Reaching Avery Ministries delivers food on school buses

The Avery County School system continues to deliver food to students during the statewide school shutdown. Reaching Avery Ministries has been delivering additional food to families in need. Pictured from left: Jenny Brewer, Summer Watson, Tina Stamey, Allison Phillips, Pamela Benfield and Bella Samuelson.

NEWLAND — In light of the current school closures related to COVID-19, seniors at high schools across the state can expect to graduate thanks to changes made by the North Carolina Board of Education.

According to the Department of Public Instruction, high school seniors can expect to graduate based on whether or not they were passing or failing their classes on Friday, March 13. If a student happens to be failing, they will be provided remote learning opportunities by their local school districts in order for them to improve to a passing grade.

These remote learning opportunities include virtual instructions, credit recovery and locally developed assessments aligned with instruction topics covered before March 13.

Avery County Schools Superintendent Dr. Dan Brigman says that school system is adjusting accordingly as plans develop at the state level and filter down to local school districts.

“We’re going to strive to make sure that our graduating seniors receive the support necessary to fulfill their obligations and successfully access their credits,” Brigman said.

Additionally, end-of-course assessments have been suspended through June 30, 2020. The EOC policy requires students’ grades to include at least 20 percent of the end-of-course tests score, but since these tests will not be available the requirement has been waived.

Students in all grade levels are not currently receiving any new learning material. The take-home packets that were sent out on Wednesday, March 18, only include course material that was previously covered during the semester before classes were canceled on March 16.

For students in grades kindergarten through 11, their grades will not be negatively impacted if the critical factors as defined by the Department of Public Instruction are not met. These factors include the accessibility of remote learning for all students, consistent communication between teachers and students, evidence of student learning, appropriate standards of instruction and the home learning environment of the child.

North Carolina schools will remain closed until May 15. In the meantime, Avery County Schools continues to deliver food to its students via its bus routes. The school system will maintain its current academic calendar, recognizing Good Friday and Spring Break. It will then resume its support operations on April 20. Staff will continue to be paid for work with documentation.

Career and Technical Education Director Ellis Ayers is currently developing “curriculum teams” for each grade level or subject area to distribute workloads and to develop system resources for staff.

“The meal process has gone very well. We continue to see growth every day in terms of the number of meals prepared and distributed. It’s all giving us an opportunity to stay in contact with students and their families. [Teachers] are trying to make a minimum of two calls to the homes of students and their families per week,” Brigman said. “We just really appreciate all of our external organizations in terms of the feeding program and the volunteers helping us in these processes. We’re just so grateful to have an outpouring of support from the community and these organizations.”

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