Wake County Schools reveal compliance plans as middle schoolers return to classrooms

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- About 6,000 Wake County Public School System middle school students will go back to school for in-person instruction Monday.

Middle-schoolers will return to school in groups. Each group will be back for one week with one day off. Then they'll do virtual learning for two weeks.

The Wake County Public School System's COVID-19 dashboard shows 25 cases at schools since in-person instruction started for elementary students.

"I want to see it as zero, right?" Superintendent Cathy Moore said Friday. "I mean, I don't want any cases in our schools, but we know that that's not a realistic goal. So at this point, where I then go is, I want to make sure that we are limiting spread."

Superintendent Moore said the dashboard is just one tool the district is using to make sure there is a culture of compliance.

RELATED: Wake County parents ready for students to get back into classroom

In addition, a leadership team will be visiting schools on a regular basis. Staff members can fill out an anonymous survey to report areas of concern and there's a confidential reporting app for staff, Moore said. These are available to employees on the district's Intranet, WakeConnect.

Fewer than 17 percent of students will be back to school at Wake Forest Middle School on Monday. That's about 200 out of 1,187 students.

Principal Christopher Bradford said class sizes will vary from four to 14 students.

Wake Forest Middle School math teacher Michelle Rothfeld said she's excited for her students to return for in-person instruction.

"The idea of hearing the laughter and being actually (able) to have kids in the classroom is so exciting," Rothfeld said.

She has sets of two side-by-side chairs in her classroom. Students will sit in blue chairs during one period and tan chairs in another.

"When I do have face-to-face kids, there's going to be probably anywhere from 10 to 12 kids that are actually in this classroom and then I will have kids that I'll be teaching at home and they will be receiving the same information," Rothfeld said. "I have kind of set up a plan that allows me to teach the kids that are in class but also share that same information with the kids at home simultaneously."

There's a care center at Wake Forest Middle for students who get sick during the day. Arrows remind middle school students which way they should walk in the hallways.

There will be 60-65 students in the cafeteria for lunch at one time. Students will be seated socially distanced, facing the same direction.

Students can't use their lockers. Locks have been turned around. This keeps students from gathering in the hallway.

If the weather is nice, students will have P.E. classes outside at the track. If not, they'll be inside the gymnasium.

"You can see the gym has been spaced out six- to seven-feet apart," said teacher Amy Carlyle, who added that students won't use equipment.

Everyone entering a district school building must be screened and wear masks.

State Health Director Dr. Betsy Tilson said Thursday that the state isn't seeing schools as a big driver of COVID-19 cases.

Tuesday, the district is having a board meeting.

Superintendent Moore would not confirm whether they are recommending a return date for high school students at Tuesday's board meeting but did say the planning assumption was that staff would bring forth a proposal for high school students to return in the second semester with a three-week rotation.

Moore also said they'll be presenting information to the board at the November 17 work session to address what they're seeing with grades and attendance during remote learning.

"We do have a higher failure rate than we had first quarter same time the year before but, again, we're making sure that we're looking at incompletes and other data that's in there and cleaning all of that up," Moore said.
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