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A little over 2,300 students in the Wilkes County Schools signed up to spend each school day in the first nine-week quarter engaged in remote learning, said Wilkes School Superintendent Mark Byrd.

That’s about 25% of the Wilkes School District’s enrollment. The deadline for students to choose that option was July 31.

Gov. Roy Cooper gave school districts the choice of starting the 2020-21 school year with a combination of students learning both remotely and in the classroom (Plan B) or entirely remotely (Plan C). Cooper said students in districts that chose Plan B, which included Wilkes, still had to be given the option of learning entirely remotely.

Students in the Wilkes schools who didn’t opt for remote learning each day will be divided into two groups in their schools. One group will learn in their classrooms while the other learns remotely at home on Mondays. On Tuesdays, they’ll switch and then continue with this alternating pattern.

According to the Wilkes School District website, students engaged in remote learning each day will have the same expectations as those students enrolled under Plan B.

Dr. Donna Cotton, chief academic officer for the Wilkes schools, said students with remote learning each day must be committed to this at least for the first nine-week quarter of the school year, but students can start the quarter alternating between remote and in-person and switch to remote learning each day.

Unlike grading when the Wilkes schools and school districts across the state used 100% remote learning for the last 2 ½ months of the 2019-20 school year, there will be no "pass" or "withdrawal" grading options in the 2020-21 school year.

Cotton said students with remote learning each day must meet the same daily attendance requirements as students alternating between remote and in-person. This may include direct contact with the teacher (phone, email, video conferencing), participation in the class through a live meeting, turning in assignments or other demonstrations of attendance.

Cotton said students with remote learning each day are required to return to campus to take all state-mandated tests in a testing environment that follows all safety and health protocols outlined by the state. Other tests may be taken remotely.

They will be given assignments with due dates for the same/similar work as students in Plan B and their work will be graded. They will receive direct instruction from a live teacher presentation via computer or a recording.

Cotton said they may return to in-person learning (each day or every other day, depending on which one is available then) after the first quarter ends. If a student does so, he or she may be assigned to a different teacher.

She said students and/or parents must communicate with their school to obtain any assigned laptops, as well as make plans for pick-up/delivery of assignments.

Parents must monitor their student’s progress to certify they are on track with all assignments and participation requirements of each course, said Cotton.

Applications for the remote learning each day option and other information about plans for the new school year were on the Wilkes School District website.

All Wilkes schools except the Wilkes Early College High School, and most other schools across the state, start classes on Aug. 17. Wilkes Early College High School starts on Aug. 12 to coincide with Wilkes Community College.

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