Remote teaching and learning may continue for some students, teachers after schools reopen

State Superintendent Mark Johnson

When traditional schools reopen, possibly in mid-August, it won’t likely be for everyone.

Teachers and students at high-risk of contracting the coronavirus could be asked to continue teaching and learning remotely, according to Superintendent Mark Johnson.

Johnson shared those thoughts last week in an email message to members of a task force studying and planning for the reopening of schools.

“Since the start of our switch to remote learning in March, I have held the belief that we are going to need to utilize remote learning next school year as well in some form or fashion,” Johnson said. “As guidelines start to take shape, we see that we will need options to at least protect students and teachers who are in the high-risk category.”

Johnson also warned that the reopening of schools won’t be easy.

Following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines to screen students before they enter school buildings will take a herculean effort, he said.

“Depending on how schools must screen students before entering, a screening process could take hours if schools are near capacity,” Johnson said. “And, that doesn’t even start to account for the space required depending on NC DHHS’ [N.C. Department of Health and Human Services’] upcoming guidance on social distancing at schools.”

Johnson said state education leaders are rethinking how remote learning might look for the state moving forward.

Ideas include:

  • Addressing teacher shortages through the help of teachers in the at-risk category who could create remote lessons from home for students anywhere in the state to use.
  • More remote lessons coordinated from the district or state level instead of individual schools creating all of their own lessons (allowing teachers more one-on-one time with students, even if remotely).
  • Utilizing more remote learning tools with built in lessons and support that already have a strong track record of use before this crisis.
  • Reopening schools for lower grades first while relying on remote learning at the start of the year for high school.

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