February 2021


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DPS Board of Education vote for k-12 in-person learning opportunities to resume March 15

During an emergency meeting of the Durham Public Schools Board of Education, board members voted 5-2 to move forward with the administration’s plan for returning students to the classroom in light of Senate Bill 37.

If families choose to opt their student(s) into in-person learning, K-5 students will attend face-to-face Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday and will remain remote one day per week as part of Wellness Wednesday. Students in 6-12 will be assigned to one of three cohorts and will attend school in rotation two days per week face-to-face while remaining remote the other three days when the other cohorts are in classrooms.

“We have heard from families who want to remain in remote learning and others who want to return to classrooms,” said Dr. Pascal Mubenga, DPS Superintendent. “We are now able to provide both of those options. I am excited about our partnership with our county health department and Duke Health to vaccinate our employees as quickly as possible. We will provide the personal protective equipment, the sanitation and maintenance support, and the school-by-school plans in order to offer to teach and learning safely on our campuses.”

Below is a timeline for the return of teachers and students:

Elementary Schools:

· March 8: Teachers return

· March 15: First day for students and before/aftercare begins

Middle and High Schools:

· March 24: Teachers return

· April 8: First day for students in Cohort A

Specialty High Schools:

· March 1: Teachers return

· March 18: First day for students in Cohort A

Currently, the DPS Spring 2021 Learning Preference Form is open allowing families to choose whether they wish to remain in remote learning or transition to in-person learning. All families must complete it regardless of if they have completed a form previously by February 24. That form is available here.

All K-12 students with IEPs enrolled in each school have the option for instruction up to four days per week regardless of their IEP needs unless the parent chooses to continue with virtual learning for their child.

“If you can and if you are able, it’s important that you keep your students at home so that we can have proper social distancing and support our staff in this plan,” said Bettina Umstead, DPS Board Chair. “I want everyone to know that we care deeply, each and every one of us, about every single one of our educators, every single one of our students, and this is not a decision that we make lightly. I know that our administration will be working hard to make sure that we can put all the necessary protocols in place. To our community: We are going to have to do this together. That means you need to wear your mask. You need to stay home and not engage with people outside of your household. You need to make sure you are taking the necessary steps also to keep our numbers down so that our educators and students can stay safe in our buildings.”

Since March 2020, the district has remained in remote learning. In January, the DPS Board of Education voted for the district to remain remote through the rest of the school year with hopes of returning to in-person learning during the 2021-22 school year. Senate Bill 37 would require in-person learning to be offered within 15 days of becoming law.

The district has developed strong plans for PPE, social distancing, screenings, and support for students and staff that will be put in place.

The plan calls for central services employees to return to DPS offices beginning February 22 followed by school principals returning on March 1.

For the full presentation and plan, click here.

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DPS Spring 2021 Learning Preference Form to be completed by Feb. 24

Durham Public Schools is planning for in-person learning in response to Senate Bill 37 (SB37), which requires all school districts to offer in-person learning in addition to a virtual option. We are also planning additional in-person support for PK-12 EC Separate Setting (Adapted Curriculum Classes), EC Deaf/Hard of Hearing (DHH), and Visually Impaired (VI) Center-Based Programs. Students in all grades PreK-12 will have the option to begin in-person learning on a timeline provided by the DPS Board of Education in line with SB37. Families will need to choose to remain in virtual learning or to select the in-person option provided to them based on their grade level.

Please identify whether you would like for your student to attend in-person instruction at their school site (as outlined above) or to remain in virtual learning full-time with their school for the remainder of the year. All efforts will be made to keep your student with their teacher OR a teacher from your student’s school, regardless of learning preference selection, but we cannot GUARANTEE teacher continuity at this time.

**Please note, ALL FAMILIES SHOULD SUBMIT A FORM FOR EACH PREK-12 DPS STUDENT, regardless of whether or not you completed a form in December or any at other point this school year. (Families with multiple students should submit a separate form for each student.)

It is important that you complete the learning preference form by Feb. 24 by clicking here.

New state social studies standards adopted

On Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021, the North Carolina State Board of Education voted 7 to 5 to approve new social studies standards for students in grades K-12. The new standards emphasize teaching a comprehensive history to consider multiple perspectives, including discussing racism, discrimination, and the impact of policies on different populations. Beginning in elementary school, students will consider the contributions and democratic advocacy among various groups including women; indigenous, religious, and racial groups; and other marginalized populations. Additionally, students will apply inquiry models, analyze and evaluate social studies topics, communicate conclusions, and take informed actions.

The Durham Public Schools Board of Education supported the adoption of the standards that provide a more expansive scope of history that is inclusive of varied groups that coexist in our district, city, state, and nation. The school board applauds the efforts of NCDPI, the standards writing and reviewing teams, and the members of the NCSBE for ensuring our students are afforded an opportunity to learn about our combined histories.

Although the adopted language of the standards (Draft 5) is less specific than the Board’s preferred Draft 4, the new standards are significantly more inclusive and representative of the experiences of all North Carolinians. DPS sees these standards as tools that will aid our mission of embracing, educating, and empowering every student to innovate, serve, and lead a more equitable society.

DPS Health Minute: Welcome to our new wellness video series

DPS Health Minute: Welcome to our new wellness video series

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented a series of challenges for students, staff, and families across the district. One of which is navigating physical, mental, and nutritional health.

With this, we are excited to announce that beginning in February the district will release health minute videos focused on improving the physical, mental, and nutritional health of our students, staff, and families.

During these videos, representatives from various schools and departments will provide you with tips on how you can improve your overall health from your home. Today’s tip is to turn off your computer and devices and take a 10-minute walk outside to breathe in some fresh air, clear your mind and focus on mental clarity. We spend a lot of our time looking at screens and it’s important to take a break every day.

For more information, you can visit embrace.dpsnc.net.

Until next time, here’s to a healthier you.

#DPSBeyond28 Black History Month Series: #Dreams4Durham

#DPSBeyond28​ Black History Month Series: Dreams for Durham​

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About Durham Public Schools

Our school district is one of the top 10 largest in the state, serving more than 32,000 students in both the city and county of Durham. Durham is on an upward trend, recognized all over as one of the hot spots in the south -- from food to history to music to education -- more and more people are learning what those of us here already know: Durham is the place to be!