Bladen County Board of Education met on Thursday, July 23, at 5:30 p.m. virtually. Board members in attendance were Roger Carroll, Board Chair, Glenn McKoy, Board Vice-chair, Chris Clark, Berry Lewis, Gary Rhoda, Vinston Rozier, Cory Singletary, and Alan West. The board attorney, Gary Grady, was present as well.
Dennis Edwards joined the meeting after the attendance call was taken.
Chairman Carroll called for a motion for the suspension of Policy 2310, which states a public comment agenda item may only be allowed once per month.
The motion to suspend the policy was made by board member Rozier and seconded by
board member McKoy. The vote passed seven to one with board member Rhoda voted against the motion.
Valerie Newton, Public Relations Officer with Bladen County Schools, read multiple statements submitted by citizens to the board before the reopening plan was presented. All, but one, of the citizen statements did not agree with the proposed blended and remote learning plans.
After the board heard the citizens statements Carroll called on Dr. Taylor to present the proposed reopening plan.
“Our plan is to start with remote learning from August 17 through September 11 for all students,” Bladen County Schools Superintendent, Dr. Robert Taylor.
Reopening Plan Overview: Since Governor Cooper declared that the minimum plan for reopening schools statewide will be Plan B (which allows for blended learning and remote learning options), our plan as of Thursday, July 23, 2020, will be as follows: Remote Learning for All Students This plan is set to remain in effect until Friday, September 11, 2020, and will be revisited on a regular basis as additional updates are received.
On September 17, through October 2, blended learning will be provided for K through 4th grade students, and 5th through 12th grade will remain on remote learning until the board reassesses the plan in October, according to Dr. Taylor’s statement.
Board member Rozier made a motion to accept Dr. Taylor’s reopening proposal for opening the schools. Board member McKoy made the second for the motion.
Singletary asked about the success of remote learning in the spring of 2020.
Dr. Taylor said, “We would like to think we were as successful as we could be.”
Dr. Jason Atkinson, Bladen County Schools Chief Technology Officer, Director of Curriculum and Instruction, and Director of Federal Programs concurred with what Dr. Taylor stated and explained the “relaxed” requirements for learning and grading in the spring. However, the legislator made more strict guidelines for the 2020-2021 school year.
The quality of remote instruction must match being face to face learning, according to Dr. Atkinson. Attendance must be documented, as well.
Chairman Carroll asked about state testing. Atkinson explained the state testing might be delayed so students may be brought into buildings for testing. However, the Department of Public Instruction is supposed to meet, tomorrow, Friday, July 24, to discuss the testing, according to Atkinson’s report.
Chairman Carrol asked if the reopening plan would prevent the schools from receiving federal dollars because the plan does not allow all grades to return to school. Dr. Taylor said, “The jury is still out on that. No action has been taken at this time.”
Board member Edwards said, “This has weighed heavy on my heart. I think this pandemic is pushed to an extreme. I’ve seen the Governor make a mockery of it. I have seen the Governor attend protests without a mask. I want to see my kid in a classroom. I think most kids and parents wants the same thing.”
Board member Singletary interjected that many parents don’t want to send their students to school yet. “I am one of those parents,” Singletary stated.
“Has anybody seen all the kids at Walmart,” Edwards countered, “The communities want their children back in schools.”
“That is the dilemma we face,” Dr. Taylor stated.
“How can we educate all of them, but still keep them safe,” Board member McKoy stated.
Board Member West asked if parents can be surveyed again. Dr. Taylor said yes, a survey could be collected.
West said, “I think that is important to do, so the ones that want to be at school can come back to school.”
Edwards asked about the students with developmental delays receiving a quality education while remote learning.
Mrs. Cheryl White-Smith, “We are working on a plan. There is nothing like face to face learning, but we are working with Dr. Atkinson with the general curriculum to create a plan for our teachers to be more effective with remote learning.”
Carroll said, “Safety has to be at the forefront for our students.”
West asked if Dr. Taylor would consider the teachers’ suggestions with the A and B blended learning, and if teachers would be allowed at the schools while remote learning is in effect. Dr. Taylor said, “Yes.”
The teachers are expected to be at the schools to do the virtual teaching and learning. They will be allowed to bring their children if needed, according to Dr. Taylor.
Board member Clark asked if there was an easier way for younger students to access online classes. Dr. Atkinson explained they are working on an easier process.
Edwards reiterated he wanted all the students in a classroom for quality education. Then Carroll called for a vote.
The board voted as follows:
The motion passed seven voting, “yes” for the reopening plan and two voting, “no” against the reopening plan represented by Dr. Taylor.
After the vote, the meeting was adjourned.
View the full re-opening plan here: Draft of Bladen County Schools Reopening Plan Presented by Dr. TaylorShare: