To Our Lee County Schools Community:
As we wind down the school year, we are diligently preparing for what next year will bring. On one hand, we all hope to have students back in buildings for school. This will take considerable planning given the health and safety concerns with COVID-19. On the other hand, we also have to prepare for remote learning possibilities if a return to school is not allowed. We are doing our best to prepare for both scenarios even as conditions change on a daily basis.
In this letter, I give our weekly update and outline new recommendations for the 2020-21 school calendars.
We served 7,550 meals for the week of May 25, and 122,952 meals have been served since March 20.
A few weeks ago, the North Carolina General Assembly passed COVID-19 legislation that made a one-year change to the law regarding school calendars. The new law continues to require the calendar to contain 185 days or a minimum of 1,025 instructional hours. However, the law did mandate a new traditional calendar start day of Monday, August 17, the addition of 5 instructional days to the aforementioned requirements and the addition of 5 remote learning days for students. For the first time, the law also defined that a year-round school must adhere to a strict 45 days on, 15 days off calendar.
Because of these changes, our school re-entry team has drafted proposed calendar changes that will be presented in a special called meeting of the Lee County Board of Education on Monday, June 1 at 5 p.m. The new requirements allow us to incorporate some options that the previous calendar law did not allow, such as high school exams before Christmas break and the conclusion of the school year prior to Memorial Day weekend.
We also have a full week of required work days prior to the start of the school year to ensure our staff is comfortable with new health and safety measures in place because of COVID-19 and ready to welcome students into buildings. The proposed calendar will be available later this afternoon on the Lee County Schools website.
For Tramway Elementary School’s year-round calendar, we have wrestled with the dilemma of developing health and safety measures necessary for teacher work days to begin on July 9 and reopen for students on July 15, especially given the uncertainty we are facing with the ebb and flow of the pandemic. Although we have worked internally on a plan for re-entry at all schools, we are still awaiting guidance from the Department of Public Instruction and the Department of Health and Human Services about specific guidelines for North Carolina public schools.
Because of this uncertainty, we do not feel comfortable from a health and safety perspective to recommend that Tramway opens for staff on July 9 and students on July 15. The logistics of preparing the building and staff for an opening six weeks away seems unmanageable.
For that reason, we are recommending that Tramway Elementary adopt a traditional calendar for one year and then return to a year-round calendar for the 2021-22 school year. This will allow us to have the same amount of time to safely prepare Tramway as traditional schools for students and staff in August.
Additionally, because of the 45/15 year-round calendar restrictions, Tramway’s year-round calendar for this year would have ended on June 16. That would have only provided Tramway students and teachers with a three-week summer break before the 2021-22 session, which didn’t seem like a very good option.
We are still working on a recommendation for the Lee Early College calendar as Central Carolina Community College (CCCC) is finalizing some course changes. The start day for CCCC is August 17.
We have been working with a vendor that will allow for online registration. We have been told that it should be available by the middle of June.
As a reminder, our last day of school is Thursday, June 4.
As we conclude the week, I want to thank everyone for their continued support of our schools. As usual, I wish you and your family good health in the coming week.