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Guilford County Schools pushing forward with Saturday internet hubs, despite just 51 students showing up

GREENSBORO — Only 51 students took advantage of one of the 60 Saturday internet hubs that debuted over the weekend, Guilford County Schools officials said Tuesday.

Despite the low turnout, the district still plans to offer the service, at least through this weekend. The internet hubs are among several efforts by the district to connect students who started the school year working remotely because of the coronavirus pandemic.

These schools are offering free internet and snacks for students and their families from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturdays. No advance registration is required, but students in grades K-5 must be accompanied by a parent. Older students can come alone but must show a student ID or schedule. 

Chief of Schools Tony Watlington said Tuesday the district continues to feel an obligation to do whatever it can to get students and families access to internet and other help, and that they got a great response from the families that did take advantage on the first Saturday of the service.

They also see this as a way of connecting with families that may not yet have enrolled their children. 

As of a week ago Tuesday, the district had 69,613 students enrolled across all grades, including pre-K. That's down from about 73,000 last academic year.

Watlington said the district is especially trying to reach kindergartners and their families who may not yet have enrolled. They look at offering these Saturday internet hubs as a way to connect with families that may have delayed signing up or are weighing options.

Each hub is set up to allow for up to 30 visitors inside at a time, including parents and students. Watlington said some of the 60 hubs had no visitors on Saturday. He said he expects participation to increase as the hubs become more familiar to families, but after the second session this weekend the district should have a better sense of how many it will continue.

The Saturday internet hubs are similar, but not identical to, the learning centers the district is also offering. More than 200 students are signed up for the learning centers, which are expanding from 13 to 23 school sites on Thursday. 

Both aim to help students who lack good internet access at home, however, the learning centers are aimed solely at students, while the Saturday internet hubs are more aimed at whole families, including students and parents. 

Students in the learning centers are likely to be in the midst of their daily classes, while families using the internet hubs are more likely to be catching up on work or troubleshooting.

Watlington said that bilingual staff are present at some of the sites and if a family arrives at a site without a staff member that speaks their language, the district will still find someone to work with them.

Today in History — Sept. 16

Today is Wednesday, Sept. 16, the 260th day of 2020. There are 106 days left in the year.

Today's highlights in history

On Sept. 16, 1974, President Gerald R. Ford announced a conditional amnesty program for Vietnam war deserters and draft-evaders.

On this date

In 1630, the Massachusetts village of Shawmut changed its name to Boston.

In 1810, Mexico began its revolt against Spanish rule.

In 1966, the Metropolitan Opera officially opened its new opera house at New York's Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts with the world premiere of Samuel Barber's "Antony and Cleopatra."

In 1982, the massacre of between 1,200 and 1,400 Palestinian men, women and children at the hands of Israeli-allied Christian Phalange militiamen began in west Beirut's Sabra and Shatila refugee camps.

In 1987, two dozen countries signed the Montreal Protocol, a treaty designed to save the Earth's ozone layer by calling on nations to reduce emissions of harmful chemicals by the year 2000.

In 1994, a federal jury in Anchorage, Alaska, ordered Exxon Corp. to pay $5 billion in punitive damages for the 1989 Exxon Valdez (val-DEEZ') oil spill (the U.S Supreme Court later reduced that amount to $507.5 million). Two astronauts from the space shuttle Discovery went on the first untethered spacewalk in ten years.

In 2001, President George W. Bush, speaking on the South Lawn of the White House, said there was "no question" Osama bin Laden and his followers were the prime suspects in the Sept. 11 attacks; Bush pledged the government would "find them, get them running and hunt them down."

In 2005, President George W. Bush ruled out raising taxes to pay the massive costs of Gulf Coast reconstruction in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, saying other government spending had to be cut to pay for the recovery effort.

In 2007, contractors for the U.S. security firm Blackwater USA guarding a U.S. State Department convoy in Baghdad opened fire on civilian vehicles, mistakenly believing they were under attack; 14 Iraqis died. O.J. Simpson was arrested in the alleged armed robbery of sports memorabilia collectors in Las Vegas. (Simpson was later convicted of kidnapping and armed robbery and sentenced to nine to 33 years in prison; he was released in 2017.)

In 2009, Mary Travers, 72, part of the folk trio Peter, Paul and Mary, died in Danbury, Connecticut.

In 2013, Aaron Alexis, a former U.S. Navy reservist, went on a shooting rampage inside the Washington Navy Yard, killing 12 people before being shot dead by police.

In 2014, President Barack Obama declared that the Ebola epidemic in West Africa could threaten security around the world and ordered 3,000 U.S. troops to the region in emergency aid muscle.

