Public school closures extended through spring semester

Published 2:29 pm Friday, April 24, 2020

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North Carolina public schools will continue remote learning for the rest of the school year per an announcement Friday by North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper and N.C. Superintendent of Public Instruction Mark Johnson. Schools were originally closed through May 15.

“Teachers, staff and students were hopeful that they could return to the classroom, but that is just not practical at this point,” Johnson said. “However, I want to assure everyone that this will not be the new normal. While this crisis has forced us to be reactive over the last month, plans for next school year are already underway and will be proactive. We will share more on these proactive measures soon.”

Cooper said the opening of schools in summer and this fall, as well as the availability of summer camps, is going to depend on meeting health guidelines.

“This pandemic will be with us for some time,” Cooper said. “But I have every confidence we will find a way to get schools open safely in the new school year. These challenges will require close coordination with the (State Board of Education), (the N.C. Department of Public Instruction) and the General Assembly, and I hope to continue working together.”

Locally, Beaufort County Schools Superintendent Matthew Cheeseman reflected on what the announcement will mean for students and BCS staff.

“I think it’s sad that we’re not able to come back into school buildings, but I completely understand why we are not,” Cheeseman said. “I recognize that you have to put safety first. We want to make sure all of our students are safe and all of our employees are safe. Considering, I completely understand Gov. Cooper’s decision, and we’ll move forward with it.”

Cheeseman added that school system employees have risen to the challenge of providing remote learning opportunities for their students, but technology and internet access continues to be a hurdle. On Monday, BCS staff will begin reaching out to every family to check in on their access to those resources.

“I think we have done a spectacular job with (remote learning), but there’s also still a lot of learning for us to do in that process,” Cheeseman said. “Those students and families who were already equipped with technology may have had a better transition than some of those students and families who don’t have internet access and technology.”

As far as learning opportunities over the summer, or the possibility of starting school early, Cheeseman said BCS will work with parents and teachers to help assess where children are, and help them catch up if necessary, as the fall semester approaches. Calendar changes, however, would have to come through the N.C. General Assembly.


This week, the North Carolina State Board of Education also approved grading recommendations for all North Carolina public school students in light of the shortened spring semester. Full details can be viewed here. These are the basics:

  • Grades K-5: Students will receive no final grade in grades K-5. Instead of a final grade, teachers will provide year-end feedback for students regarding learning from the full academic school year, using a format determined locally. Teachers will document individual student strengths and needs from both an academic and social/emotional perspective to ensure an effective transition from the spring 2020 remote learning process to the 2020-21 academic year.
  • Grades 6-8: Students will receive a pass or withdrawal for their final course grade for all middle school courses, based on their performance before March 13. Students who worked to improve performance during remote learning will have that taken into account, while students who slipped during remote learning will not have that held against them. A withdrawal grade does not mean the student has failed the grade or has to be retained.
  • Grades 9-11: For high school courses, students and their parents can choose to either receive a letter grade representing their learning as of March 13, or can receive a pass/withdrawal as their final grade. When students choose to report a numeric grade as the final grade on the transcript, the numeric grade will be calculated into the cumulative GPA. When students choose to report a pass or withdrawal as the final grade on the transcript, there is no GPA impact when using these grades. No credit toward graduation will be given for a withdrawal. Grades of incomplete are also a possibility if a plan can be established to finish coursework in a timely manner.
  • Class of 2020: For high school seniors, DPI recommends high school seniors receive a passing grade for their spring classes if they were passing as of March 13, as opposed to a traditional letter grade. If seniors were not passing as of March 13, schools are encouraged to work with them via remote learning to help them graduate on time.
  • Promotion and retention: Student promotion and retention will remain the decision of the school principal and staff. DPI recommends that districts/schools only consider retention of students if the retention consideration process was already well underway for a student prior to March 13. The state agency also encourages collaboration between the school system and families to determine the best path forward for the student.

“I would applaud the State Board of Education for erring on the side of the best interests of students and trying to find a way to put teachers, students and families in a position that reduces the amount of harm that a grade can do to a child,” Cheeseman said.

For the latest updates and educational resources from Beaufort County Schools, visit