Frequently Asked Questions
NHCS is monitoring and will take into account changes in health trends, state and federal guidance, and input from staff and parents in planning for the 2020-2021 school year. The district is thoughtfully and deliberately creating new health protocols, new student and family supports, and new instructional strategies to deliver meaningful educational experiences in this unprecedented pandemic environment.
We hear your requests for information that you need to make informed decisions for your family. We’re working hard to provide that information as quickly as possible.
Q: What is New Hanover County Schools opening plan under Plan B?
A: Plan B calls for moderate social distancing. Under Plan B in New Hanover County Schools:
All Pre-K-12 students will attend face-to-face instruction on an alternating three-week schedule.
Students will be assigned to groups (1, 2 or 3). Siblings will be in the same groups. Groups will attend school in an ongoing rotation by attending school in person for one week and receiving online instruction for two weeks.
The district recognizes there some students with global delays who, by the nature of their disabling condition, have not demonstrated the capacity to gain meaning from remote learning models. For these students, expanded in-person services may be offered.
English learners (newcomers) in their first 2 years of instruction will attend daily.
A full K-12 school-based virtual academy through the student's home school will be provided for families who selected home learning for their student.
Q: What is NHCS doing to prepare for school opening?
A: The health and safety of our students and staff are our top priority. Operations, health work groups made up of teachers, principals, administrators, and health professionals are establishing protocols related to health screening on buses and at schools,
social distancing and traffic flow in buildings, meal service, cleaning and disinfecting
procedures, and more.
Equally important is the delivery of challenging and engaging remote and face-to-face learning experiences for all students. A teaching and learning work group made up of those same stakeholders is establishing instruction and device deployment plans to provide access and support for all students in all learning environments.
When schools open, remote learning will be provided through school based virtual academies. Details and an application will be available soon. In the long term, the district will be working on an application to establish a virtual school, a process which could take six to 12 months.
Q: When is the Board of Education meeting to discuss school opening plans?
A; The Board of Education is holding an Interim Board Meeting on July 28 at 5:30 p.m.to discuss school opening. The agenda for that meeting will be available at www.nhcs.net/Board of Education/Board Meetings and Agendas on July 22.
Q: How can families have input on school opening decisions?
A: In the next week, the district will be providing staff and families with a guide to school opening and a school based survey for families to communicate their decisions regarding the return to school in August. This survey allows families to communicate directly with their school. Survey participation is vital to the district’s efforts to plan effectively for the coming year and we urge all families to participate.
Q: Will demos and tutorials be provided for teachers, parents, and students?
A: The district is producing videos to help families become familiar with what the school year will look like under Plan B. Currently, videos are posted at www.nhcs.net from operations, transportation, communications, and student support. Additional videos and tutorials will be produced as information becomes available.
Academic Instruction & Digital Learning
Q:What is the difference between the NHCS Virtual Academy and remote instruction under Plan B and C?
A: Remote Instruction under Plan C if enacted, would operate parallel to the NHCS Virtual Academy. All instruction would be delivered virtually and standards aligned, as in the Virtual Academy. In grades K-5, teachers would primarily deliver instruction using either SeeSaw and/or Google Classroom as the learning management system in Plan C. In the Virtual Academy the platform would be different.
In grades 6-12 there would be less distinction in that the learning management systems which are Google Classroom in grades 6-8 and Canvas in grades 9-12 would allow for the importing and personalization of most courses in a very similar way in the Virtual Academy and under Plan C.
Q: Will demos and tutorials be provided for parents who are interested in virtual learning?
A: Training will be provided for parents so that they understand the expectations around virtual learning and the tools their child will be using.
Q: Will Schools have an Open House this year? If so, what will that look like?
A: Schools are working to personalize these experiences at each school so it will look very different this year.
Q: Is it mandatory for my school age child to be enrolled and attend school regularly, as available, when the school year begins, during this COVID-19 season?
A: Yes, NC law requires that a child be enrolled in school. Students may be enrolled in private, public or or homeschools.
Q: Is remote learning the same as homeschooling?
A: No, a student engaged in remote learning is a NHCS student and enrolled with the school system. A homeschooled student is not.
Q: What support systems are in place for students being redistricted to new schools?
