ECPPS Superintendent shares what's next for students, teachers with school closed until mid-May

Posted at 4:22 PM, Mar 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-24 16:22:20-04

ELIZABETH CITY, N.C. - With schools in North Carolina now closed through May 15, districts are working to figure out the best way to move forward.

For superintendent of Elizabeth City-Pasquotank Public Schools Dr. Catherine Edmonds, one of the first steps is figuring out how to safely get teachers access to their classrooms.

Dr. Edmonds tells News 3 she planned to speak with all of the school's principals Tuesday about that issue to make sure teachers have the resources they need to continue working with students virtually.

For those students who don't have internet access at home, the school system has also set up free WiFi spots.

"We have created what we call 'Park ‘n Learn.' So at each of our schools, with the exception of our early college because they’re on a college campus, but our other 12 schools, we have a designated area with 'Park 'n Learn' signs up so that families can go to the school, pull up and park and have free access to our WiFi," said Dr. Edmonds.

Although it's not easy for everyone trying to suddenly adapt, Edmonds says she's grateful for the teachers. She says she's seen some online at 2 a.m. responding to parents and others getting creative.

"For example, our JROTC, their virtual classroom, they have uniform inspections everyday. So they’ve asked students to have someone video them in their uniform so they can have their inspections done each day," Dr. Edmonds said.

There is still a lot of uncertainty, though, especially for juniors and seniors looking ahead to college and graduation.

Dr. Edmonds says right now, they're working to figure out the best options for them.

"I’m sure we will come up with a plan that will hold our students harmless. I know in our district we’ve started looking at which of our seniors already meet the graduation requirements, which ones are one class away or two classes away, so just getting a handle on where are our seniors in terms of graduating from high school," Dr. Edmonds said. "We’re also staying closely connected with our UNC systems to hear from them what the expectations [are] for our high school seniors that would be incoming freshmen."

As for graduation, it's still unknown exactly what that could look like.

"That is a tough one. We have so many students and families that have waited for this time to see their students walk across the stage, so if things work out and we’re back in school on May 18th we certainly see that happening. We have thought about things like, maybe once we’re back in school we can have a graduation. If it’s after the May 18th date then we would still have a graduation for our seniors. What would that look like if we had to do something virtually? So we’re still thinking through those pieces because we know this is a very important time for families and I know some of us think, 'well we have bigger fish to fry or other things that we need to consider,' but when you’re a senior and you’ve been waiting for your senior prom, you’ve been waiting for your senior awards, you’ve been waiting for that moment to walk across the stage, it matters to them," said Dr. Edmonds.

For families worried about feeding their students during the closure, she says the food distribution they've been doing will continue for students. They're also working with the food bank to provide meals for parents who need them.

You can see her full interview with News 3's Erica Greenway in the video above.