Ten years ago: Pope Benedict XVI began a controversial state visit to Britain, acknowledging the Catholic Church had failed to act decisively or quickly enough to deal with priests who raped and molested children. The Seattle Storm completed their undefeated march through the postseason, beating the Atlanta Dream 87-84 for a three-game sweep in the WNBA finals. John "Jack" Goeken, founder of telecommunications giant MCI and father of air-to-ground telephone communications, died in Joliet, Illinois, at age 80.

Five years ago: Eleven Republican presidential candidates debated at the Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, wrangling over immigration, gay marriage and foreign affairs. Baton-wielding Hungarian riot police unleashed tear gas and water cannons against hundreds of migrants after they broke through a razor-wire fence and tried to surge into the country from Serbia. Country singer Sturgill Simpson and singer-songwriter Lucinda Williams, both eclectic genre-bending artists, took home top honors at the Americana Honors and Awards show in Nashville.

One year ago: More than 49,000 members of the United Auto Workers went on strike against General Motors, bringing more than 50 factories and parts warehouses to a standstill. (The strike ended after 40 days when workers ratified a new contract.) "Saturday Night Live" said it had rescinded its invitation to Shane Gillis to join the cast; he was found to have posted a video in which he used a racial slur for Chinese people. The Pittsburgh Steelers announced that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger would undergo surgery on his right elbow, ending the 37-year-old quarterback's 16th NFL season just two weeks in. Former television newsman Sander Vanocur died in California at the age of 91; he'd been a questioner at the first Kennedy/Nixon debate in 1960.

Today's birthdays: Actor Janis Paige is 98. Actor George Chakiris is 88. Bluesman Billy Boy Arnold is 85. Movie director Jim McBride is 79. Actor Linda Miller is 78. Rhythm-and-blues singer Betty Kelley (Martha & the Vandellas) is 76. Musician Kenney Jones (Small Faces; Faces; The Who) is 72. Actor Susan Ruttan is 72. Rock musician Ron Blair (Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers; Mudcrutch) is 72. Actor Ed Begley Jr. is 71. Country singer David Bellamy (The Bellamy Brothers) is 70. Country singer-songwriter Phil Lee is 69. Actor Mickey Rourke is 68. Actor-comedian Lenny Clarke is 67. Actor Kurt Fuller is 67. Jazz musician Earl Klugh is 67. Actor Christopher Rich is 67. TV personality Mark McEwen is 66. Baseball Hall of Famer Robin Yount is 65. Magician David Copperfield is 64. Country singer-songwriter Terry McBride is 62. Actor Jennifer Tilly is 62. Retired MLB All-Star pitcher Orel Hershiser is 62. Baseball Hall of Famer Tim Raines is 61. Actor Jayne Brook is 60. Singer Richard Marx is 57. Comedian Molly Shannon is 56. Singer Marc Anthony is 52. News anchor/talk show host Tamron Hall is 50. Comedian-actor Amy Poehler is 49. Actor Toks Olagundoye (tohks oh-lah-GOON'-doh-yay) is 45. Country singer Matt Stillwell is 45. Singer Musiq (MYOO'-sihk) is 43. Actor Michael Mosley is 42. Rapper Flo Rida is 41. Actor Alexis Bledel is 39. Actor Sabrina Bryan is 36. Actor Madeline Zima is 35. Actor Ian Harding is 34. Actor Kyla Pratt is 34. Actor Daren Kagasoff is 33. Rock singer Teddy Geiger is 32. Actor-dancer Bailey De Young is 31. Rock singer-musician Nick Jonas (The Jonas Brothers) is 28. Actor Elena Kampouris is 23.

— Associated Press

Local briefs for Wednesday, Sept. 16

GTCC reopens after
network breach

JAMESTOWN — GTCC's campuses reopened Tuesday, but some classes won't meet for the rest of the week.

The community college closed all of its campuses and canceled face-to-face classes Monday, a day after discovering an unauthorized access to its campus computer network.

All online courses will meet as scheduled this week, as will adult education, ESL and workforce and continuing education classes.

The reason and extent of the breach is unknown, and GTCC said state agencies continue to investigate. 

Man charged in
machete attack

NEWPORT — Police have charged a man with attempted murder in Carteret County after they say he tried to attack two women with a machete — for no reason.

The incident occurred at about 7 a.m. Sunday in the small town of Newport. According to police, one of the women was waiting for a ride when she noticed a man across the street screaming and pointing at her. That man, later identified as Mark Luis Hall, charged toward her swinging a machete. 

She ran for help, and another woman tried to offer assistance. But Hall, 36, came after them.

Police said Hall swung the machete at both women as they ran around a parked car in a driveway, striking the vehicle several times.

The victims were able to retreat inside a home and call for help.

Staff and Wire Reports