Less than a week away from start of school year, preparedness appears to be a mixed bag

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- Days away from the start of the 2020-2021 school year and questions still remain on whether students, teachers, and parents are prepared to start school.

"We just kind of have to roll with it and see how it goes," said mother of two, Stacy Kivett. "It's going to be different no matter which way you go."

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The Apex mother has a rising sixth grader and a rising first grader under her roof. Both boys are in different schools and the preparation is different for each student.

"It is a bit concerning that we are less than a week away now and I still don't know how much I'm going to have to help out my first grader because I just don't know his schedule," she said. However, her oldest son has his schedule; but it does not spell out which courses will be live instruction and which ones will be self-instructed.

According to Wake County Public School System, district schools will release their schedules for students throughout this week.

For attendance, the North Carolina Department of Instruction has pushed students into two categories: Present on-site and present off-site.

The former is reserved for students who will be in a hybrid or blended environment. For all other students who will be attending school remotely for a specified amount of time, the present off-site category will be used. According to the DPI, "A student cannot be considered absent solely due to not logging into an online resource/lesson on a remote learning day. A student will be marked as "present-off-site" based on evidence of student engagement. A teacher who has a face to face interaction, e.g., virtual meeting or phone interaction, with a student on that current day can mark a student "present- off-site."

"It's kind of a loophole in the system at this point and once people see that, there will be certain situations where that policy is taken advantage of," said Wake County educator Ayanna Thompson.

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"I think I would want them more engaged than not and have that count more," said Kivett. "I would have preferred if they weren't quite so lenient on that to be honest. We're going to be missing out on so much that I would have hoped that they would count my student being online and actually participating and being present rather than he just logged on so he must be there doing something."

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Thompson would have preferred for the school year to start after Labor Day to ensure everyone was prepared. However, state law mandates school start prior to that date, which falls on Sept. 7 this year.

"The consistency is just not there right now. Had we started a little bit later, we would have time to prepare all of these things," Thompson said. "And I feel like at the moment, we're trying to throw everything together."
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