A: Principals are reaching out to new and returning families. Schools have held virtual town hall meetings, tours, and welcome events with families through zoom and other online platforms. The district launched #NHCSWhosWho on social media to give families an opportunity to become familiar with principals and educators in their schools.
Q: If I choose to keep my children at home and work online, is that an option?
A: Yes, all students will have the option of attending our school based Virtual Academies if they are not ready or able to return to a school campus.
Q: What is the process for withdrawing a student from their school?
A: To withdraw a student from an assigned school, families should contact the data manager at that student’s assigned school.
Q:What is the difference between school-based virtual academies and a virtual school?
A: When schools open in August, full K-12 school-based virtual academies through the student's home school will be provided for families who selected home learning for their student under Plan B. Aspects of virtual academies are standardized and, just as teachers personalize classroom instruction, teachers can personalize school based Virtual Academy instruction based on the needs of their students.
The district will be working on an application for a virtual school. The process to establish a virtual school for the district can take six to 12 months.
Q:There is an application process for the school-based virtual academies. Does this mean that families can apply and not get in?
A: All students will have the option of attending our school based Virtual Academies if they are not ready or able to return to a school campus.
Q: What time commitment is required for school-based virtual academies?
A: If selected, students in grades pre-k-8 will be asked to commit to this option for at least 9 weeks and students in grades 9-12 will be asked to commit for at least one semester. Instruction at this time is planned to be primarily asynchronous (DEFINITION).
Q: How will teachers and students be assigned to classes? Will they “change” classes with different subjects?
A: Student schedules will be determined at the school level. There are many factors that will determine schedules such as student enrollment, subject, and teacher availability.
Q: Will ‘live’ classes be available? Will the classes that are being conducted on-site and in person be streamed and accessible to online students?
A: The majority of instruction will be delivered asynchronously (DEFINE) with opportunities for synchronous lessons and activities.
Q: Will the curriculum be available in advance so students who need extra instruction can do extra work to support troublesome areas?
A: Teachers will determine the pacing of instruction and could make it available for preview.
Q: How are tests and grading handled?
A: Current district policies regarding grading will be followed. Additionally, teachers will share specifics with students and families regarding classroom grading procedures and expectations.
Q: What additional support is available for students who are falling behind and how will we access that support in an online-only environment?
A: Schools will develop plans to provide interventions for students who need additional support.
Q: What is the timeline committed to for online only instruction?
A: Students in elementary and middle grades are asked to commit for at least a 9 week period and high school students are asked to commit for a semester.
Q: What will the schedule be for in-person/ face to face instruction?
A: All Pre-K-12 students will attend face to face instruction on an alternating three-week schedule. Students will be assigned to groups (1, 2 or 3). Siblings will be in the same groups. Groups will attend school in an ongoing rotation by attending school in person for one week and receiving online instruction for two weeks. The district recognizes that there are some special education students for whom remote learning provides additional challenges. For those students, services will continue to be provided daily in the school building. Additionally, English Learners (New Comers) in year 2 or less will attend daily. Full K-12 Virtual School Option will be provided for families who selected home learning for their student.
Q: What is the difference between the NHCS Virtual Academy and state and NHCS Virtual Schools?
A: The NHCS Virtual Academy is a fully online K-12 school based option that allows a student to maintain membership at his/her face to face school, the majority of the learning is self-paced with few live synchronous sessions. Access is provided to standards-based curriculum and instruction. Students are taught by a NHCS teacher that will likely be a teacher from there school. The NHCS Virtual School is also a fully online K-12 option taught by New Hanover County School teachers. It, however, is not school-based. Students in membership at the NHCS Virtual School are students from across the district. There are more opportunities for live synchronous instruction.
Q:When will the NHCS Virtual Academy application be available?
A: The application should go live either today (7-23-2020) or tomorrow (7-24-2020).
Q: Is there a limit to Virtual Academy enrollment? Will there be a need for a wait list?
A: No; No
Q: Will Isaac Bear and WECHS students operate on the same schedule and requirements as their partner colleges?
A: Schools will follow the NHCS calendar for their respective school at this time and students enrolled in college and University courses will follow the guidance provided by the college and or university.
Q:What do plans and learning options mean for dual enrollment students?
