Durham parents express health and safety concerns as schools plan to reopen

Friday, July 10, 2020
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"The teachers can't tell me everything and he definitely won't tell me. The unknown of how his day will be carried out will be a great, great concern of mine."

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- Princess Pedew is deciding her 12-year-old son Quincy, will not start 7th grade this year in a classroom, when Githens Middle School reopens next month.

"I'm really concerned," Pedew told ABC 11.

Quincy has autism but is high functioning. The single mother of three says remote learning has been overwhelming and challenging for her family, but it will continue.

Pedew fears under Durham Public Schools reopen guidelines, staff and resources for her son could be limited, and his health and safety may be at risk.

RELATED: Parents, educators react to Durham Public Schools 2020-21 reopen plan

"I don't know if he will be washing his hands as he should," Pedew said. "The teachers can't tell me everything and he definitely won't tell me. The unknown of how his day will be carried out will be a great, great concern of mine."

Next school year, DPS will require cloth face coverings, which be provided by the district. Staff will conduct temperature checks. But no COVID-19 testing. Buildings and classrooms will be half full-each room will be disinfected daily.

School buses can't reach more than 33 percent capacity.

RELATED: Durham Public Schools superintendent to recommend year-round schools operate on traditional schedule

"I want my son to go back to school," said Carmen Jarmon, whose 17-year-old son Mason will be a rising senior at Hillside.

But that won't happen. DPS says high school students will continue remote learning, so K-8 students can use their classrooms.

A virtual academy will be available for students choosing to stay home.

Next Thursday, the district will ask the school board to put year-round students on a traditional calendar year schedule to free up resources.

Gloria De Los Santos has an 11-year-old and 16-year-old in year-round school at the School for Creative Studies.

"Personally, I don't have a problem with it," De Los Santos told ABC 11. "One of my biggest concerns is safety."

Durham Public schools held a virtual town hall for parents Thursday to explain their reopen plan. The district says questions from parents will help administrators create a list of Frequently Asked Questions for families and the community.