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CMS Will Try Remote Classes For Pre-K Students

Ann Doss Helms

Four-year-olds enrolled in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools' prekindergarten programs will start their school year remotely, just like their older counterparts, Superintendent Earnest Winston announced Tuesday.

The remote opening applies to children in the CMS Bright Beginnings program, as well as NC Pre-K students assigned to CMS classrooms. No mention was made of 4-year-olds admitted to CMS Montessori magnet schools.

Winston's report to the school board didn't elaborate on how remote prekindergarten works. But a memo shared with WFAE Tuesday night says teachers will connect with pre-K families over the next few days to help them with online learning plans for their children.

The children will have "virtual staggered entry," where parents and children work together on an online lesson, Aug. 20-24. The first day of virtual pre-K will be Aug. 25.

"Teachers will have a live link and have a live large group literacy session," the memo says. "Children will use the access information the teacher gave them at their virtual home visit."

Families without internet access can pick up paper packets. Teachers will take attendance, either through online participation or phone calls.

Meanwhile, NC Pre-K students enrolled at private child-care centers will attend in person with safe distancing. So will children in Mecklenburg County's public prekindergarten program, which also uses private centers. All three public pre-K programs are free to families and run during the school year.

CMS board member Sean Strain, who has consistently argued for getting all students back into schools, noted that the county staff includes the health department.

"They've decided that pre-K can be hosted in their facilities and we've decided that it's unsafe to do so," Strain said. "There's a disconnect somewhere. ... If we're going to vary, we really need to be able to explain that."

Winston has created a medical advisory board to come up with metrics for safe reopening of schools. He said Tuesday that group has met once and he expects recommendations in about three weeks.

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