May 20, 2020

Message to All Members of our NCSU School-Community,

It is hard to believe we’ve now endured two months of school being closed and all the adjustments to remote learning. We appreciate the challenge this has been for students, parents, and staff. We also know it is generally hard for all of us to remain focused this time of year as the weather becomes nice and we approach summer break. …as we’ve said from the beginning, all we can ask is that everyone truly does their best!

End of The Year: As originally directed by the Secretary of Education, we have planned to follow our school calendar, including making up snow days and other cancelations. It appears now that some waivers have been granted to school districts and I will discuss several considerations with the NCSU Executive Committee this Thursday evening. So, stay tuned to possible minor adjustments to the actual end of the year dates for students and staff. …don’t worry, we won’t be adding any days!

End of the Year Celebrations & Graduation: Please know that we share the disappointment of many regarding our inability to conduct traditional end of the year celebrations and graduation ceremonies. The guidance provided by the Agency of Education places very specific restrictions on what we can and cannot do - including situations where schools may have “drive-in” or “drive-through” ceremonies. I know our principals will work with staff, students and parents to provide the most meaningful experience we can under the circumstances.

Summer: I want parents to know that we are planning on running summer programs. Although we will need to adhere to strict guidelines from State agencies and will have to alter some of our programming options from recent years, we are optimistic we will have engaging programs in place for students. You should anticipate information and registration forms coming from schools in the near future. We are also in the process of considering extending our meals programs through part of the summer. Please complete any surveys provided by schools as they will help us determine the interest of families. As you can imagine, there are a number of logistics to consider and we hope to have a decision regarding summer meals in the next week or so.

Next Fall: I know there are many questions regarding how we will begin the school year. At this point in time, we do not have clear guidance from the Agency of Education on what school will look like in the fall. We remain optimistic, given the public health information that we are receiving, that we will return to school in late August as scheduled. Nonetheless, we should all anticipate there will be many challenges to navigate that will make the start of the school year far from normal. It is reasonable to think we may still need to utilize elements of remote learning next year, depending on the development of the virus across the State and our region. We recognize the level of ambiguity over the next couple of months is likely to be more than we’d like. We can assure you we are working with all the necessary agencies and state authorities to ensure we provide a safe, healthy and productive learning environment for students and staff. I am very appreciative of how our school-community has stepped up this spring and have no doubt we will do so again through the summer and next year in the interest of supporting our students. We will continue to provide updates from the supervisory union and individual schools.

I hope that folks can find time to enjoy the nice weather - when you are not in school! …and, enjoy the upcoming long weekend.

Be well!

John A. Castle

NCSU Superintendent of Schools

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