FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions about School Closings/Coronavirus
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:
Below are questions related to public schools and the school closings as related to the Coronavirus with answers from the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. (Updated: 3/25/2020, Governor Cooper extended Executive Order 117 school closure to students through May 15th)
Will these days be forgiven?
Only the General Assembly has the authority to waive or forgive instructional days and hours required by the state's school calendar law. We will continue to advocate for districts' flexibility within the calendar that best meets the needs of students.
Now that the Governor has declared all NC schools be closed for the next 2 weeks, do we have to count the days as non-instructional OR can we allow our students to work from home and count the days as instructional?
DPI and the State Board plan to petition the General Assembly to count the days as if students were in the building. The GA, just like everyone else, understands the unusual circumstance we are all in.
Are there defined expectations for instruction during the closing to allow for students and teachers to be counted present or days to be counted as days of instruction?
During this closure period, local boards of education and school leaders should create plans for remote or distance learning opportunities in the event that a longer period of school closure is needed. Executive Order No. 117, however, does not mandate that remote or distance learning opportunities for students be offered between March 16 to March 30. Local boards of education and school leaders may provide remote or distance learning opportunities for students if they are able. Local boards of education and school leaders should continue current virtual learning opportunities.
How will this mandated closure impact scheduled spring breaks that have not yet occurred? What will the protocol be for families who have already scheduled trips and paid deposits? Will that be determined by the state or will those types of decisions be determined by the LEAs?
Local Boards of Education have the authority to make these scheduling decisions. Some districts have elected to move up or extend spring break periods. We recognize the circumstances are not ideal.
Is there a possibility the closure could be extended past the March 30 date?
(Update: The governor extended closure through May 15th)
The federal government, the Governor's Office, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, and the Department of Public Instruction continue to monitor this rapidly-developing public health situation. Districts are encouraged to utilize this time to plan for the possibility of extended closures as we learn more about the spread of COVID-19 and its impacts.
Will you please clarify the Governor's Executve Order related to personnel?
(update: The governor extended the closure to students through May 15th)
This Executive Order contemplates that public school facilities be closed as instructional settings for K-12 students. Under Section 2 of Executive Order 117 and consistent with direction from and consultation with the Office of the Governor, weekdays between March 16 to March 30, 2020 are to
be designated by default as “optional teacher work days” for employees. All staff remain in work status and are eligible to be paid. Local boards of education have the flexibility to designate days during the school closure period as mandatory teacher workdays or annual leave days. School
districts may also exercise their local authority and rearrange their school calendar and designate days as annual leave days as needed.
To the extent feasible, local boards of education and school leaders should provide opportunities for employees to work remotely during the school closure period and/or reassign employees to safe work environments with appropriate assigned tasks.
How is it fair that some individuals have to report to work and others can work from home?
Working from home or from a remote location should not be considered a day off. It is expected that all employees will carry out their assigned responsibilities regardless of their duty station. While circumstances may require the location of the work to be different, it does not diminish the need to focus on the product.
What about employee child care? If both parents work for the school district or there is a single-parent household, can they receive flex time to work from home?
Districts have the flexibility to allow an employees duty station to vary, based on individual circumstances. In these situations it would not be considered flex time, it would simply be a temporary duty station change.
How are we to account for employees "telecommuting"? How do some of our employees do that?
Disricts have the ability to create parameters for telecommuting.
Will teacher observation process be altered in regard to timelines?
We will continue to monitor the impact of the closure and will provide guidance once we know more.
Student service organizations and churches are already wanting to help at schools with food delivery or any other needs. Is it advisable that school/student organizations should be involved if we are closing school?
We expect that volunteers and service organizations will play a key role in helping meet community needs during this time. As with all other gatherings, social distancing and keeping crowds below 100 are necessary considerations.
(update: The governor extended the closure to students through May 15th)
Can small group activities such as driver's ed roadwork continue during these two weeks?
All school and school related activities are shut down for two weeks. If an extended closure period is warranted we will seek additional guidance.
Can school buildings remain open for staff?
TESTING AND ACCOUNTABILITY:
What will happen to EOGs/EOCs?
At this time, no decision has been made about accountability. We are working with the USED on potential flexibilities in our ESSA plan around accountability.
Will students be held accountable for the mastery of North Carolina Standards as they relate to preparation for learning and end of year and course testing?
Schools will need to prepare for remote learning options to potentially continue instruction of the NC Standard Course of Study remotely for all students. No decisions have been made yet regarding accountability measures.
What is the status of shipments of test materials?
NCDPI has suspended all shipments of test materials until further notice.
TRANSITION-RETURNING TO SCHOOL:
Who will decide when we come back and will a transition plan and "reentry" period be provide or decided by each district?
The Governor will decide.
At what point is the state going to review the idea of the "at least two weeks" so we can know when to look for a decision about potential extension of the closure?
(update: The governor extended the closure through May 15th)
Governor Cooper will make further decisions about any potential additions to the school closures. We continue to work with his office to stay updated and will share any new updates as they become available.
You can find helpful resources related to the Coronavirus for Brunswick County residents on this website: https://www.brunswickcountync.gov/health/coronavirus/