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Students Keep Learning as GCS Keeps Leading

Schools may have closed March 16 due to the coronavirus pandemic, but students keep learning while Guilford County Schools (GCS) officials continue to help lead community relief efforts.

During the past two weeks, the district has shifted learning onto a digital platform for 73,000 students and 5,000 teachers, shared more than 100,000 meals and distributed more than 8,400 laptops and tablets so students could access learning remotely.

GCS also has opened three centers to provide care for the school-aged children of Greensboro and High Point hospital workers. The third center opened on Friday at Hunter Elementary in Greensboro. The centers at Irving Park Elementary in Greensboro and Shadybrook Elementary in High Point opened Monday. The centers follow CDC protocols including an 8:1 student-adult ratio, multiple temperature checks and cleaning throughout the day. The centers also have fulltime nurses.

In addition to providing childcare, GCS has delivered meals to homeless students and expanded the number of school-based sites for meal distribution. Currently, GCS is providing meals at 41 school-based sites and 62 satellite meal locations. For the most updated list, please check here.

The district also expanded outdoor hotspots for internet access at school parking lots so students who lack connectivity can quickly download learning materials for use at home later. For the most recent list, which is updated weekly, please check here.

The district’s mass notification system, social media accounts, website and GCSTV provide daily updates, alerting to parents to a wide range of GCS and COVID-19 related messaging. Prior to school closures, the district distributed CDC fliers and information to students and their families. School counselors staffing a 24-hour crisis hotline for students have fielded about 100 calls during the past two weeks, while a call center set-up by the district has responded to more than 1,700 calls from students, staff, parents and community members. Multi-lingual staff members are available to speak to parents in seven world languages in addition to English.

Earlier this week, Guilford Education Alliance announced it is partnering with GCS and Technology for the Future to give refurbished laptops to students. Students get to keep to the laptops, which come with a one-year warranty. Since Monday, GEA has given students more than 1,000 devices.

In addition to leading the coronavirus response efforts for the nation’s 47th largest school district, Superintendent Contreras has hosted media briefings, visited laptop distribution sites, distributed food to students and families with school nutrition staff, checked out the district’s new childcare centers, met with principals multiple times per week online, and weighed in on local, state and federal education policy matters, pending legislation and relief efforts. She also accepted a $125,000 relief grant for expansion of internet connectivity from Chiefs for Change, an organization of state school officers and district leaders, of which she is a member.

We’re educators, this is what we do,” said Sharon Contreras, superintendent. “We know how much our children and families depend on us, and we understand how vital public schools are to the entire community.”

Noting that superintendents nationwide are leading similar efforts, Contreras said that public school leaders have always helped rally community support for children and the community’s most vulnerable residents.

“Not only are we charged with educating students, we’re often one of the largest employers in town and we run operations that are larger than most businesses in the U.S.,” said Contreras. “Public schools impact every member of the community, so it’s not surprising that others look to us for leadership on a wide range of issues. I’m honored to serve and to contribute in anyway that I can, and I know that my colleagues across North Carolina and nationally are as well.”

For more information, visit the district’s COVID-19 response webpage.