GREENSBORO — North Carolina has approved Guilford County Schools’ application to create two new virtual schools, a district administrator said Monday.
The district had sought state permission to start the schools to offer an online option for families and teachers during the COVID-19 pandemic, even if schools end up being open for in-person classes this August.
The schools would be the Guilford eLearning Virtual Academy for grades K-5 and Guilford eLearning University Prep Academy for grades 6-12. Eboni Chillis, the district’s interim chief innovation officer, is taking the lead on the virtual schools project.
School board members are set to discuss the reopening of school for the upcoming school year during an online work session Thursday.
Guilford County Schools formed a task force of more than 150 people to help them plan for next year, according to a news release the district shared last week. The district also joined with several other large urban school districts in North Carolina for another task force to share ideas and options for the upcoming school year.
Chief of Staff Nora Carr stressed that even as they try to plan, a lot is still up in the air.
“Everybody in the state is waiting to see what the direction will be from the governor and the Department of Health and Human Services,” Carr said. “Information is subject to change.”
Governor Roy Cooper said on July 1 that he would announce within the next couple weeks one of three directions for the reopening schools. Those are opening the schools with minimal social distancing, opening with moderate social distancing and therefore lowering school building capacity, or remote learning only. School districts could pick a more restrictive option than what the governor selects, but not less. He asked school districts to plan for all three scenarios.
In the news release last week, the district said that, while planning for each of the three scenarios, it has focused most of its attention on the moderate social distancing option. District officials expect that to include a blend of in-person and remote learning, given that the district would be unable to educate or transport all children at the same time for in-classroom instruction if allowable building and bus capacity are lower.
“Our goal is to serve as many students as possible for the greatest amount of time possible while also keeping students, faculty, staff, parents and our community healthy and safe,” Superintendent Sharon Contreras said in the release.