Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools to start 2020-2021 school year with remote learning

Published 10:43 am Monday, July 20, 2020

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On Friday, the WS/FCS Board of Education approved its Plan C remote learning model for all students. Students in grades K-12 will start the new school year by learning virtually for the first nine weeks of school. The district has committed to re-evaluating the possibility of a return to in-person learning after the first nine weeks. The first day of school remains Aug. 17.

WS/FCS Superintendent Dr. Angela Hairston said, “I did not recommend this plan lightly. I know this decision comes with frustration for parents who struggled with virtual learning in the spring, but we need more time for this virus to subside in order to return to school safely.”

Hairston continued by saying, “Going back to school for our communities and families is still of great concern to me. Our community has one of the highest infection rates in our state. I see hard, scientific data that shows we are not through the worst of this pandemic. Our health experts say the risk of infection is still very high. Add that to an employee survey that shows us nearly 20% of our teachers say they are either fearful of or need special accommodations in order to return to the classroom. We must have their full support and endorsement if we are to reopen our schools safely.”   

Hairston went on to acknowledge that she knows this plan may not be easy for families as no plan is perfect. The delay allows time for the virus to subside, more time for schools to prepare, and extra time for teachers to build rigorous online learning to kick off the year. As the first nine weeks come to an end, the school system will reassess where infection levels are within the community and consider a transition into a modified or hybrid plan of in-person and virtual learning much like Plan B outlined.

Over the next four weeks, the district will continue its work improving online learning. Instructional leaders say there will be big differences in the new version of online learning. Teachers will be teaching. The district will be taking attendance and giving grades. There will be more training for parents, students and staff, and multiple ways to learn, and time for one-on-one conversations with teachers. What is offered will not change. Art, music, physical education, languages, CTE, AP, IB, STEM classes, and virtual field trips will be a part of the remote learning plan. The instructional team will work to make the content robust and rigorous.

Parents can expect more detailed information about Plan C to follow in the weeks ahead. Go to the Our Safe Return page on the WS/FCS website for information, FAQs and resources and a letter about this decision from Dr. Hairston.