Stanly school board votes to update fifth-grade schedule

ALBEMARLE — At a special-called meeting on Monday night, the Stanly County Board of Education unanimously voted to amend its schedule format for fifth graders.  

The school board chose to take the fifth grade off of the A-B schedule and to implement a standard face-to-face format Monday through Thursday for students who choose to participate.  

However, parents who prefer to keep their children on the distance-learning format can continue to do so.  

“I’ve given a lot of thought to both sides of this, and I do think we have some parents who chose face-to-face that would say, ‘Now the rules have changed, and I’m no longer comfortable with my child going face-to-face,’” said Vicki Calvert, interim superintendent for Stanly County Schools. “I definitely see us accommodating those parents, because when they made their choice, we had a different set of rules.” 

As decided on Sept. 15, Friday will remain a remote-learning day for all students and fifth graders will continue to be housed at middle schools.  

Calvert told the board that a survey had been sent to elementary and middle school principals, along with fifth-grade teachers, asking their preference between keeping fifth graders in middle school or moving them back to elementary school. A sizable majority, 23, chose to keep them in middle school, while six wanted to move them back; 11 said they were still undecided on the issue.  

The school board’s latest update to the schedule comes on the heels of Gov. Roy Cooper’s announcement that elementary schools will be allowed to return to daily, in-person classes on Oct. 5. Last Tuesday, the board voted to have middle and high schoolers use in-person learning on Mondays and Tuesdays for the “A group” of students and Wednesday and Thursday for the “B group” of students.  

Previously, high schools have sectioned students into three different groups instead of two. 

During the meeting, the school board discussed the idea of bringing all elementary school students back to in-person classes under the recent approval of Gov. Cooper. However, the board unanimously agreed that this approach should be saved for the spring semester. 

“All of us have received emails from teachers that have very, very valid points about how if we transition these kids again, we’re losing them even more,” said school board member Glenda Gibson. “We may have to change all this in a few weeks, so let’s just be patient and see what happens. I think our parents had a choice at the very beginning if they wanted remote or face-to-face — we made a commitment to not change that until the end of the semester and we need to uphold that.” 

Gibson raised the concern that changing the schedule format before the end of the semester opens up the possibility that teachers will have to combine classrooms or change what they’re teaching subject-wise.  

In the coming weeks, SCS will be sending out a survey to parents asking them whether they will be comfortable with their children participating in face-to-face learning going forward; the responses could determine the school board’s plan for the spring.