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GCS Students to Continue Returning to Classrooms This Week


Nov. 10, 2020 More elementary school students will start in-person learning, according to a new schedule approved tonight by the Guilford County Board of Education.

The school board also approved expanding their reopening metrics to include consideration of students’ academic outcomes, social and emotional well-being, and the emerging science and data regarding school re-entry.

According to the new schedule, students in pre-kindergarten, kindergarten, first and second grades will start back this Thursday, Nov. 12, including pre-kindergarten (Pre-K) through second grade students with disabilities served in self-contained classrooms at traditional schools. Pre-K and kindergarten students will also move from a half-day to a full-day schedule starting Thursday.

The phased-in reopening for Monday, Nov. 16, includes:

  • Students served in self-contained Exceptional Children classrooms (grades 3-12);
  • Students served in public separate schools;
  • Students served in self-contained specialized programs including Building Futures, Crossroads and Mell-Burton; and,
  • Students served in Regional Behavior Support Classrooms.

Seniors enrolled in the semester-long Nursing Fundamentals with Practicum Course may also begin obtaining the 40 clinical practicum hours for eligibility to sit for the NCDHHS Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) exam in 2021. Those students should await direction from their principals.

Students in third, fourth and fifth grades will return on Tuesday, Jan. 5, while sixth grade will return to their classrooms on Thursday, Jan. 7. Seventh and eighth graders will return to schools for in-person learning on Monday, Jan. 11.

Elementary students will attend in-person five days per week, while middle school students will attend in cohorts for two days of in-person instruction with no more than 50% of the total number of students in attendance at one time. Middle school students will learn online three days per week.

High school students will return for in-person learning on Thursday, Jan. 21, since the start of second semester falls on a Wednesday (Jan. 20). Wednesdays are designated as a weekly cleaning and online learning days. High school students will also return for in-person classes two days per week, with 50% attending Mondays and Tuesdays, and 50% attending Thursdays and Fridays.

“This was an extraordinarily difficult decision to make, but one the majority of our board feels is in the best interest of the children we serve,” says Board Chair Deena Hayes. “The longer schools remain closed to students, the more we risk diminishing the learning and life outcomes for an entire generation of students. With studies around the world indicating that young children and schools are not dramatically increasing community spread, it’s time we move forward as a school district.”

At Tuesday’s meeting, board members discussed the latest county health metrics, but also considered the long-term effects of remote learning on students’ academic outcomes, social-emotional well-being and mental health.

Data released from the Center for Research on Education Outcomes shows that students could be losing as much as 183 days of learning time in reading and 232 days in math in an online learning setting.

Academic trends in GCS reveal similar patterns and concerns. According to a recent analysis of first quarter grades this fall, only 22% of students earned an A in courses in the first quarter of this year compared to 26% last year. Overall, 40% of GCS students failed at least one Q1 course compared to 29% in 2019-20.

In addition, numerous scientific studies conducted in the U.S. and worldwide indicate that children age 10 and under are at less risk of transmitting the virus to each other or to adults, and that having schools in session does not appear to increase community spread.

“Our children and their families are really struggling on multiple fronts, and when parents are feeling stressed, their children are as well,” says Superintendent Sharon Contreras. “In addition to academic learning, school personnel help students develop important relationships with their peers and with additional, caring adults who can support their overall social and emotional well-being.”

For more information on the district’s health protocols and plan to reopen schools, visit