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Schools open hotline, prepare for remote learning in Winston-Salem/Forsyth
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Schools open hotline, prepare for remote learning in Winston-Salem/Forsyth

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The Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools has announced meal sites, schedules for picking up remote learning devices and has an information hotline for parents to call-in and get information about the system closure, after Gov. Roy Cooper ordered that all schools close for at least two weeks because of COVID-19.

The hotline opened Sunday and will remain open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day during the closure. The number is 336-661-3128. There will be help available in English and Spanish.

“The calls have been helpful to allow us to respond to questions, and reassure parents,” said Angela Hairston, the school system superintendent on Sunday afternoon.

The school system is transitioning to a remote learning environment, at least temporarily.

There were 32 known cases of COVID-19 in North Carolina as of Sunday morning, including two in Forsyth County, according to state health officials.

All school cafeterias will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. beginning Monday for parents to pick-up breakfast and lunch, at the same time. The meals are free for children 18 and under. Adults can buy meals for $1 for breakfast and $2 for lunch.

“We hope parents will pace themselves, so we are not overwhelmed,” Hairston said.

The backpack program, where students are given a backpack with food for weekends, and other times when school is not in session, will continue. Hairston said that she has heard that there are groups who are planning to have community dinners to help.

Brent Campbell, the system’s chief marketing and communications officer, said that later this week the system plans to begin using bus drivers to deliver meals.

Schools will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Wednesday for parents to pick up personal items that were left at school.

For students who need internet service and devices to be able to use for the remote learning, parents should call the hotline or fill out the eLearning Survey and request form on the system’s website by 5 p.m. Monday.

“One of the things that we’ve been getting today are requests for service,” she said.

Families who have requested devices and/or hotspots can pick up the equipment from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday at their child’s school. Kindergarten through second grade students will not be using online learning and there will be literacy activity and resources available for them. The resources should last two weeks.

E-Learning will begin Thursday and students should be prepared for it. They should hear from their teachers through the PowerSchool Learning Management System.

For students who live in areas where internet service is not available, students will be given hard copies of schoolwork.

Another group of people that the system is making plans for are the volunteers.

“We need a day to coordinate so we’ll have information for the volunteers Tuesday,” Hairston said.

There will be a board of education meeting at 5 p.m. Monday in the auditorium of the WS/FCS Education Building, 4801 Bethania Station Road, Winston-Salem. Attendance will be limited to less than 100 people. The board will receive updates on the efforts to prevent COVID-19 spread. They will also discuss the potential of waiving some board policies and procedures.

On Friday night, Winston-Salem Mayor Allen Joines declared a state of emergency, giving the city the ability to enact “a variety of different restrictions and/or prohibitions” as the COVID-19 outbreak continues to evolve.

More importantly, the declaration makes the city eligible for federal and state emergency funds

The declaration formally requests that “all residents, visitors, businesses and establishments within the city of Winston-Salem follow any and all directives and recommendations set forth by the North Carolina Governor’s Office, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, and the Forsyth County Department of Public Health.”

Forsyth County also declared a state of emergency.

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