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Dare school board delves into back-to-school set up

Dare County School system is preparing for a return to face-to-face learning on Monday, Oct. 26.

At the Oct. 13 Dare Board of Education meeting, Superintendent John Farrelly briefed the board members on the reopening of school.

As of Tuesday, Oct. 20, at 1,231 students – or about 22 percent of the system’s student population – will continue with remote learning.

Dare’s student population is 5,389 students.

Students in grades kindergarten through five grade return to classrooms. Grades three through five will report to elementary schools on Oct. 26. Pre-k through two report the second week. The idea is that older students will learn coronavirus safety measures and can then help the younger children.

During the first week, pre-k and kindergarten students and families and new students will participate in orientation. Four to five families per day will be scheduled by teachers.

At elementary schools, the system is creating drop-off and pick-up zones for students. Parents will not be permitted to deliver students to classrooms.

In grades six through 12, face-to-face attendance is by cohorts with some students attending Monday and Thursday and others Tuesday and Friday. Other days of the week, teachers will deliver lessons remotely. Wednesdays are set aside for planning and remediation as well as cleaning.

On Wednesdays, starting Oct. 28, the system’s child nutrition program will prepare a hot meal along with other food for those attending school remotely. The program is free. Meals can be picked up at Manteo Middle School, First Flight High School and Cape Hatteras Secondary.

Personal protective equipment has been delivered to every school. Hand sanitizer is plentiful. Every classroom and school bus have extra masks. Mask exemption application forms are available and a COVID-19 guide is under revision.

Every elementary school will have 10 new picnic tables to be used during outside time.

Mask breaks will be scheduled throughout the day for all students.

Funds totaling $1.1 million are available to the school system for coronavirus expenses.

Farrelly said the system has “tremendous challenges” in delivering remote learning.

Most exceptional children will be served by the same teacher.

Teachers will keep the same platforms, but training will be available. About 200 students will have different teachers, which Farrelly said is “unavoidable.”

With a broad array of high school courses, some teachers are required to teach during planning periods. “We’re asking our teachers to do a lot,” said Farrelly.

The system is trying to avoid using certified substitutes to initially cover a class, because substitutes will undoubtedly be needed during the ongoing months.

Training is set up for bus drivers, custodians, substitutes and virtual teachers.

“This is really complicated with a lot of moving parts,” Farrelly told the board. “Our job is to be as prepared as we can be.”

The board finally adopted policy manual updates related to the new Title IX regulations. Nine new and six revised policies were adopted. Two policies were rescinded. Two regulations were shared with the board.

Another calendar change was adopted. A required Oct. 30 workday set aside for parent conferences was moved to Dec. 2.

After the scheduled closed door session, the board approved hiring Robert Tripp as assistant principal for First Flight Middle School. He was most recently dean of students at Blair Middle School in Norfolk, Va.

In the consent agenda, the board approved a correction to the minutes of the Sept. 8 meeting and

– noted five retirements and eight resignations,

– renewed contracts for Principal Beth Rooks at Cape Hatteras Secondary and Keith Parker for secondary schools and digital communications to July 2024,

– hired six new staff members,

– approved three new substitutes and 14 coaches,

– adopted two budget amendments. The first allocated $65,951 in additional state funding and the second allocated $47,570 in state funds for debt payment for two yellow school buses.

– appointed as voting delegates David Twiddy, Joe Tauber, Margaret Lawler and Frank Hester with Mary Ellon Ballance as alternate to the 51st annual conference of the North Carolina School Board Association,

– adopted an interlocal agreement with Dare County regarding the use of Coronavirus Relief Funds for purchasing thermal stations for each school,

– adopted a resolution containing six amendments to the 403(b) plan.

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