Daily Operation of Schools
Board approves transition to Plan A for middle schools and high schools (posted March 15)
On March 15, the Board of Education approved the transition of our middle schools and high schools to Plan A. This means that our middle school and high school students will attend school four days a week (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday) for in-person instruction beginning Monday, April 12 after our spring break.
Wednesday will continue to be a remote learning day for all students to allow for the “deep cleaning” of our school buildings and planning/professional development time for teachers and school staff.
Our middle schools and high schools will be sharing more information about the transition from Plan B to Plan A for students grades 6-12. Please understand that this does not affect our elementary schools, which have already transitioned to Plan A for in-person instruction four days a week with Wednesday as a remote learning day.
It is important to note that we will continue to operate the Gaston County Virtual Academy for students who are currently enrolled in full virtual learning. Students in the Virtual Academy will continue to receive online instruction at home five days a week.
Click here to watch the Board of Education meeting on March 15.
Board approves transition to Plan A for elementary schools (posted February 8)
On February 8, the Board of Education approved the transition of our elementary schools to Plan A, which means students will attend school four days a week for in-person instruction. Elementary students will attend school four days a week beginning Monday, March 1 with Wednesday continuing to be a remote learning day.
Our elementary schools will be sharing more information about the transition from Plan B to Plan A for students in kindergarten through fifth grade.
It is important to note that the transition to four days of in-person instruction is for our elementary school students only. This does not apply to our middle schools and high schools, which will continue operating under Plan B based on requirements from the state.
Our middle school and high school students will continue to follow our current schedule of in-person instruction two days a week and remote learning at home three days a week. Click here for our Plan B schedule graphic and our “Plan B at a Glance” chart.
Additionally, we will continue to operate the Gaston Virtual Academy for students who are already enrolled in virtual learning at home five days a week.
Click here to watch the Board of Education special meeting on February 8.
“Plan B” allows for schools in North Carolina to provide a blended model for instruction. Under this plan, students attend school part-time and engage in remote learning at home when not at school for in-person instruction.
Board of Education chooses “Plan B”
On July 20, the Board of Education approved “Plan B” for the reopening of our schools. As outlined by the state, “Plan B” provides for in-person instruction for students on a part-time basis because of social distancing requirements and building capacity limitations.
With “Plan B,” students will be divided into groups. Group A will attend school for in-person instruction on Monday and Tuesday and engage in remote learning on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Students in Group B will engage in remote learning on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday and attend school on Thursday and Friday for in-person instruction.
Additionally, parents who prefer full-time virtual learning for their child(ren) will have that option through the Gaston County Virtual Academy.
Parents/students and employees will receive information from their school about schedules, procedures, expectations, etc.
A chart outlining the "Plan B" schedule and a chart titled "Plan B at a Glance" have been included in the Appendix.
Stakeholders favor “Plan B”
Based on feedback from stakeholders who participated in meetings, surveys, and discussion about the reopening of schools, many of them indicated their preference for in-person instruction in some form.
There are other considerations in relation to the daily operation of schools, which will be unique to each school.
Schools will determine how:
▪ to conduct student arrival and dismissal in a way that ensures social distancing.
▪ to manage the movement of students and employees inside the school in a way that ensures social distancing.
▪ students will take restroom breaks; use the playground; use media center/library resources; and participate in recess and music, art, and physical education classes as well as courses that rely on student-to-student interaction such as Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs. All of these must take social distancing into consideration.
▪ to ensure social distancing and safety in the event of an emergency, evacuation, inclement weather such as a tornado, etc.
▪ to handle essential visitors on the school campus. Non-essential visitors on campus are limited at this time.
▪ to configure and use the front office and lobby area and other areas normally accessed by visitors to ensure social distancing.
▪ to configure classrooms and other spaces to ensure social distancing.
▪ to limit the use of communal spaces.
Support for schools
Facilities/Maintenance: This department is responsible for supporting schools with a wide range of items to help ensure social distancing, cleaning/sanitation, and other logistics in relation to the effective operation of schools.
