About 25% of Wake County secondary students have an F in one or more courses during pandemic

CARY, N.C. (WTVD) -- The Wake County Public School System released troubling information on first-quarter grading and attendance during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Approximately a quarter of secondary students -- grades 6 through 12 -- had an F in one or more courses and approximately 8.8% of students have four or more absences, according to information discussed during a work session Tuesday for district board members.

The district is trying to get to the root cause of what's causing it.

"There's a pretty wide range and it could range from anywhere from housing instability and moving to food insecurity sometimes it's about caring for another sibling or it's that students are working because they're trying to support their families financially," said WCPSS Asst. Superintendent for Student Support Services Paul Koh.

"While there are obviously multiple factors at play here often outside of our control and while given the trends that we're seeing across the state and the nation that perhaps make a decline in grades and student attendance less than surprising, any time we see an increase in the number of students that are struggling, regardless of the circumstances, we are of course concerned and also committed to finding opportunities to improve outcome," added WCPSS Asst. Superintendent for Academics Drew Cook.

The board met Tuesday evening and among the topics on the agenda was approval of a second-semester plan, which would allow high school students to return to school for in-person instruction on a three-week rotation.

Board members also discussed the 2021-2022 calendar for traditional, modified and multi-track year round during Tuesday's work session.

The proposed 2021-22 instructional calendars contain 177 student days and at least 1,025 instructional hours, according to the meeting agenda.

For proposed calendars.

Board members will get feedback on the proposed calendars and take a vote December 1.

Willow Springs High School will open in 2021.
According to the meeting documents: "Willow Spring High will open with grades nine and 10 only for the 2021-22 school year. Any student rising into grades 11 or 12 living in the base attendance area of Willow Spring High will continue at their current base high school with their current level of transportation. Students in grades nine and 10 are not eligible to grandfather unless they have an 11th or 12th grade sibling."

More information on future schools can be found here.

During Tuesday's meeting, the Wake County school board voted 7-1 to adopt a plan to allow high school students to return to in-person learning on a 3-week rotation. The plan allows the board to pivot back to remote learning if clusters appear or cases rise between now and the start of next semester. The lone nay vote came from Dr. Jim Martin who expressed concern for the schools' ability to maintain the usage of the 3 W's.

Students in PreK-3 and K-12 regional programs began their return to in-person instruction on October 26 on a three-week rotation, and started daily in-person instruction on November 16. Grades four and five started a three-week rotation to in-person instruction on November 16. Students in grades six-eight began their return to in-person instruction on a three-week rotation on November 9.

Wake County Schools also on Tuesday eased its ban on spectators at school sporting events starting week of Nov 30. Immediate family members of athletes will be able to attend after that. Attendance will be limited to 25. Tickets will go to home teams only.

Watch the work session here.

Watch the board meeting here.
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