Press release from Asheville City Schools:
Good Afternoon Students, Staff and Families. This is Ashley-Michelle Thublin, Executive Director of Communications, with important return to learn updates.
COVID-19 is spreading at a dangerous pace across our county, state and nation. Just last week, North Carolina had record-high transmission rates and hospitalization numbers.
Extending Remote Instruction For All Students:
Knowing we are at a critical point in our fight against this virus, Dr. Gene, along with our staff and the Asheville City Board of Education, has made the hard decision that Asheville City Schools will continue with remote instruction for all students, Pre-Kindergarten through 12th Grade, through the end of our third nine weeks, which is Tuesday, March 16th.
The tentative date for our large-scale, gradual transition from Plan C to Plan B for Pre-Kindergarten – 5th Grade is now set for Wednesday, March 17th. Please understand this date is subject to change based on variations in COVID-19 cases both in our community and across our state.
A tentative return date for our secondary students will be announced at a later time.
Truly, we applaud our educators and families for facing the many challenges at-home learning has brought upon our district. We know communities have been built over the computer, and both the quality and content of remote instruction has continued to increase. In addition to your outstanding efforts, we think this can be partially credited to the district’s cautious approach vs. flip-flopping between remote and in-person instruction.
At the same time, we know and understand this is not the ideal situation. This tough decision means our students will be learning remotely for over a year. However, as we continue to receive important guidance from state and local health officials as well as hear from staff, we believe it is the right one. In fact, just last week, a survey was sent to all staff members in collaboration with the Asheville City Association of Educators. Citing high transmission rates and limited access to vaccines, 85% of those who responded said they do NOT believe it is safe for students to return for face to face learning at this time.
ACS Staff Working Remotely:
In addition to students learning remotely, Dr. Gene highly recommends that staff members continue to work from home for the foreseeable future.
Our top priority remains keeping our students and staff members safe. Therefore, please stay home as much as possible and work directly with your principal or supervisor should your lesson plans or job duties require you to report in person.
At this time, only essential workers will be required to report to their assigned location. Essential workers include but are not limited to: custodians, the maintenance staff, the child nutrition staff, school social workers and bus drivers delivering meals at food distribution sites. School administrators and district supervisors will be in contact with additional staff members needed to keep essential operations ongoing.
Knowing that many staff members say a minimum of two to four weeks is needed to transition lessons from remote learning to in-person learning, Dr. Gene will also continue to work with staff and supervisors to ensure there is ample time to prepare.
Additionally, through the end of this week, our outstanding technicians will be ready and waiting at the district’s central office located at 85 Mountain Street should your child need to swap out a broken Chromebook or iPad, replace a power cord or receive a hotspot. This week, they will be available on:
- Monday, Wednesday, Friday from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM
- Tuesday and Thursday from 11:00 AM to 6:00 PM
Next Monday, January 18th is a district holiday. However, starting next Tuesday, January 19th, this process will move to the school level. Therefore, please be on the lookout for additional information from your child’s school about their future Chromebook distribution site and times.
Food Distribution Sites:
Despite our extension of at-home learning, the School Nutrition Department WILL continue to provide grab-and-go pickup meals at no cost to children 18 and under at specific schools and at scheduled community-based Food Distribution Sites. A list of our most up-to-date times and locations can be found here.
The North Carolina High School Athletics Association has NOT issued any new guidance restricting activity. At this time, middle and high school athletics will continue as scheduled at the discretion of coaches as long as the NCHSAA and CDC guidelines can be followed.
Additionally, we encourage parents to continue to use their best judgment in deciding what is best for their child, as athletics are considered a voluntary extracurricular activity. There will be NO repercussions should a student-athlete choose not to participate in a practice or game because of COVID-19 concerns.
Thank you for your continued support and flexibility! As Dr. Gene has repeatedly said, “We know face-to-face learning is best for students. However, each month, COVID numbers have continued to worsen.” Therefore, in an effort to save our school year, Cougar Family, please continue to wear a mask, maintain proper social distancing, wash your hands often and stay home as much as possible!