May 20, 2020
Good Evening NCSU School-Community,
It is hard to believe we’ve now endured two months of school being closed and all the adjustments to remote learning. We appreciate the challenge this has been for students, parents, and staff. We also know it is generally hard for all of us to remain focused this time of year as the weather becomes nice and we approach summer break. …as we’ve said from the beginning, all we can ask is that everyone truly does their best!
End of The Year: As originally directed by the Secretary of Education, we have planned to follow our school calendar, including making up snow days and other cancelations. It appears now that some waivers have been granted to school districts and I will discuss several considerations with the NCSU Executive Committee this Thursday evening. So, stay tuned to possible minor adjustments to the actual end of the year dates for students and staff. …don’t worry, we won’t be adding any days!
End of the Year Celebrations & Graduation: Please know that we share the disappointment of many regarding our inability to conduct traditional end of the year celebrations and graduation ceremonies. The guidance provided by the Agency of Education places very specific restrictions on what we can and cannot do - including situations where schools may have “drive-in” or “drive-through” ceremonies. I know our principals will work with staff, students and parents to provide the most meaningful experience we can under the circumstances.
Summer: I want parents to know that we are planning on running summer programs. Although we will need to adhere to strict guidelines from State agencies and will have to alter some of our programming options from recent years, we are optimistic we will have engaging programs in place for students. You should anticipate information and registration forms coming from schools in the near future. We are also in the process of considering extending our meals programs through part of the summer. Please complete any surveys provided by schools as they will help us determine the interest of families. As you can imagine, there are a number of logistics to consider and we hope to have a decision regarding summer meals in the next week or so.
Next Fall: I know there are many questions regarding how we will begin the school year. At this point in time, we do not have clear guidance from the Agency of Education on what school will look like in the fall. We remain optimistic, given the public health information that we are receiving, that we will return to school in late August as scheduled. Nonetheless, we should all anticipate there will be many challenges to navigate that will make the start of the school year far from normal. It is reasonable to think we may still need to utilize elements of remote learning next year, depending on the development of the virus across the State and our region. We recognize the level of ambiguity over the next couple of months is likely to be more than we’d like. We can assure you we are working with all the necessary agencies and state authorities to ensure we provide a safe, healthy and productive learning environment for students and staff. I am very appreciative of how our school-community has stepped up this spring and have no doubt we will do so again through the summer and next year in the interest of supporting our students. We will continue to provide updates from the supervisory union and individual schools.
I hope that folks can find time to enjoy the nice weather - when you are not in school! …and, enjoy the upcoming long weekend.
John A. Castle
NCSU Superintendent of Schools
April 17, 2020
A Message to All Members of our NCSU School-Community,
I am touching base with students, parents, staff and board members across our school community as we begin spring break.
As challenging as the transition to remote learning is for everyone, we are hearing many positive accounts from staff, students and parents. Please know that we appreciate all the effort that is being put forward by everyone to make the most of this situation. We have provided guidance and resources for our instructional staff and plan to share additional guidance and resources for parents after break. I encourage students and parents to complete the surveys that went out this past week - your input is important. We will provide surveys for teachers before the end of the month and surveys for everyone again in May and June. Please know that we are committed to truly doing our best to provide meaningful remote learning opportunities for each student.
We also want to thank those who continue to clean and maintain our schools, all those who continue to prepare and deliver meals daily and those who are volunteering in our two childcare locations, in Newport and Troy. All your efforts are greatly appreciated - especially since we will continue both meals and childcare through the week of break.
We know everyone is working hard and enduring the daily routines associated with the expectations for social distancing. Hopefully, folks will have a chance to catch your breath next week …and, hopefully, we will start to see some more spring-like weather!
I wish you and your family well!
John A. Castle
NCSU Superintendent of Schools
March 27, 2020
Message to All Members of our NCSU School-Community,
I hope you and your family are well and adjusting okay under the challenging circumstances impacting our community. We recognize the growing concerns the spread of the virus has created, with far more disruption and stress in people’s lives than most of us could have imagined just a couple of weeks ago. Now, as you most likely know, we all must adjust to schools being closed through the remainder of the year. We know that the prolonged closure of schools and shift to remote learning places many demands on families and staff that we are not readily equipped to respond to easily. We are all doing the best we can to address the immediate needs before us each day and each week. I’m reaching out to check in with various groups across our supervisory union.
Students - What is most important right now is that you are safe, healthy and not feeling too stressed about things. Please know that we care about you personally and care about your learning. Although there are certainly barriers and limitations to learning right now, ultimately you can do a great deal to continue your own learning. We also know many of you are greatly disappointed in not being able to participate in sports, field trips, and other activities that are important to you. We are told we will need to wait until May to determine end of the year events like graduation. We will provide more information for you on learning expectations and things like grades in the next week.
Parents - We know this is a very challenging time for you as a parent. You are no doubt juggling many things in your household and now find yourself trying to directly support your child’s learning on top of everything. We want you to focus on your wellbeing and that of your family. Yes, your child’s learning is important, yet it is totally understandable that you attend to other priorities for your family at this time. We will work with you, and your child, to do what we can to continue their learning in the weeks ahead. We will have more guidance and resources available to you next week.
Faculty and Staff - We can’t thank you all enough for what folks have done to support students and each other. Many of you stepped up to support our meal program and delivery, childcare for essential workers, keeping schools clean and healthy, extending emotional and mental health support and creating remote learning - all very quickly! I recognize that how we support students over the next several months will be challenging and require new ways to facilitate learning and how we provide a wide range of academic and social/emotional supports. Our children and families need your help and we appreciate all that you are doing. We also know that you, too, need time to take care of your family. We will provide more clarity around expectations and important information for you next week.
Principals, Administrators & Central Office Staff - likewise, we want all of you to know how much we appreciate what each of you are doing to support your particular school-community and efforts across the SU. Folks at central office have been great at taking on new responsibilities while making sure many routine, yet important, duties are still completed to ensure continuity.
Board Members - As always, thank you for your continued advocacy for our schools and steadfast support of staff and families. We need your active engagement and strong leadership as board members at this time. Your service to your community is important and valued.
We’ve seen an incredible effort and outpouring of support across our school-community over the past couple of weeks. We will continue to need everyone to do their best under the circumstances. That’s all we can ask! The next several months will reveal the character, competence, creativity and sense of community that is so inherent across NCSU. There are many challenges each of us will face, yet know that we are there to support each other along the way. Do not hesitate to reach out to me directly if there are questions, concerns or suggestions you might have.
Take care and be well.
John A. Castle
NCSU Superintendent of Schools
Childcare for Families of Essential Persons - Important Update
I hope this message finds you all in good health, it has been a challenging week! After convening the NCSU Childcare Team this afternoon we have made the decision to consolidate the Newport City and Derby childcare site to Newport City Elementary starting Monday, March 30th. This action is in response to current availability of volunteers and number of participants. We will do our best to keep children in the same classrooms with the same students to reduce risk of exposure. Troy will continue to run as usual, but will have a max capacity of 8 students (The AOE classroom size recommendation). If you arrive at Troy to find that 8 students are already there (we have not had more than 6 in attendance this week), you can call (802) 334-0933 to see if there is room at Newport City for the day.
I have linked below our volunteer procedures, as well as our guide when it comes to exposure to COVID-19. We ask that you follow the same guidelines to keep everyone exposed to your children safe.
Beth Chambers, Kristin Beswick and the NCSU Childcare Team