do not have any accountability.

Endy’s Julie Griffth brought up the idea of using Google Classroom rather than Canvas. She added full-time assistants should be provided in the kindergarten and first-grade classrooms.

Accountability for remote students was a topic mentioned many times by teachers. Melissa Bell, who is teaching East Albemarle and Central fifth-grade students at Albemarle Middle, said kids are not doing the work.

“This was not the year to pull out a new initiative,” Bell said about the standard-based grading system which issues grades based on proficiency of skills instead of the traditional grading system.

Kim Widenhouse, who has worked seven years at Albemarle High School, got an audible reaction from staff and board members when she reported more than 50 percent of students at the school are failing classes.

Meredith Howell, a 16-year AP English teacher at South Stanly High School, said 40 percent of her students are also failing, and many of the seniors taking her English IV class need it to graduate.

Tina Carter, who was last year’s SCS Teacher of the Year, said she has started doubting her abilities as a teacher with how the year has started. She also shared input from her students who said they feel overwhelmed taking classes on Canvas which are all in different formats.

About Charles Curcio

Charles Curcio was the sports editor of the Stanly News & Press from 1999-2001 and has currently served in the same capacity since 2008. He was awarded the NCHSAA Tim Stevens Media Representative of the Year and named CNHI Sports Editor of the Year in 2014. He has also been honored twice by the North Carolina Press Association.

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