A: Student who are enrolled in CFCC will need to follow the direction of college regarding attendance, grading and learning expectations.
Q: How does Plan B impact students in the IB Program at Hoggard?
A: Students in IB would adhere to the same schedule as all other student who are not exempted from the 3 week rotation. Teachers in the course would work to transition there course to a remote learning/face to face model.
Q:What information can be provided for students attending non traditional high schools?
A: Principals are probably the best source for specific questions regarding non-traditional high schools.
Q:Students in Plan B do not have to attend class in-person during their week, but can continue remote learning that week instead?
A: Students who are not in their week of face to face would be engaged in two weeks of remote learning, unless they are in the full time face to face group.
Q: Was there ever a survey directly specifically at students to get their feedback on what worked and didn’t work during the spring semester and things they would like to see and do in remote learning?
A: The Remote Learning parent survey that went out at the beginning of June ask for parent feedback as well as student feedback on the implementation of remote learning last school year.
Q: Is the Plan C remote learning curriculum district-wide but graded by your school’s teachers?
A: Teachers are responsible for design and delivery of remote learning while in Plan C. The design and delivery should be based upon the district curriculum.
Q: Will students attending schools that have unique offerings (IB, AP, Mandarin, Latin, German, Heritage Spanish, Conexiones) be able to take these offerings under Plan B and Plan C since the curriculum is not school-specific?
A: Schools are working to determine how these courses will be delivered.
Q:Is it possible to select Plan B to have teacher based pacing but do remote learning 100% of the time since self pacing through the virtual academy would not be appropriate for my children? In other words, a student would not go to school on the week they are assigned to attend in person?
A: No, students would need to either be enrolled in plan be or NHCS virtual academy.
Q: Under Plan B, will my child’s face to face teacher be teaching them on remote weeks?
A: Schedules have not been finalized but there is a possibility that the face to face teacher is different from the teacher delivering remote learning.
Q: What platform will teachers be using to deliver synchronous learning?
A: Teachers have been approved to use Zoom or Google Meet.
Q: Will students still have music, PE, art, and media?
A: It is the goal to provide these courses.
Q:Will students be pulled out for supplemental services? (ie AIG, resources, MTSS,Speech, OT etc)
A: There is no plan to eliminate these services.
Q: Will students have recess daily?
A: Schools are working to create schedules that would allow for daily recess.
Q: Will attendance be taken daily?
A: Attendance will be taken but there are non traditional options by which to do this in the virtual academies such tracking logins and work completion.
Q: Will students be given grades for remote and virtual instruction?
A: Students will receive grades in accordance with district policies.
Q: What does Plan B and C remote instruction look like?
A: This of course will vary by grade level and course but for the most part it will be teacher designed and delivered either face to face or remotely by way of the district selected learning management systems.
Q: Will a student’s teachers change if the student changes plans after nine weeks?
A: It is likely the teacher will change.
Q: Will the school day be shorter than normal?
A: Schools are currently scheduled to operate on a full day schedule.
Q: If the district opts for remote learning only, what type of accountability will be enforced to ensure students are engaged and not checked out because “grades don’t count?”
A: All district grading policies are enforce.
Q: Will each school be required to use the same virtual learning platforms as the district or will schools have personalized apps?
A: The district has identified specific learning management systems by grade level and/or grade span. Seesaw in Pre-K through 2nd grade. 3rd grade will begin with SeeSaw and transition to Google Classroom. Grades 4-8 will use Google Classroom and High School will utilize Canvas.
Q: Will educators be required to teach simultaneously students in the classroom as well as the two groups of students learning virtually?
A:Principals are working to develop schedules that meet both the needs of students and represent reasonable workloads for teachers. Teachers being responsible for three different groups of students across two different instructional environments is not the expected norm.
Q: Will each school decide how remote learning will look vs there being a district wide guideline?
A:Schools are expected to be in compliance with the district remote learning plan.
Q: Will students be evaluated and receive grades with virtual learning?
A: All district grading policies are enforced.
Q: Will students in elementary have multiple teachers?
A: There is the possibility of multiple teachers for elementary students.
Q: Will students still be able to participate in internships?
A: This is still being evaluated.
