Help on the way for failing Union County Public Schools students

Updated: Feb. 12, 2021 at 11:17 AM EST
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UNION COUNTY, N.C. (WBTV) - Failing Union County Public Schools students are set to receive additional learning resources during the pandemic.

The UCPS school board held an emergency meeting Thursday night and presented data that showed how the pandemic has negatively affected learning. More students appeared to be failing at least one class, and a higher number of students were considered to be reading below grade-level.

The board voted 7-0 Thursday to use $400,000 of CARES ACT money to pay teachers and teachers assistants to tutor students outside of class. The money will also be used to purchase more instructional resources and hire additional tutors.

“We have a high sense of urgency to provide some additional resources to our schools to help them out with COVID learning loss,” a school board member said.

In the first semester of the current school year, 22-percent of 3rd through 12th graders were failing more than one class. Data shows this is more than double the number of students failing more than one class during the same time of the previous year.

Forty-one percent of students in grades K-2 are at either a level 1 or level 2 reading level, data shows. Level 1 is considered to be the lowest while level 5 is the highest. Levels 1 and 2 are considered “at risk” because the students aren’t considered to be reading at grade level.

At the same during the previous school year, thirty-five percent of students were considered to be at a level 1 or 2 level of reading.

Rachel Viers has five children within Union County Public Schools. She says all of her children are learning partially remote.

“Samuel has always loved school, but working remotely has really somewhat taken his joy,” Viers said. “Elijah used to do really good. Have good grades, but pretty much is failing 8th grade.”

She says the additional tutoring is a step, but in-person learning is the solution.

“I think sure, that could help, but I think our kids really need to be in school,” Viers said.

In a tweet, Union County Public Schools superintendent Andrew G. Houlihan thanked the board for approving additional intervention funding for schools. “We all have a sense of urgency and will do whatever it takes,” Houlihan tweeted.

“It has to stop. We’ve got to get these kids back in school,” a board member said.

The CDC is expected to release further guidance on it’s recommendation for reopening schools. Gov. Cooper and Superintendent Catherine Truitt are urging school districts across North Carolina to reopen for in-person instruction.

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