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NHC School Board Discusses Continuing Challenges During Pandemic; Renames Parsley Elementary

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NHCS officials say in presenting this data on middle and high schools, 'their goals are to decrease these failure rates and negative impacts to graduation.'

  At November 10th's New Hanover County School Board meeting, members discussed rising Covid-19 cases, school operation plans, and the first quarter’s student failure rates.

The meeting opened with concerns from residents about the lack of transparency and communication on the part of the Board and school administrators. One person even sang his complaint: “How do we know you’re listening? How do we know ya care?” 

When the discussion shifted to issues surrounding the return to in-person learning, Board member David Wortman challenged Superintendent Charles Foust about his plans for a full reopening. This was Foust’s response:

“Right now the numbers are too high and none of our health officials are endorsing our Plan A.”

School officials also reported to the Board that close to a third of middle and high students are failing one or more classes in the first quarter.  That’s a rate much higher than last year, and this failure rate is even higher for Black and Hispanic students. Here’s Student Support Services Julie Varnam: 

“We know that this is a very complicated time for a lot of folks. This is a complicated time for our students. This is a complicated time for parents who are supporting them and teachers who are supporting them in this remote hybrid Plan B, and so I think we’re just seeing the outcome of some of that stress.”

Among some of the administration’s strategies to address these problems: increasing communication between staff, parents, and students and establishing a 50 as the minimum score for student work. 

Resolving an earlier discussion, the School Board unanimously approved Masonboro Elementary as the new name for Parsley Elementary. The change will be effective next school year.