North Carolina schools closed – what to do

Gov. Roy Cooper announced Friday that North Carolina’s public schools will remain closed for the rest of the school year as part of an effort to slow the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

Cooper is extending his order that had previously kept schools closed through May 15, making the decision after consulting with public health and education officials.

Q: HOW WILL STUDENTS FINISH THE SCHOOL YEAR?

A: North Carolina’s 1.5 million public school students will finish the school year by taking classes virtually, which means online. Schools set up remote learning programs after Cooper first ordered school buildings be closed on March 14.

Q: WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR THIS YEAR’S GRADES?

A: The State Board of Education on Thursday adopted a statewide grading policy in which only high school students will have the option of getting traditional grades this semester. Elementary school students won’t get grades and middle school students will only get grades saying whether they passed or withdrew from a class.

Q: WILL TEACHERS CONTINUE TO GET PAID DURING THE CLOSURE?

A: Teachers will continue to be paid as long as they do remote learning.

Q: MY KID IS STILL WAITING FOR A COMPUTER FOR REMOTE LEARNING. WHEN WILL THOSE ISSUES BE RESOLVED?

A: Computer access is up to individual school districts. Contact your school district for details.

Q: WHAT ABOUT HOT SPOTS FOR INTERNET ACCESS?

A: Gov. Cooper announced a partnership with AT&T that will provide 100 hotspots for use in school buses to help students without home internet access. The state also has a partnership with Duke Energy Foundation, which has agreed to provide 80 school bus hotspots.

Q: WHEN WAS THE SCHOOL YEAR SUPPOSED TO END?

A: This school year for most students was scheduled to end around June 11.

Q: WHEN WILL PUBLIC SCHOOLS REOPEN?

A: That is unclear. Most schools are scheduled to reopen in late August, although a number of year-round schools are supposed to begin the next school year in early July. A draft bill backed by a state House committee calls for temporarily waiving the school calendar law to allow traditional-calendar schools to begin as early as Aug. 17.

Q: WHEN SCHOOLS REOPEN, WILL STUDENTS HAVE TO PRACTICE SOCIAL DISTANCING?

A: It’s unclear what changes can and will be made to promote social distancing. School officials have said that it would be extremely difficult to keep people six feet apart riding school buses, in classrooms and cafeterias, and while changing classes.

Q: IS NORTH CAROLINA THE ONLY STATE THAT HAS CLOSED SCHOOLS?

A: No. North Carolina joins 41 other states, three U.S. territories and the District of Columbia that have ordered or recommended that school buildings be closed for the rest of the academic year, according to Education Week. The closures are affecting around 43 million students nationwide.

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