Ann Doss Helms

Education Reporter

Ann Doss Helms covers education for WFAE. She was a reporter for the Charlotte Observer for 32 years, including 16 years on the education beat. She has repeatedly won first place in education reporting from the North Carolina Press Association and won the 2015 Associated Press Senator Sam Open Government Award for reporting on charter school salaries.

She has a bachelor's degree in journalism from Northwestern University and a master's in liberal arts from Winthrop University.

Dashiell Coleman / WFAE

State and local officials are working to clear the way for parents to create neighborhood learning pods – and for schools and community groups to launch supervised settings for remote learning. 


As parents scramble to find care while schools are teaching remotely, Iredell-Statesville Schools is creating a network of options using empty classrooms, reassigned staff and a lot of help from community partners. 

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools opened to teachers and other employees Thursday to prepare for a pandemic school year like no other.

At least, most of the district's 177 schools opened. The district confirmed Thursday evening that Walter G. Byers K-8 School and Hawthorne Academy of Health Sciences told employees to work remotely "while the facilities were cleaned and disinfected due to a positive COVID case in those facilities."


Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools is using an email symptom survey to clear employees for work.

CMS Beginning Teacher Development & Support

More than 9,000 Charlotte-Mecklenburg teachers are returning to their classrooms Thursday to prepare for the start of school. Some of them are wondering: If the schools aren’t safe for students, are they safe for us? 

Ann Doss Helms / WFAE

Gaston County commissioners voted 6-1 Monday night to move a Confederate monument that has stood in front of the courthouse since 1912.

Four Charlotte-area charter schools have canceled plans for in-person opening, even though they’re part of a chain that’s promoting that option. 


The Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board voted unanimously Thursday to cancel in-person orientation and join at least 52 other North Carolina school districts in an all-remote opening Aug. 17.

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board has called an emergency meeting for 2 p.m. Thursday to decide whether to scrap plans to hold in-person orientation in August.

Ann Doss Helms / WFAE

A majority of Gaston County commissioners Tuesday night agreed to seek legislative approval to let citizens vote whether to remove a Confederate monument outside the county courthouse. The move followed a public hearing where most speakers favored removal.   

Ann Doss Helms

Gaston County commissioners will get a report on the county's Confederate monument Tuesday night, at a meeting that's expected to draw a crowd in a time of racial tension.

Feelings were already running high two weeks ago, when a volunteer advisory panel voted 7-5 to remove the Confederate soldier on a pedestal that has stood outside Gaston County’s courthouse since 1912. Some said it’s a tribute to soldiers who fought bravely. Others denounced it as a monument to white supremacy.

Photo by August de Richelieu from Pexels

A majority of North Carolina's 1.5 million public school students will begin the year learning from home.

That has become clear less than two weeks after Gov. Roy Cooper recommended that schools open in person with social distancing on Aug. 17. But all-remote remained an option, and the Cabarrus County school board's Thursday night vote to pursue that option pushed the total past 50%.

Jana Watt

On Tuesday the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board heard from people who asked for less in-person class time in August, as well as people who asked for more. But officials stayed focused on how to carry out the school reopening plan they approved last week. 

Ann Doss Helms / WFAE

A group called "Retire the Red Raider" is lobbying the Gaston County school board to change the mascot for Belmont's South Point High School.

Ann Doss Helms / WFAE

Correction: A previous version of this story misstated when The Charlotte Observer got the tape of David Switzer apologizing for a comment at a staff meeting.

Community House Middle School Principal Jamie Brooks has been named principal of nearby Ardrey Kell High, effective this week.

The job came open after David Switzer was reassigned to central offices amid complaints that he had allowed a culture of racism to flourish at the Ballantyne-area school. 

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board -- and the public -- will get a recap of the plan for reopening schools at Tuesday night's virtual meeting.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools families have until Sunday to enroll their kids in a Full Remote Academy if they don’t feel safe letting them return to school. But CMS has chosen a remote experience for all students, at least for several weeks. 

About 2,100 Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools employees are at risk of losing their paychecks if the district’s all-remote plan stretches well into the school year. 

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools will reopen for two weeks of in-person orientation starting Aug. 17, then shift to remote learning for an indefinite time.


South Carolina's public schools must reopen with in-person classes available five days a week, Gov. Henry McMaster announced Wednesday.

Ann Doss Helms / WFAE

North Carolina school districts now have two options for reopening in August. They can start with a mix of remote and in-person classes that allows for social distancing, or decide it’s not safe to bring students back and start the year remotely. 

Ann Doss Helms / WFAE

Gov. Roy Cooper announced today he’ll allow North Carolina’s public schools to reopen Aug. 17 with buildings and buses at limited capacity, despite persistently high COVID-19 numbers. He also said the state's current Phase 2 level of coronavirus-safety restrictions will stay in place for three more weeks. 

Ann Doss Helms / WFAE

A panel of Gaston County residents voted 7-5 Monday to remove a Confederate monument that has stood in front of the county courthouse for 88 years. The vote came after heated debate over whether the statue represents white supremacy. 

Ann Doss Helms / WFAE


Schools in Charlotte and across North Carolina have been closed since mid-March because of the coronavirus. Online classes became the new norm. Many in-person graduations, sporting events and proms were canceled. Now, state health officials say North Carolina’s coronavirus trends are moving in the wrong direction. As fall draws closer, what’s next for schools? Will buildings reopen?

Beth Dozier Hessler

Home-schooling has been growing steadily across North Carolina, especially in the Charlotte region. And early signs hint that those numbers could keep growing in the coming school year. 

Ann Doss Helms / WFAE

There was a lot of talk about unity and common ground at the first meeting of Gaston’s Council of Understanding, but sharp differences emerged, too. Twelve volunteers gathered to hear each other’s views of the towering Confederate monument that stands outside the courthouse where they met.

Dashiell Coleman / WFAE

Twelve volunteers will walk past a towering Confederate monument into the Gaston County Courthouse Tuesday to discuss whether that statue should be removed. The outcome will provide one measure of just how much perspectives are shifting on matters of race, power and history. 

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools needs to fill 66 custodian jobs at a time when the coronavirus is creating new demands for sanitizing schools.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools students could cycle through one week of in-person classes and two weeks of remote learning after they return to school Aug. 17. That’s one scenario for coping with the coronavirus presented Wednesday night. 

N.C. Department of Public Safety

Gov. Roy Cooper pushed back his self-imposed July 1 deadline for a statewide school reopening plan, saying Wednesday he needs more time to "get it right."