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It's back-to-school time in Gaston County!

5 Things to Know

‘5 Things to Know’ as a new academic year begins in Gaston County

Number 1: Blended model for teaching and learning
The first day of school is Monday, August 17.  Our teachers, school administrators, and other personnel are committed to providing quality teaching and learning for students.    

Gaston County Schools will operate under the state reopening plan referred to as “Plan B,” which is a blended model of in-person instruction at school and remote learning at home.

Students whose last name begins with A-K (referred to as Group A) will attend school on Monday and Tuesday and engage in remote learning on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.  Students whose last name begins with L-Z (referred to as Group B) will engage in remote learning on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday and attend school on Thursday and Friday.

All students will be involved in remote learning on Wednesday (no students at school).  This allows for “deep cleaning” between Group A and Group B attending school for the week and gives staff time for planning and professional development. 

Number 2: Technology and learning at home
Parents with concerns about sending their child(ren) to school for in-person instruction had the opportunity to enroll in the Gaston County Virtual Academy, the school district’s online school that is beginning its fourth year.  The students will engage in full remote learning five days a week and be taught by local, certified teachers who are employed by Gaston County Schools.

More than 7,000 students chose to attend the Virtual Academy – this represents about 23 percent of the school district’s total student population based on 31,000 students.

To support remote learning at home, the district is making a Chromebook computer available to every student.  The district has installed outdoor WiFi access points at high schools to aid in providing Internet access for families.  Technicians are working now on installing outdoor WiFi access points at middle schools and elementary schools.  

Number 3: Health screenings and temperature checks
When arriving at school each day, students and staff will participate in a temperature check and health screening.  The health screening form includes questions about COVID-19 symptoms, exposure, and diagnosis.  Students and staff will be required to wear a mask/face covering while at school.  Each student and staff member will receive five face masks that are washable and reusable.  

Number 4: Inside the school
The school classroom will look different for students.  Desks and other furniture have been placed six feet apart; signs about social distancing, handwashing, masks/face coverings, good hygiene, etc. have been placed throughout the building; and floor markings are in place to guide the flow of students/staff as they move through the building.  

The classroom also becomes the place where students will eat their breakfast and lunch meals.  On days when students are at home for remote learning, a meal can be picked up at their school through the district’s “grab and go” nutrition program.

Number 5: School buses
There are 211 buses in the Gaston County Schools fleet.  Social distancing is required on school buses, which means the number of students allowed to ride the bus at one time will be limited.  A standard-size bus will be able to transport 20-24 students (depending on the number of seats) at one time.   

A temperature check/health screening will be conducted when students board the school bus in the morning.  The health screening form includes questions about COVID-19 symptoms, exposure, and diagnosis.  Parents are encouraged to accompany their child(ren) to the bus stop to aid in the health screening process. 

Buses will be used first to pick up elementary school students.  Buses start rolling at 6:15 a.m. to complete the elementary school routes.  Elementary schools begin at 7:30 a.m. (unless otherwise noted).  Once elementary school routes are complete, buses will be used to pick up students for middle schools and high schools, which begin classes at 8:30 a.m. (unless otherwise noted).  In the afternoons, elementary schools dismiss at 2:30 p.m. (unless otherwise noted), and middle schools and high schools dismiss at 3:30 p.m. (unless otherwise noted).

Buses will be cleaned/disinfected between routes.  Parents will receive information from their child’s school about bus routes, pick-up and drop-off times, etc.