Last month Superintendent Paul Nichols asked the Mecklenburg County School Board to consider participating in a virtual academy for the region. In the past week the school system learned that a bill in the General Assembly would allow for parents to keep their children from face-to-face learning if they so choose.
“We are trying, with the virtual academy component, to make sure that we’re in a position for two specific things. One is that we would have as few teachers as possible having to teach virtual students at the same time as face-to-face students. That does not mean that we will not have any virtual instruction because if we have the same social distancing guidelines next year that we have right now, we would still at some of our schools need to be on an A/B schedule of some type.”
The state is working closely with Virtual Virginia to make available opportunities for each school division that the schools thought they would only have if they did it as a region.
The schools recently sent out another survey to determine how many parents would choose to keep their child/children in a virtual learning setting. According to Nichols there have been 200 who chose to continue using this format. The school offices will look into the academics of the students who chose to remain virtual and will contact parents to discuss a face-to-face option if they feel that the child would benefit more from in-school learning.
The school is in the process of implementing a Spring Remediation Plan for students who struggled through virtual learning.
“When we compared our semester grades this year to last we found our students earned more D or F grades this year than last. This was not a surprise, but it does illustrate the need for extra effort to get our students where they need to be.”
“MCPS Teachers have been identified to begin working with students to help them get to where they should be/recover credit beginning March 22nd. Letters will go out Tuesday, March 16th to parents and guardians of students who have been identified as in need of remediation. These letters will state specifically the area(s) of concern and the individual and specific plan to work with the student. For those who have chosen remote learning for the second semester, support of the plan by the parent or guardian will be especially necessary as they are the ones who will need to help their student organize, focus, and follow the plan.”
Spring remediation will run from March 22 through June 11, excluding spring break.
There will be a final clinic held this Friday, March 19 for school staff to receive their COVID-19 vaccines. There are 200 spots available and currently there are 118 signed up. “Most of our staff has been vaccinated with at least the first one and many with the second one so we are making progress on that.”
The Mecklenburg County School Board heard from representatives of the Pierce Group regarding health benefits. Donna Nixon pointed out that total overall health claims for the school system had dropped 14.25% from November 2019 to November 2020.
There are two plans offered by the school system to its employees. One is a Key Advantage 1000 and the other a High Deductible Health Plan. The individual out of pocket cost is the same on both plans so that means that an individual enrolled in either plan will have no more than $5000 in medical expenses.
Three options were provided for the renewal with the hope that more individuals will lean more towards the High Deductible Health Plan. Before any decisions can be made the 2021-2022 budget will have to be approved by the county Board of Supervisors.
Dr. Paige Lacks introduced some changes to the school policy, which included changes in pronouns to more “gender neutral wording” and minor changes in verbiage. The VSBA recommended the removal of a policy about student teachers simply because there is no legal requirement to mention anything about student teachers within the policy.
Construction is still underway on the Mecklenburg County Middle/High School facility. To date the first floor of the high school classrooms are complete, light gauge metal framing is in progress in the cafeterias, plumbing and electrical work is being done to the high school gym, and Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative is on site working to connect power. The ice storm halted construction slightly but the school is on track to be completed on August 1, 2022.