CHARLOTTE, N.C., March 18, 2020 — With COVID-19 social distancing practices in place, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools has found a new way to communicate with families. The district shared a video conference for parents and stakeholders on its social media channels Wednesday. Superintendent Earnest Winston and other district leaders shared updates about online learning and support available for students during the COVID-19 update.
The video conference, which may be viewed here, was created to enable district leaders a way to speak directly to parents and students. Winston began his remarks by thanking the entire CMS family, including students, teachers, staff, parents and the community. “Thank you for your patience and support as we work to find solutions to the current challenges we are facing,” said Winston. “It is important that you have information that you can trust so you and your families can make the right decisions.”
The district is following state and federal guidelines for social distancing, remote work and online learning. “Our leadership team is working nonstop to allow students to have access to learning opportunities while schools are closed for students,” said Winston.
District leaders shared the following updates:
Dr. Matt Hayes, deputy superintendent for academics, asked all parents to make sure their contact information is up-to-date. Please reach out to individual schools to make sure the correct phone number and email address are on file.
Kathy Elling, chief school performance officer, said learning community superintendents are working closely with principals for learning continuity. Student services such as psychologists, social workers and counselors are still providing services to students in need. Elling offered general guidelines for parents talking to their children about COVID-19. “The media is primarily designed for adults,” said Elling. “We recommend that parents limit the amount of information that children hear on television, provide a routine and maintain a schedule to help students feel secure. We encourage children to draw, journal and write to express their feelings.” The district has provided resources for talking to children on the district website.
Chief Academic Officer Brian Kingsley thanked parents and children for their “patience and grace.” Beginning next week, teachers will provide supplemental online-learning opportunities for students. These assignments will not be graded or assessed. “These are simply opportunities for you to continue to learn,” said Kingsley. “We want to ensure you are coming back prepared and ready to continue instruction.”
Teachers will be checking in with students weekly. “We want to make sure that you are OK,” said Kingsley. “How you are doing as a human is just as important as how you will progress as a student.”
The district is awaiting guidance from the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction about remote learning.
Spectrum Media is providing free Wi-Fi access for students in need. Please reach out to them directly for assistance.
Teachers have been working to make sure all fourth- through 12th-grade students have devices to stay connected.
Grades for all assignments due within the last two weeks will be entered by the end of this week. Kingsley said those numbers will give parents and students an accurate standing of current grades.
For assignments that were given before the school closure, maximum flexibility will be provided on turning in assignments.
A help-desk hotline will be established for families to call for assistance with digital learning. More information will be shared soon.
Dr. Frank Barnes, chief equity officer, said that Advanced Placement testing is still scheduled for the spring. “We honor and acknowledge student efforts to master skills and content that is placed before them,” he said. Barnes and other district leaders are taking parents and student concerns about state testing and exams to the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction and are awaiting guidance.
Sonja Gantt, director of the CMS Foundation, announced that the charitable organization has raised $22,000 in 12 hours in its efforts to raise $1 million for 6,000 mobile hotspots. First Horizon Bank is the district’s first corporate partner in this effort. Donations can be made on the CMS Foundation site or can be sent to the CMS Foundation, 4421 Stuart Andrew Blvd., Suite 100, Charlotte, N.C. 28217.
Cathy Beam, executive director of School Nutrition Services, said 70 meal locations are open and serving those in need. Pickup is available at these sites from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. weekdays in the school parking lot. Meals are free of charge to everyone 18 years of age or younger. Meals include lunch and breakfast for the next day. “We are honored to provide meals to children in our community,” said Beam. Email email@example.com or call 980-343-6041 for more information.
As decisions are made, information will be posted on the CMS website and social media channels.