Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools announced a number of decisions on grading and coursework for the 55,000 students in the district, the biggest of which concerns the Class of 2020.
The district’s board of education voted Tuesday to waive local graduation requirements, meaning that seniors who have met the state’s minimum of 22 credits by April 27 will be finished with their high school careers.
Teachers will continue to work with students who want support with Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate courses and students who still need to fulfill requirements through e-learning.
A decision has not been made on graduation ceremonies, according to Brent Campbell, a district spokesman. Commencements are scheduled for June 12-13.
“We definitely hope that we can celebrate these students in a way that they deserve and in the traditional way,” Campbell said. “If not, we’ll ask students for ideas and look at uncommon and nontraditional ways to celebrate them.”
The school district has about 3,700 seniors.
For Hailey Jones, a senior at Mount Tabor High School, e-learning continues. The N.C. State-bound student takes five AP classes, and she is determined to do well. AP tests, usually a grueling four-hour ordeal, have been reduced to 45-minute online tests, according to the College Board, which administers the tests.
Hailey said she is coming to grips that her high school career is finishing on such a note. She called it “mind-blowing.”
“I’ve accepted that senior prom, senior picnics and senior activities are done,” she said. “I just really want to walk across that stage. I’ve joked that even if I have to wear a hazmat suit, I want to walk across the stage.”
In a letter to high school seniors, Superintendent Angela Hairston acknowledged all that they have lost during the school shutdown, which began on March 16 and was extended to May 15 by Gov. Roy Cooper.
“Sadly, the ending of this chapter has been rather dim, but as Dr. Maya Angelou said, ‘Nothing can dim the light that shines within,’” Hairston wrote to seniors. “I believe that about the Class of 2020.”
For spring courses, seniors will be given passing or failing grades or they can choose to withdraw.
The school system made its decision based on guidance from the N.C. Department of Instruction.
For students in lower grades, March 13 will serve as the end of the third quarter.
Students will have until April 11 to submit missing assignments for third quarter work.
Grades from that quarter — for students in grades 3-11 — will be posted April 24. Teachers will consider online work and evidence of student understanding to assign those grades.
According to a statement from the district, “K-2 teachers will provide grades and comments only for those standards that were thoroughly taught by March 13 and assessment data is available.”
Fourth-quarter online learning “will continue based on the essential learning necessary for students to be prepared for the next grade level,” the school system said.
The local district is waiting to hear from the state on whether letter grades will be given to students during the fourth quarter, Nicolette Grant, the district’s chief academic officer, told the school board at its work session Tuesday.
Teachers will record complete and incomplete work while giving students opportunities to show they have mastered subjects. Grades will focus on supporting students, not penalizing them, Grant said.
Also at the work session, chief technology officer Kevin Sherrill told the board that the district has distributed nearly 23,000 Chromebooks, 2,400 iPads and 3,300 internet hotspots to students.
A technology services desk is staffed with 20 employees who answer about 400 calls each day.
Beginning Friday, school is out of session for spring break until April 20.