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News from the Board -- August 11, 2020Posted by Jessica Coston on 8/14/2020 10:40:00 AM
The Onslow County Board of Education held its first regular monthly meeting of the 2020-2021 school year on August 11, 2020 at the Eastern North Carolina Regional Skills Center. Agenda items for this meeting included construction and demolition updates, an update regarding the district’s Return to Learn plan, and an IT focus item on remote learning.
After one speaker during the public comment section, the meeting’s general business was started with a presentation from OCS Chief of Operations Steve Myers and architect Randy Baker. Baker shared with the Board updates on the two school construction projects he is overseeing for the district: Coastal Elementary School in the Folkstone area and the new elementary school being built in the Catherine Lake area. As of August 2020, Baker said that both projects are still on time and under budget. Crews are working on site work utilities, a new curb gutter, classroom wing roof trusses, classroom wing framing and interior walls for Coastal Elementary, which has a projected completion date of May 5, 2021. Crews are working on site utility installation, a new curb/gutters, floor slabs and classroom wing walls for the Catherine Lake school. That project has a projected completion date of December 3, 2021.
Following Baker’s presentation, Myers presented to the Board plans for the demolition of parts of the old Richlands Elementary School. Mr. Myers explained that part of the building will be left standing for use by Trexler Middle School, while all other parts of the school will be demolished. He presented to the Board for approval a bid from Waters Construction for $456,700. The Board unanimously accepted the bid.
Next on the agenda was an update from Superintendent Dr. Barry Collins on the OCS Return to Learn plan. Dr. Collins shared with the Board and attendees in the room that he and his staff have been working day in and day out to ensure that students can return to schools safely. To address continuing concerns with virtual school and the return to school buildings, Dr. Collins shared that central office staff have extended the deadline to withdraw from Onslow Virtual School to Friday, August 14 and created a committee of employees dedicated to returning all calls and emails received. Dr. Collins said that he believes that Plan B is still the best option for OCS’ return to learn and thanked everyone for their patience and understanding as we start an unprecedented school year.
Last on the agenda was a presentation from the Instructional Technology Department regarding remote learning.
Staff from the Digital Learning and Teaching Department demonstrated for the Board an example of what a blended, half in-person/half remote, classroom may look like when school starts. Digital Learning and Teaching Facilitator Erin Holland showed the Board how a teacher could incorporate his or her remote students in lessons taught in the classroom using Microsoft Teams. The techniques she showed included how to field questions from remote students, how to have remote and in-person students collaborate for groupwork, and how to transition remote students from synchronous to asynchronous instruction during a lesson.
Stephen Taylor, director of digital learning teaching services, said that while implementing Plan B is a challenge, he and his team are confident that they can assist in developing an instructional style that will help students learn in this new environment with no extra burden for teachers.