Board Briefing- July 28, 2020

Buncombe County Schools
BCS Board Briefing

  • The June 4, 2020 school board meeting.

    A video recording of the meeting is available on YouTube.

    At the Special Called BCS Board of Education Meeting on July 28, 2020, the Board voted to modify our Return To Learn Plan. Those details as well as Superintendent's Comments are below.

Buncombe County Schools will implement an enhanced version of Return to Learn Plan B. BCS’s Plan B Beyond is a mostly remote learning strategy for all students in grades K-12. There will be a two-week period of onboarding and orientation for students (One week for K-8; Two Weeks for 9-12). Beginning in week three (August 31), all students K-12 will be remote learners until September 28. During this six week period, in consultation with local health professionals, we will make a decision regarding the remainder of our schedule this semester.

“I appreciate our Board of Education and their commitment to communicate and collaborate with our local public health officials throughout this entire period of planning and decision making,” said Dr. Tony Baldwin, BCS Superintendent. “Through this effort, they have maintained a significant priority on the health and safety of our students and staff. We are moving to Plan B Beyond in order to continue to serve our students while keeping our staff and families as safe as possible.”

Other important details are as follows:

--Students in grades K-8 will have their onboarding week August 17-20.

--Students in grades 9-13 will have their onboarding for two weeks from August 17-27. This extra time is needed to ensure proper social distancing can be maintained while students are in the building.

--These school days will begin at 8 a.m. for grades K-8 and 9 a.m. for 9-12, and all schools will operate on a two-hour early dismissal each day.

--Schools will follow up with families regarding bus transportation and specific scheduling on these days.

--Friday 8/21 and Friday 8/28 will be Remote Learning Days for ALL students.

--If parents would prefer to have their child complete their onboarding at home in a virtual setting, simply reach out to your school’s principal to let them know.

--Our teachers will report to their classrooms in their school building in order to facilitate instruction during the onboarding week and when students transition to remote learning.

The YMCA of Western North Carolina has committed to enhancing their childcare options in order to serve more BCS families. In addition to its onsite afterschool programs, the Y will offer full-day care at the YMCA Youth Services Center at Beaverdam and the Reuter Family YMCA during plan B weeks. During Plan C the Y will operate “School’s Out” locations in the Roberson, Reynolds, Enka, and North Buncombe districts for Buncombe County Schools. Please call the YMCA at 828-251-5910 to register.

“Our full-day programs will complement and enrich your child’s learning experience,” says Melissa Wiedeman, VP of Operations, YMCA K-12 Childcare. “Our qualified and caring staff will work closely with students to support their academic goals and to ensure that they complete their virtual classwork daily. Rest assured that we will also continue to operate with thorough health safeguards to keep your child and our staff safe.”

Other Important Details:

--Our School Nutrition Department will serve breakfast and lunch daily throughout our six districts. We will follow up with more details soon.

--Face coverings will be required for ALL students and staff while on campus during our onboarding weeks. Masks will be provided to students or staff who need one.

--Families who have internet challenges may reach out to their school to request a mobile internet hotspot.

--Any student who may need extra school support will have opportunities for some in-person lessons in September, with consideration for social distancing, face coverings, and good hand hygiene.

--Many Remote Learning details have been finalized recently. Please read our Remote Learning FAQ for more important updates.

“As I have said many times before, the single most consistent and constant factor associated with COVID-19 has been CHANGE in capital letters,” said Superintendent Baldwin. “Unpredictability has also come to be representative of this current crisis we all are under. A few weeks during the time of COVID19 can feel like an eternity. While we can’t predict what the pandemic will do, I want our parents and staff to know that the difficult decisions we’ve all made in the past few weeks have always kept student safety as our central goal and priority.”

Please visit ReturntoLearn.BuncombeSchools.org for more information and specifics about Remote Learning in Buncombe County Schools.

We have revised our 2020-21 Academic Calendar.

We have released a Face Covering Policy for the school year. 


    SUPERINTENDENT'S COMMENTS

    I want to begin by noting that the single most consistent and constant factor associated with COVID-19 has been CHANGE in capital letters! We are bringing to you this morning a revised plan of re-entry from what was brought to you earlier on June 30.

