Commentary, COVID-19, Education, News

The week’s top stories on Policy Watch

1. UNC-Chapel Hill leaders come under fire at emergency faculty meeting

Chancellor’s failure to share health department’s reopening recommendations called a “breach of trust”

The Orange County Health Director has urged the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to move to online education for the fall semester and keep on-campus housing to an absolute minimum as the COVID-19 pandemic in the county worsens.

The campus will be doing neither of those things, Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz said Wednesday.

Health Director Quintana Stewart made the recommendations in a July 29 memo to Guskiewicz. Faculty, staff, students and members of the community only became aware of the memo Wednesday, when it was reported by media outlets including Policy Watch. [Read more…]

Bonus read: Chair of UNC-CH faculty: “a serious breach of trust” campus not aware of Orange County health recommendation

2. UNC System creating all-campus COVID-19 dashboard not open to public

The UNC System is creating a system-wide dashboard to monitor COVID-19 metrics across the system’s 17 campuses, according to a memo from UNC System President Peter Hans to chancellors of UNC schools.

The memo, obtained by Policy Watch this week, describes a dashboard that would be updated daily for “internal, informational purposes only” and not available to the public. It would be password protected and chancellors would have to request access even for their leadership teams, according to the memo.

The memo, dated August 5, is accompanied by a series of charts marked “confidential draft: not for distribution” which detail which metrics may be tracked.[Read more…]

3. As schools reopen, we’re rolling the dice with people’s lives (Commentary)
North Carolina is now almost five months into the massive societal disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and it’s more than understandable that just about everyone – especially parents of young children – is going a little stir crazy. The weather has been stifling, the news has been mostly sobering, a vaccine remains several months away at best, and the utter incompetence and moral bankruptcy in the White House’s handing of the crisis remains absolute.

At such a moment, it’s not at all surprising that people would latch onto to any shred of hopeful information that would seem to offer a path back to normalcy.

And so it is that at the beginning of August 2020, that North Carolina’s public colleges and universities and many K-12 schools are preparing to take the reopening plunge. [Read more…]

4. Majority of state’s 1.5 million students will start school with remote instruction

Roughly one million of the state’s K-12 students will attend school remotely to start the new school year, State Superintendent Mark Johnson said Tuesday.

Johnson made the comment during a remote Council of State Meeting.

“Right now, we’re on track for two out of every three students in our public schools to start learning remotely,” Johnson said.

Two-thirds of the state’s 1.5 million students is about one million students.

Gov. Roy Cooper directed the state’s 116 school districts to reopen, as soon as Aug. 17, using a mix of remote learning and in-person instruction. Cooper also gave districts the option to reopen using remote learning only if coronavirus metrics indicate that’s best for students.[Read more…]



5. NC may turn to low-performing virtual charters in response to demand for online education

Last year, after four consecutive years of poor academic performance, state lawmakers rewarded North Carolina’s virtual charter school pilot program with an extension that allows its two schools to operate through the 2022-23 school year.

The pilot program created in 2015 was supposed to end after the 2018-19 school year. But lawmakers apparently saw something promising in N.C. Cyber Academy (NCCA) and N.C. Virtual Academy (NCVA) not reflected in their academic performances.

Both schools have earned school performance letter grades of “D” every year since opening for the 2015-16 school year. Lawmakers waived letter grade requirements for the 2019-2020 school year because schools closed in mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic.[Read more...]

6. As COVID cases begin to stabilize, Cooper takes precautionary step to hold the line on further reopening

With clean-up from Hurricane Isaias just beginning and college students flocking back to campuses this week, Governor Roy Cooper says the state will pause its COVID-19 reopening plans until after Labor Day.

North Carolina has been in Phase Two since May 22, and bar owners and gym owners have been pushing hard to resume normal business operations.

But North Carolina is just now seeing signs that all the hard work and safety measures are slowing transmission of the coronavirus. [Read more…]

7. Still white after all these years: One woman‘s battle with racism and white supremacy culture

The room erupted in laughter. People joked, “We wondered when we’d catch you!” I was terribly embarrassed. But I was lucky with this reaction. So full of grace. I was given the gift of space to make a mistake and learn from it.[Read more…]

8. Weekly interviews/podcasts and radio commentaries with Rob Schofield:


Click here to listen.

9. Weekly Editorial Cartoon:


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