Q: What will remote learning look like for students who are in the face to face/ in person learning rotation?
A: This of course will vary by grade level and course but for the most part it will look like traditional instruction in the lower grades and blended learning and middle school and high school.
Q: What services will be provided to students who require additional help and assistance on assignments while they are in remote learning weeks?
A: Opportunities for tutoring and reteaching will exist in the remote learning environment as well.
Q: What is the difference between students selecting the virtual learning academies vs. North Carolina Virtual Public School courses?
A: Virtual learning academies are learning options managed by the district and North Carolina Virtual Public School courses (NCVPS) are courses made available by the state. Enrollment in NCVPS is coordinated by the district and there may be limits on what courses are made available.
Q: Will the classes my child registered for at their high school in the spring be available as virtual learning classes ?
A: The district is making every effort to make available all courses but there will be some courses that are not available.
Q: What is the deadline for signing up for the virtual academy?
A: A deadline has not been given at this time but we encourage parents to do it as quickly as possible to teacher assignments can be made.
Q: Will there be teacher input on designing the virtual academies?
A: Decisions regarding the NHCS Virtual Academies will be primarily district based but do take into account feedback received from both parents and teachers from the remote learning experience this spring. Teachers will have greater autonomy in the design of remote learning guided by the district’s remote learning plan.
Q: If a family chooses to participate in 100% virtual instruction, but later decide they want to place their child in face to face/in person instruction, will they be allowed to do so? If so, what are the steps they need to take to do this?
A: Yes. Parents should notify their child’s principal prior to the end of the 9 weeks (elementary and middle) and semester (high school).
Q: What is the difference between the virtual academy, virtual instruction and remote instruction?
A: The Virtual Academy is an enrollment option that is provided to parents. Virtual instruction speaks specifically to how the instruction and learning will take place. Remote instruction means that the instruction occurs somewhere other than the face to face classroom.
Q: Will laptops be distributed for any remote learning that many occur?
A: Yes, the NHCS Technology Division is currently imaging and sanitizing all electronic devices for deployment as needed.
Q: What if I do not have internet access?
A: Hotspots will be provided to students without internet access. The Technology Division is developing a list of drive-up Wi-Fi access zones near schools and in the community. In addition, NHCS-TV may offer instructional lessons through our cable channel on Spectrum Channel 5.
Q: What learning platform will be used?
A: The learning management system (LMS) for elementary will be Seesaw in grades K-2, with third-grade students transitioning to Google Classroom through grade 8 and Canvas in High School. High Schools will have a semester to transition to Canvas from what the LMS that they have been using. There however will be third party software used as base course shells from which content may be developed.
Q: Does every student need their own laptop? Can siblings share?
A: It is recommended that each student participating the virtual academy and remote learning have their own device
Q:What if I didn’t return my device last spring? -
A: Any student who has a device still checked out from the spring will not be able to check out a device or hotspot this year until the device is returned.
Q: When and where can I check out a laptop?
A: Each school will be schedule their device check out
Teachers and Staffing
Q: What is the plan to cover instruction if a teacher is unavailable for an online-only session for an extended time (covid exposure or diagnosis)?
A: Schools will develop specific plans for coverage and/or use substitutes who have been specifically trained to deliver instruction.
Q: Will there be air filters in each room?
A: Social distancing, face masks, and hand sanitizer will be implemented in addition to thorough disinfecting in the classrooms to help reduce the chance of COVID-19 in the classrooms. Students will undergo a health screening prior to entering the buildings. We are also working with various schools and HVAC technicians to ensure clean air is circulated throughout our buildings and will be increasing the times air is circulated each hour throughout the rooms.
Q: How many students will be allowed on a bus at the same time and where will they sit in relations to one another?
A: Under social distancing guidelines, the district will be able to fit 24 students on a school bus.
Q: Are the school buses air conditioned?
Student Support Services & Health and Safety
Q: Will students and staff have to wear face coverings?
A: Yes, all adults and K-12 students will be required to wear face coverings.
Q: How will custodians clean the classrooms and halls to ensure everyone is safe?
A: Custodians will be using CDC recommended disinfecting sprays and other cleaners to spray/wipe down surfaces throughout the entire day. They will also be vacuuming, sweeping, mopping, and thoroughly cleaning all hallways, bathrooms, classrooms, and common areas.
