All Davie elementary students getting more days in classroom

Published 11:26 am Tuesday, October 20, 2020

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Davie County elementary school students will all begin going to school for four days a week on Monday.

Before, only kindergarten through second grade students went four days a week.

Wednesday will remain a remote learning day for all students. It allows for a more thorough cleaning of facilities, teachers more time to train and work with remote students, and saves money because many hourly workers are getting their time in with extra duties on the days students are in school.

Middle and high school students will remain on their current, two day a week in class routine.

“With the information that we have, and knowing that children need to be in school … staff has planned to transition to Plan A,” said Superintendent Jeff Wallace.

Jennifer Lynde, chief academic officer, explained the Wedensdays off further.

“Our teachers and administrators have found Wednesdays to be extremely valuable … planning, collaborating … they get a tremendous amount accomplished. Our teahcers have done a tremendous amount of work and they’re continuing to learn.”

Wednesdays are also used for interventions with students and parent conferences.

Wallace said attendance is a 96.3%, down slightly from 96.8% recorded at the same time last year. Only one student, a middle schooler, had not done anything. After the principal made a trip to that student’s home, a situation was created that got the student engaged in school again. “If we don’t get them now and they fall too far behind, that’s a dropout in a few years,” Wallace said.

While the move to four days a week for elementary students is positive, Wallace said the schools have to be ready for any scenario. That time for planning and training on Wednesdays becomes more critical, he said.

“Kids need to be in school, and the science is showing us that the transmission rate of kids age 5-11 is minimal.”

As of early last week, there were nine active COVID-19 cases among students, none believed to have been contracted at a school. Most were traced back to family or social gatherings. No staff members were infected at that time.

Since the beginning of school, some 173 students have faced quarantine restrictions, as did 28 staff members.

“We’re not hiding anything,” Wallace said. “If we do have a cluster, they will tell you. And if it’s at a particular school, we’ll tell you that.”

“That, to me, says everything,” said Col. Terry Hales, board of education member. “What that says is that within our school system, we’re doing business right.”

Wallace said that even the students deserve some of the credit. Walking through the halls of Davie High during a class change, he said he saw no student not wearing a mask. When the principal noticed one student wasn’t wearing the mask properly, that student immediately apologized and pulled the mask up. “It’s amazing.”

Wallace mentioned the exceptional children’s program, and said Davie has been put up as an example across the state.

“We’re right in line. We’re doing what we should to prior to being told what we should do. It comes to what is best for the children,” Wallace said.

“Where we’re at is the best place we can be considering the situation,” said board chair, Clint Junker.

Wallace chuckeld when board member Dub Potts asked him how the situation will affect the budget. He said numbers aren’t in, but there will be savings here and there (less costs with fewer people in buildings), and increases here and there. “We do need plenty of masks, plenty of PPE items.”

Remote learning may be here to stay, and Wallace said the school system needs to be prepared.

“I don’t want to pack this up and put it on the bookshelf once we’re done with COVID. We have made tremendous strides. We have seen teachers be phenominal virtual teachers. Some kids are really excelling, and part of the goal is to maintain a virutal option in the future.”

He talked about a visit to North Davie Middle, where he saw teachers Jeremy Brooks and Matt McPherson teaching a virtual class with the same enthusiasm they used in the traditional classroom. “It did my heart so well to see that,” Wallace said.

And there’s another positive to remote learning, at least for the school system. Sorry students, but it seems that future “snow” days could be turned into “remote” days.