Stanly school board adjust schedule for fifth-graders

Fifth graders in Stanly County School will have a new schedule starting possibly as soon as Oct. 5.

At a specially called meeting of the county’s Board of Education Monday night, the board unanimously approved a change for fifth graders to have face-to-face learning Monday through Thursday every week with virtual learning Fridays. The fifth graders will remain at the middle school buildings for their classes.

The motion was an amendment to the plan passed by the school board Sept. 15 moving middle and high schoolers to a schedule of the A group going in person Monday and Tuesday and the B group Wednesday and Thursday with remote learning Fridays. High schools will also be going from three groups (A, B and C) to two.

Five variations of the plan approved the previous Tuesday were presented to the board on the heels of Gov. Roy Cooper’s announcement Sept. 17 allowing schools to go to all in-person learning. School systems will continue to have the option to implement a hybrid system like Stanly, go completely remote or do all in-person learning.

The variations included different options to have the Friday remote learning day or remove it along with a fifth option to move fifth-grade students back to their elementary schools.

Students may be also allowed to have more mobility per the state order, according to Assistant Superintendent Dr. Amy Blake-Lewis. She said teachers would also not have to rotate to multiple classrooms.

Blake-Lewis said with the remote day in place, some schools would have to adjust their schedules for AMP (arts, music and P.E.) instruction. Some of the larger schools would have to go from three days a week to two.

Another possible change would be for kindergarten and first-grade students to have their lunches in the cafeteria due to some teacher feedback of students spilling food and milk in the classrooms.

Chairman Melvin Poole said he believed any changes made by the school board could change in the next few weeks the closer Election Day gets. He said before the board makes a decision on the variations presented he would like to know how many more people would want face-to-face learning.

Interim Superintendent Vicki Calvert said a survey was sent to fifth-grade teachers along with elementary and middle school principals asking about moving fifth-graders back to elementary school. She said 23 responses were against moving the fifth graders, with 11 undecided and six in favor.

SCS will also send out surveys to parents asking if they will be sending their children back for face-to-face learning.

Before the board chose to do learning Monday through Thursday for fifth graders, Board member Patty Crump asked if the middle schools had the room for the additional fifth graders. Calvert said they did.

Board member Anthony Graves asked about the increase in time in bus routes with the additional children. Blake-Lewis said the routes would increase by the number of stops but not the route itself. The routes run by houses with remote learners, she added.

With masks still in place for students, Poole said SCS “may not get as many back (in person) as we think.”

Graves asked about all students eating in the cafeterias, which Blake-Lewis said may not be possible with the smaller size of some of the cafeteria spaces in the schools.

The board discussed the variations of the hybrid plan but agreed to wait until the surveys come back to see how many students will be coming back to make a decision at the October meeting.