Q: What will social distancing look like in the hallways and common areas?
A: There will be signs and markings to indicate how to proceed through hallways. Students will be required to remain six feet apart.
Q: If I select the three-week rotation of remote and in-person instruction for my student and later feel it is not the best fit for my child, can my child transition to the school-based virtual academy?
A: If health concerns arise for a student, families will be able to transition their child to the virtual academy.
Q: How can we withdraw if we opt to homeschool for the year? What are the impacts of withdrawing as we are currently not districted for the school we attend?
A: You are able to withdraw by contacting enrollment specialist Denise Angevine regarding the impact on attending a school that is your district assigned school.
Q: My son has an IEP and needs his speech therapy. Will that be provided through zoom if we go remote?
A: Zoom or some other virtual platform. At present, all related services will be provided virtually during remote instruction. If the district changes this model, information will be provided at that time.
Q: Will all students with an IEP be able to have expanded in-person schooling under Plan B?
A: No. Under Plan B, all students, including special education students, will attend school on a three-week rotation with one week of in-person learning, followed by two-weeks of remote learning.If feasible, the district will provide expanded learning opportunities to those students currently assigned to Specially Designed Academics classrooms or the Intensive Social Communication Supports 2 (K-8) program. Students assigned to these programs have substantial developmental, communication, and behavioral delays that create unique barriers to remote instruction.
Q:Who will decide which students with IEPs will receive more than one week of in-person services?
A: First and foremost is the health and safety of students and staff through the implementation of all recommended safety protocols. We continue to gather information about staffing and other logistical factors in order to determine our ability to offer these expanded in-person services. At present, the district is hoping to expand in-person instruction to those students currently assigned in Specially Designed Academics classrooms and the Intensive Social Communication Support-2 program. If at any time it becomes possible to expand daily instruction to other special education students, further information will be provided at that time.
Q: For the two-weeks of remote instruction, is synchronous learning expected, or is asynchronous allowed?
A:For students who receive direct services through an IEP, they will receive synchronous learning as part of their remote instruction. Other modalities of instruction will also be provided, including taped lessons or other nonsynchronous activities, packets of materials, etc. Parents, guardians, or other care givers will be provided training in assisting their student with their learning, as appropriate. Inclusion classes will continue to be co-taught by both a regular education and a special education teacher. Instructional assistants will be utilized to provide support, accommodations, and modifications, and opportunities for synchronous activities based on material that has already been presented by the classroom teacher.
Q: How will face coverings work for students and educators in EC classrooms?
A: Students with disabilities may require modifications to the general health guidelines, including masks, in order to provide required services and maintain healthy practices. Masks are not required for individuals who cannot tolerate a face covering due to developmental, medical, or behavioral health needs. For special education students who meet this criteria, other measures may be taken to maintain safety for both our staff and our students. We are committed to working closely with students and their families to address individual concerns and needs.
Q: If I enroll my child in the Virtual Academy, will my child lose their place at their current school?
A: No.Students will maintain their enrollment at their current school. Children who enroll in the virtual academy remain enrolled in their district school or the school that they have been assigned to.
Q: Was there ever a Board of Education discussion and vote about choosing the Governor’s Plan C instead of Plan B?
A: The Board of Education will discuss Governor Cooper’s recommendation to open schools under Plan B, and the option available to school districts to open under the more restrictive Plan C, at the July 28 Interim Board meeting. The meeting will be held at 5:30 p.m. at the Board of Education Center. There will be no Call to the Audience or opportunity for public input.
In practice with safe social distancing guidelines recommended by the CDC, attendance at all meetings of the NHCS BOE is currently strictly limited to no more than 10 people. The general public will have the option to view remotely via live streaming on Roku, Apple TV, and online at NHCS-TV.
Q:Will our new superintendent have a chance to weigh in on the back-to-school plans?
A: Depending on future health data trends and federal, state, and local requirements and recommendations regarding school operations and the health and safety of staff and students, it is likely that decisions regarding Plans A, B, and C will continue to be required of school district leadership in NHCS and across North Carolina for the foreseeable future.
Q: Are surveys and family guides available in Spanish?