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Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools hasn’t heard from about 3,000 students since schools closed

Updated: May. 1, 2020 at 7:12 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) Superintendent Earnest Winston gave an update on how things are going since remote learning started for nearly 150,000 CMS students.

He says for some it has been a challenge.

The concern right now is connecting with the roughly 3,000 students CMS has not heard from since schools closed in March because of COVID-19. The district’s assignment is to have crews reach out to them.

“They are in a very safe way keeping social distancing in mind,” Winston said. “They are making house visits to student to see what’s going on.”

Another concern is there are about 300 CMS students who lack technology. They cannot participate in online learning.

The district did say it has distributed around 90,000 devices to students in the 4th through 12th grade. The superintendent has a message for those who lack resources.

“If families of students need devices. If they need to be connected, please let your teacher - let your principal know so that we can make sure we get them out,” Winston said.

While the district wants to end the year connecting with all students - it also wants to end the year with high school graduations.

CMS leaders say closure needs to happen for students and that means holding graduations. A task force has met and heard some suggestions.

“Anything from having graduations, looking at doing homerooms in high schools - all the way to football fields to Panthers Stadium to complete virtual and coming back around from the end of summer to the middle of next year and doing something of a gathering with seniors,” CMS Deputy Superintendent Matt Hayes said.

Leaders say recommendations will be sent to the superintendent soon. CMS also says it is also thinking about what to do for 8th grade graduations.

Winston says when it comes to teaching and learning in his house, he says his wife does a lot and he also helps with the assignments. He knows this is a challenge for parents and he has reminded teachers of that.

“What we’ve asked our teachers to do, our staff to do, is give our families some grace,” the superintendent said.

The school district is preparing for a rough academic year next fall. The learning gap could be wide since students missed out on much teaching and learning.

The district is brainstorming to come up with a system to help students who will start the school year behind.

“How do we create a system that supports all kids,” Hayes said. “No matter where they are and lift those students up to a grade level material.”

Friday, the superintendent also responded to Mecklenburg County Manager Dena Diorio’s $1.9 billion budget recommendation. She recommends to give CMS less than what the district requested. Winston responded if the county manager’s budget gets approved.

“We’ll continue to prioritize,” the superintendent said. “We’ll have lots of critical conversations and go from there.”

Winston told reporters he is unsure what next school year will look like, but he says safety will be the top priority. He says there will be a re-entry committee formed to present best practices for students and staff to come back to the classrooms.

The superintendent did suggest students could attend school in shifts.

As the school year comes to an end, CMS leaders are trying to improve the remote learning.

“Trying to get as personable as we can per each child in this opportunity of learning.” Hayes said.

The superintendent also stated May 1 was school lunch hero day. Winston said the district reached serving its one millionth meal since schools closed in March.

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