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Superintendent’s message for parents and employees

Message from the Superintendent

July 23, 2020

Hello, Parents and Employees.

It has been a busy week for Gaston County Schools following the Board of Education’s decision to implement “Plan B” for the reopening of schools.  

Superintendent W. Jeffrey Booker “Plan B” refers to the state’s plan that allows for a blend of in-person instruction and remote learning.  The blended model schedule is necessary because social distancing requirements limit the number of students who can be on campus at the same time.  We realize the schedule presents challenges for families, but it is a model that allows students to receive in-person instruction from their teacher(s) two days a week.  Certainly, students engaging with their teachers in person is an important part of the learning process.  

Under “Plan B,” students will be divided into groups.  Group A will attend school on Monday and Tuesday and engage in remote learning on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.  Group B will engage in remote learning on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday and attend school on Thursday and Friday.

Students whose last name begins with A-K will be in Group A and attend school for in-person instruction on Monday and Tuesday.  Students whose last name begins with L-Z will be in Group B and attend school for in-person instruction on Thursday and Friday.  Our schools will work with families as much as possible to address circumstances such as siblings who may have a different last name – it makes sense for siblings to be on the same schedule.

We have received a lot of questions about the reopening of schools.  Below is information that we hope is helpful as you prepare for the new academic year.

▪ Planning continues

Now that “Plan B” has been determined, our schools and central level departments are working on various elements that relate to the operation of schools.  It will take time over the next two weeks to finalize procedures and logistics.  Again, we ask for your patience and understanding as we work diligently to put measures in place that provide for a healthy school environment while ensuring the delivery of quality instruction.

It is important to point out that our Exceptional Children Department is working on plans to provide support for our students with special needs and their families.  Additionally, our School Nutrition Department is working on plans to offer breakfast and lunch meals, and our Technology Department is developing plans to provide a computing device for every student. 

▪ Safety is a priority

The safety of our students and employees is a priority.  Our schools will follow the health guidance provided by state and local officials to ensure that the school environment is as safe as it can be.

It will be important for students and employees to adhere to social distancing guidelines as well as other health recommendations such as frequent hand washing, participating in temperature and wellness checks, staying at home if you are not feeling well, etc.  Additionally, our schools will follow deep cleaning procedures, post proper signage, and make hand sanitizer available.

▪ Masks are required

To help ensure the health and safety of everyone at school, students and employees will be required to wear a mask at school as well as on a school bus.  The state plans to provide five cloth masks for students and teachers.  We understand that “mask breaks” will be allowed during the school day when students are more than six feet apart.  A face shield cannot be worn without a mask unless there is a medical exemption from a physician.  This information is based on the most recent guidance provided to school districts from the state. 

Bus transportation

Because of social distancing requirements and capacity limits on school buses, we know that we will need additional routes to provide bus transportation as only one student is allowed per seat.  We will use all of our school buses to complete elementary school routes first and then use the buses to complete middle school and high school routes.  This creates the need for staggered start and end times for the school day (as much as an hour difference is possible).  Buses will be sanitized between routes. 

Our schools will be contacting families to determine which students plan to ride a school bus.  This will help our schools and Transportation Department with creating bus routes, schedules, etc.   

▪ Gaston County Virtual Academy

Parents who have concerns about sending their child(ren) to school for in-person instruction are encouraged to consider the Gaston County Virtual Academy as an alternative.

Students who enroll in the Virtual Academy will be able to stay connected to their home school, and students who are in a school choice program will retain their place at their choice school.  It is our hope that students enrolling in the Virtual Academy will make the commitment to remain in the Virtual Academy for at least the fall semester.

The Virtual Academy will host a series of online information sessions next week (July 27-30).  During the sessions, parents will learn more about the Virtual Academy and be able to submit questions.  Registration for the information sessions as well as a “Frequently Asked Questions” section will be available on the Virtual Academy webpage.  Click here for the link.

▪ Student transfers and residence affidavits

Our schools as well as our Student Assignment Office are prepared to assist families with enrollment.  Student transfers that were in place last school year (2019-2020) will remain in place for the new school year (2020-2021).  This will help to maintain a familiar and consistent school environment for students.  Additionally, parents/guardians do not have to renew or submit a new residence affidavit for 2020-2021.  If you have questions about student enrollment, please contact your child’s school or call the Student Assignment Office, (704) 710-7284.

▪ Fall sports

The North Carolina High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA) has delayed the start of the fall sports season until September 1.  Workouts for our high school athletes have been delayed until August 10.  We intend to offer fall sports for our high schools and middle schools, but a final decision has not been made – it will depend on guidance from the NCHSAA and current coronavirus data.  We will share more information about athletics once it is available.

Please know that as we continue to prepare for the first day of school on Monday, August 17, we will provide more information to you.  Also, we encourage you to keep a check on our coronavirus and reopening of schools webpage for the latest information.  Click here for the link.

Thank you for your commitment to Gaston County Schools.  We are proud to have your child(ren) in our school family, and we look forward to working with you during the upcoming academic year.


W. Jeffrey Booker signature

Jeffrey Booker, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools

Click here to read Superintendent Booker’s message from July 14, 2020.