Education News Briefs

Posted 11/19/20

Education Briefs: Week of Nov. 19

Chatham County Schools increasing internet access with bus Wi-Fi

PITTSBORO — Chatham County Schools has equipped 42 Chatham County Schools buses with Wi-Fi …

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Education News Briefs

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Education Briefs: Week of Nov. 19

Chatham County Schools increasing internet access with bus Wi-Fi

PITTSBORO — Chatham County Schools has equipped 42 Chatham County Schools buses with Wi-Fi to help families with connectivity issues. The buses have an orange sticker with the Wi-Fi symbol near the door. Students who ride these buses will be able to access the internet safely and securely while riding to and from school. For additional internet access, some of the buses during the day will be parked at various locations in the community. Locations and service times will be communicated at the school level. Students’ Chromebooks have been updated, so their devices will connect automatically when the signal is available.

The district has provided hotspot devices to all families who made a request. The school system deployed more than 1,800 hotspot devices. Those needing a hotspot may reach out at the school level or submit a request by clicking here.

The school system continues to emphasize the importance of the 3 Ws — washing hands for 20 seconds throughout the day; waiting six feet from others; and wearing a face covering.
- Chatham County Schools

CCS COVID-19 Tracker

Prior to partially reopening under Plan B on Oct. 19, Chatham County School administration emphasized a commitment to transparency in its handling of COVID-19 cases.

The result is a COVID-19 Tracking dashboard, available on the district’s site, which was published last month around the time some schools reopened but tracks data from Aug. 17, the first day of school.

According to the tracker, since Aug. 17, there have been 17 positive cases of the coronavirus among staff and seven positive cases among students, with 3 new positive cases for students and 1 for staff in the last two weeks. The highest number of cases at any school is 4 staff cases at Chatham Central, though its unclear if those cases are connected or occurred in the same exposure period. The district has not reported any clusters, or a grouping of five or more cases thought to be connected based on common exposure points.

It’s important to note that this data does not necessarily mean COVID-19 is being spread at school, but rather that school community members are testing positive for COVID-19. As health officials have advised the CCS Board of Education, there will be cases of COVID-19 present in the school — what matters is that those cases do not lead to more cases. The district has said it will be forthcoming of any clusters or outbreaks should they occur.

“It is about data. But it’s not just about data,” Chatham County Public Health Department’s Interim Health Director Mike Zelek told the BOE at its Nov. 9 meeting. “It’s about how well schools can consistently and correctly implement the guidance that they’ve laid out, and I know we’ve been working with them for several months now to fine tune that guidance that comes from the state and the CDC.”

N.C.’s newly elected Superintendent of Public Schools

Republican Catherine Truitt was elected superintendent of the state’s K-12 public schools on Election Day, receiving 51.4% of the vote in her first run for office. She ran against Democrat Jen Mangrum, who received 48.6% of the vote.

Current superintendent Mark Johnson, a Republican, was not on the ballot after making an unsuccessful primary run for lieutnant governor. He’s held the job for the last four years.

While the superintendent position doesn’t yield a lot of official power, the job can influence the state Board of Education, the General Assembly and the governor — as well as their decisions about public education. Truitt, a former teacher who is chancellor of the online Western Governors University North Carolina, will step in as state decision-makers continue to make important calls regarding COVID-19, equity and literacy. Her priorities, as listed on her website, include having a “highly qualified teacher” in every NC classroom, pushing for research-based early literacy strategies and expanding the collaboration between public schools and “four-year colleges, community colleges, the business community, hospitals, local workforce boards and IT centers.”

In September, Truitt spoke at a news conference with Republican Senate leader Phil Berger and Lt. Gov. Dan Forest urging Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat who successfully ran for reelection, to give parents the option of in-person, full-time school.

“All students need and deserve a quality education experience this Fall,” her website reads regarding reopening schools. “North Carolina has 100 counties, 115 school systems, and hundred of public charter schools. A one-size-fits-all approach won’t work for our schools and our students.”


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