A Statement From Our Superintendent
Governor Roy Cooper announced that K-12 public schools will remain closed to normal operations and in-person instruction for the remainder of the school year due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. This is in no way to suggest that school is over for the year. During the period that school facilities are closed, we will continue to develop and deliver innovative opportunities for students to learn and grow in the context of the current situation. Students and families will continue to be provided with resources, both digitally and printed. We are working very hard to mitigate lost learning to the greatest extent possible by focusing on foundational concepts—the concepts that are most important for students to understand to progress to future grades. Our school system has a dedicated workforce that continues to provide hope, engagement, a sense of routine, a measure of normalcy, and most importantly connectedness for the students we serve.
We must now move ahead with a sense of urgency and thoughtfulness and prepare for the challenges of long-term school closures. This includes addressing and correcting learning gaps resulting from COVID-19. In preparation for the 2020-2021 school year, teachers and school staff will work to identify every child’s learning level and implement a plan to ensure every child is ready to build on that learning level. Work is underway to make sure our most vulnerable student populations are able to participate in their schooling in a meaningful way. Additionally, a thorough and extensive plan, focused on equity and accessibility, will be developed to ensure schools are able to continue providing support and critical services to students. Improvements to education delivery methods, increased monitoring of student participation, and, most importantly, communication systems to keep families and schools connected and engaged will lead to advances in student learning.
While COVID-19 is impacting every aspect of life, our teachers, administrators, school board members and school staff are going to extraordinary levels to provide educational continuity, nutrition services, and even emotional support and counseling services through remote learning opportunities and teleservices. Our students are finishing the school year amid extraordinary circumstances. The strength, perseverance and determination our students, and soon-to-be graduates, are displaying on a daily basis is amazing.
As our seniors enter their final stretch, it is critical that we recognize the achievements of our graduates and allow them to share their celebration with classmates, family and friends. The graduating Class of 2020 deserves the best graduation experience possible, even if it looks different from what we’ve had in the past. We are planning to recognize and celebrate our 2020 graduates during virtual events at the end of May. High school principals are actively planning for the upcoming virtual graduation and will be communicating those plans with stakeholders in the next few days. A Blackboard Connect message will be sent to our seniors on Thursday, April 30 with more details. Please know that we are committed to holding more traditional in-person ceremonies once the coronavirus outbreak subsides and health officials say it is safe to do so.
Many familiar systems and supports in our society have been upended and our schools are providing deeply necessary connections, reliable services, and are — in fact — holding the fabric of our communities together. In the coming days and weeks, we will work to answer as many questions as we can and continue communicating specific details with our families to keep them informed throughout this process.