▪ School custodians will receive training related to cleaning procedures and expectations. School administrators will review the cleaning procedures and expectations with staff.
▪ Each school will receive supplies of soap, paper towels, spray bottles, approved disinfectant, and other supplies necessary to maintain a clean environment. Hand sanitizer will be provided in every classroom and at the main entrance(s) at schools.
▪ Each school will receive signage, floor markers, etc. that remind students, employees, and visitors about proper social distancing (maintaining at least six feet of distance from others).
▪ Plexiglass-type shields will be provided for use in school offices.
Accountability: This department will assist schools to ensure that attendance, schedules, grades, etc. are reported in an accurate and timely manner in the PowerSchool student information system.
Further, Accountability has played a role in developing and administering stakeholder surveys related to remote learning and the reopening of schools. The stakeholder groups included parents, teachers and other certified staff, members of the Parent Advisory Council, principals, senior/district leadership, teacher representatives from the N.C. Association of Educators (NCAE) local chapter, and members of the Student Advisory Council.
The department analyzed and summarized survey data in order to help schools and the school district make informed decisions about remote learning and the reopening of schools.
Exceptional Children: Students with special needs/disabilities may require modifications to the general health guidelines in order to provide required services and maintain healthy practices. The Exceptional Children Department and our schools are committed to working closely with students/families to address individual concerns and needs.
▪ Arrival and health screening: All students will be required to have a daily health screening and temperature check when they arrive at school. Schools may have a separate health screening entrance designated for students with special needs who may not be able to use one of the established entrances for health screenings. Schools may make the following modifications for students with special needs:
+ assigning a known employee to conduct the screening; and
+ encouraging families of nonverbal students to complete the daily Attestation Form if an adult is not available to answer the questions at drop off.
▪ Face coverings: Students and employees are expected to follow face covering guidelines outlined in this document.
▪ Social distancing: We realize that parents of students with complex medical needs may have additional concerns. Students with disabilities and employees who work with them are expected to practice social distancing when possible. Personal protective equipment will be used by employees.
▪ Handwashing: Teachers will be teaching handwashing in the classroom, incorporating handwashing breaks into the school day, and reinforcing handwashing during key times throughout the school day such as before and after eating, using the restroom, and touching shared objects.
Students who require assistance with handwashing will have hand-over-hand assistance. If a student is unable to access a handwashing station, hand sanitizer will be provided. If your child has a sensitivity to hand sanitizer, please share this information with your child’s teachers so they can provide your child other opportunities to clean his or her hands.
Technology: This department will ensure that all students have a computing device issued to them for remote learning. The district will use its current inventory of Chromebook computers and new ones that have been ordered this summer to meet the expectation that every student has a device.
To date, the district has received more than 4,400 new Chromebook computers. A shipment of more than 3,100 Chromebooks was expected before the start of school, but the shipment has been delayed by the supplier. Touchscreen Chromebooks have been ordered as well, which are ideal for use by students in grades K-1.
After the coronavirus pandemic closed schools in March, the department moved the internal WiFi access points at schools closer to exterior walls so students/ families could connect to the internet from parking lot areas. In addition, WiFi access points are being added to the exterior of high school buildings, which will provide additional connectivity from parking lot areas that is more reliable.
The department has secured a limited number of mobile hotspots that will be available to students who do not have internet access at home.
Learning management systems for remote instruction
Gaston County Schools will use learning management systems like Schoology (grades K-5) and Canvas (grades 6-12) to provide a hub for blended learning instruction. Students/parents should find the learning management systems to be user friendly so students and teachers can connect virtually for effective teaching and learning.
Through the learning management systems, students have access to teacher created videos, live virtual lessons, instructional resources, differentiated course materials, blogs and forums to engage with their teachers and classmates, virtual tutoring sessions, and more. Ideally, learning management systems make it possible for students to take a more active role in the remote instructional environment.