    The recommended plan that we bring to you this morning encompasses the first 6 weeks of the school year. Before that plan is presented, I want to take a brief moment to thank you for your commitment to communicate and collaborate with our local public health officials throughout this entire period of planning and decision making. Through this effort you have maintained a significant priority on the health and safety of our students and staff. We are all extremely proud of the fact that you, the Board, mandated the wearing of face coverings for all K-12 students, staff, and visitors in our building – two weeks prior to Governor Cooper’s state-wide mandate.

    As you are aware, on June 14, the governor declared that Plan B would be the chosen plan for re-entry into the 2020-2021 school year across North Carolina. Each local school board however was given the right to determine a more restrictive plan for their particular school system to operate under. In this case, that option would be Plan C.

    Our recommendation to you today has elements of both plans.

    First, 40 percent of our total number of students across the district will begin the school year on August 17 receiving remote instruction through our teaching staff. They will be receiving remote instruction ONLY….AT LEAST through the end of the first semester.

    For the 60 percent of students who did not choose the remote only option, this is what their first six weeks would look like:

    For those students in Kindergarten through eighth grade, they will be divided into two groups – either A or B and for the first four days beginning August 17, will alternate days in the school buildings to meet with their teachers beginning at 8 in the morning and ending on a two-hour early dismissal.

    For example, Group A would be physically in school on Monday / Wednesday and remote on Tuesday / Thursday. In contrast, Group B would physically be in school on Tuesday / Thursday and remote on Monday / Wednesday. Friday, August 21st would be a remote day for everyone and allow teacher planning.  We believe that this Plan B Beyond would allow our students and teachers to establish a more solid foundation for future learning and instruction especially relevant to the remote learning component. It also allows for our technology department to address specific laptop issues and exchanges or distributions.

    Beginning August 24 and extending into a four-week span, these K-8 students will be provided remote learning instruction by their teacher. Prior to Monday, September 28, we will come back to the board with further recommendations based on consultation with our local public health experts and local COVID-19 metrics and data on the next segment of weeks.

    As I noted earlier, change and unpredictability represent this current crisis we all are under. Two to three weeks of the COVID-19 impact can be an eternity! On September 28 we could easily find ourselves continuing in an all remote instructional model or could potentially return to a schedule similar to how we began.

    For those High School students not opting for remote only, they too will be divided into two groups – A and B and alternate days in and out of the building, Monday through Thursday.  Fridays would be remote learning for both groups. The primary difference is that our high school students will follow this pattern over the first two weeks.

    Why the difference? Two reasons. First, because the schedule of a high school student represents four courses or classes each semester – each with a different teacher and subject area. Second, the multiple changing of classes creates significant commingling of students all across the campus. In order to allow each student to meet their individual teachers, it will take a total of four days to accomplish that. For example, beginning August 17, Group A students will meet with their first period teacher. The next day, Group A would remain home and receive remote instruction. On their return to school Wednesday, they will remain in their second period classroom. This pattern would continue the second week allowing Group A to connect with their third and fourth period teachers.

    Similar to the K-8 model, the weeks would be Monday through Thursday beginning in the morning at 9 and ending on a two-hour early dismissal. Likewise, prior to Monday, September 28, we will come back to the board with recommendations based on consultation with our local public health experts and a review of local COVID-19 metrics and data on what the next segment of weeks would look like.

    As we recommend a majority of our instructional model to be remote learning over this six-week span there is clearly a concern regarding the highly vulnerable population of students that may be disproportionately disadvantaged by the reduction in direct support that can be provided through remote learning. To that concern, we ask the board allowance to have the discretion to provide in-person supplemental instruction or support in small sections of multiple students or on an individual basis. In all cases the requirements and guidelines that accompany occupancy within the building and on campus will be followed.

    In closing, I would note a considerable disparity in the re-entry plans by fellow school systems across the state that have been finalized and approved. For your information, the 6 Week Re-Entry plan that we have submitted – Plan B Beyond is most similar to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools model which they have labeled as B Plus. 


    Dr. Tony Baldwin
    Superintendent

    Ann B. Franklin
    Madam Chair

    Stacia M. Harris
    Director of Communications

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    175 Bingham Road, Asheville NC 28806
    (828) 350-2261



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