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Dare school board to moves discussion of reopening to October 1

At the very end of a Sept. 8 board meeting, five members of the Dare County Board of Education turned down a motion to reopen all schools for students in kindergarten through fifth grade and for all special needs students by Sept. 28 and schools for students in grades 6 through 12 by Oct. 13.

At the beginning of the meeting, the board had scheduled a special called meeting to discuss reopening. That meeting will now be held Thursday, Oct. 1 starting at 5 p.m. The meeting will be heard live on Youtube through a link on DaretoLearn.org, the Dare County Schools website.

On July 20, on a 5 to 2 vote, the board elected to start the 2020-21 school term with remote learning for the first quarter, which ends Oct. 23.

At this meeting, board member Harvey Hess said “I think we can move faster than this.” Hess made the last item motion and member Joe Tauber seconded the move. Both voted for the September motion and cast the votes against remote learning in July.

The logistics of reopening schools involves school building capacity limits, a registration process for remote learning, figuring out teachers for remote and face-to-face instruction, transportation schedules and student limits on buses and in classrooms.

Other proposed options for reopening schools involve a combination of remote and face-to-face learning, i.e., with students attending every other week or two days a week and two or three remotely with Wednesday set aside for disinfecting buildings.

The board made calendar changes at the suggestion from Superintendent John Farrelly. Assuming that Dare students will be back in the school buildings by November, Farrelly suggested moving a required teacher workday scheduled for Sept. 28 to Nov. 3, 2020. The Dare County Board of Elections will be using five of the school system’s gymnasiums for General Election voting on Nov. 3. Farrelly expressed concern about traffic patterns and filled parking lots.

An additional calendar change dropped five required remote learning days since the current school year started with a week-long remote learning session. The board’s vote on calendar changes was unanimous.

Farrelly announced that the system’s graduation rate rose this year to 94.9% for the Class of 2020. In an email message, Farrelly wrote “initial data ranks DCS as the 6th highest district in the state of North Carolina.” Every high school in Dare’s system increased its percentage of students graduating.

About the opening of school Aug. 17, Farrelly said the day was “unlike any other start of the school year.”

Planning for remote learning consumed the summer. Two guidebooks – one for students and parents, the other for staff – were produced. Standards and expectations were explained.

The superintendent reported that every student in the Dare system has a Chromebook. The number of WiFi connections has doubled.

Attendance is taken daily. Teachers have office hours each day.

On the consent agenda, approved unanimously by the board, are:

– An agreement with Gardner-Webb University for Dare County Schools employees enrolled in an educator preparation program to complete requirements for internships.

– A new grade level category for the educational directory and demographical information exchange. XG will be used for a child with a disability who requires special education and related services who has completed 12th grade but still not met graduation requirements or reached age 22. The student can complete the school year in which the age 22 is reached.

– A donation from the Kitty Hawk Elementary School PTA of about $30,000 to Kitty Hawk Elementary for supplemental instructional material/supplies, cultural events and staff appreciation luncheons as approved by the principal.

– An annual subscription to EMS LINQ for five years at an annual rate of $29,739. LINQ provides software for DCS’s accounting system and human resource records.

Farrelly made the following announcements:

– John Donlan, the system’s director of administrative services, is also responsible for the career and technical education program.

– Barbara Davidson is the new director of the Dare Education Foundation.

– Diane Childress, First Flight Middle School, is the Dare County Schools Principal of the Year and Ellen Bryson at Kitty Hawk Elementary School is the system’s Teacher of the Year.



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