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Orange County Schools Closed Starting Monday, March 16

A Letter from Dr. Monique Felder, Superintendent of Orange County Schools

Dear Orange County Schools Families and Staff:

As you know, we are facing an unprecedented health crisis in our nation and state regarding the progression of the coronavirus (COVID-19); we have been listening to the voices of our staff, our families and our community. We believe the best method for mitigating the pandemic is to minimize the opportunities for transmission. Therefore, out of an abundance of caution, Orange County Schools is choosing to close schools effective Monday, March 16 through Friday, April 3.

If all goes well, we will be back in school on Monday, April 6. However, we understand the severity of the current situation and there are still many unknowns. That date could be altered depending on many factors.

We know this decision greatly impacts our entire community, and we continue to closely monitor this situation with the Orange County Health Department. While the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services is not recommending pre-emptive closure of schools and childcare centers at this time, we believe this decision is in the best interest of our families, students and staff. 

In addition, North Carolina law does not give us the legal authority to cancel school without creating make-up opportunities. However, our Board of Education does have the authority to alter our school calendar. As a result, we are adjusting our school calendar to include the following changes:

  • Monday, March 16, Tuesday, March 17, and Wednesday, March 18 will now be teacher workdays. Students will not be in school on those days, but staff will be working to prepare for a potential prolonged period of extended learning. 
  • OCS Spring Break will remain in place as scheduled: March 30 - April 3. 
  • During the weeks of March 16 - 20 and March 23 - 27, students will be learning from home.  Teachers will be expected to hold “office hours” (i.e., virtually, via email, phone) from 9:00 a.m. - noon from March 16-18.
    • Beyond the designated workdays (March 19 - March 27), staff will be flexible and available to students and parents to respond to their instructional needs.
    • Teachers can be reached by email throughout the time of school closing with the exception of Spring Break from March 30 - April 3.

Here’s how we will continue to support our students, families and staff even while our physical school buildings are closed: 

Continued Learning

Education happens every day beyond the walls of our schools. OCS will continue to support student learning through the following methods:

  • Content Delivery

    • All students will have access to digital materials and instructional activities to remain engaged in learning during the time schools will remain closed.
    • All students will be provided paper copies of materials on an as needed basis prior to school closing.
    • K-5 students should be prepared to bring extra books home on Friday, March 13. Please prepare space in their book bags for additional materials.
    • Students in grades 4-12 have been provided with a laptop and charger to take home.
       
  • Instructional Materials

    • Students will NOT be receiving core instruction or taught new skills during this period of distance learning
    • Materials will be supplemental to previously taught skills. For example, students will have access to:
      • Practice activities
      • Enhancement/enrichment activities
      • Conducting research/independent student projects
      • Recreational reading
         
  • Technology Support

    • Teachers will be provided instructions to help students download digital resources/materials directly to their laptops in the event that students do not have reliable internet access at home or through public wi-fi. 
      • The official number for laptop support is: (919) 245-4014. We will have the line operational by the end of business on Friday, March 13.

Child Nutrition and School Meals 

We know many of our children and families rely on the meals they receive in our schools. Orange County Schools will provide students and families with information about food resources within the community.  Any additional information regarding food and resources will be posted and shared with our families via the website (www.orangecountyfirst.com/coronavirus) and social media when it becomes available.

The normal backpack buddies will be sent home tomorrow, Friday, March 13 with students at participating schools. 

We are currently making a determination on where students will be able to receive meals and will announce more information about that very soon at www.orangecountyfirst.com/coronavirus

Children Who Require Special Education Services:

During this time, students will have access to activities provided by their classroom teachers.  Differentiated instructional resources are included within the activities to support the learning needs of students with disabilities. Students accessing the Extended Content Standards will be provided materials that address their instructional content as well.  Related service providers may provide supplemental activities so students maintain skills during this time.

Finally, it is important that as a community we continue to support each other and care for one another. This is an unnerving and anxious time for many families and staff. We may not know for certain what challenges lie ahead, but we do know that we are all in this together, and we are stronger when we act as a team. 

We will continue to reach out with updates as we have them and will post the most up-to-date information at www.orangecountyfirst.com/coronavirus

 

Thank you for being part of the Orange County family,

Dr. Monique Felder 

Superintendent, Orange County Schools