Ann Doss Helms / WFAE

North Carolina’s first day of school was marked by celebration, frustration and anxiety about COVID-19. 

Cabarrus County Schools

Reopening schools amid a pandemic is complicated enough, but a handful of schools in the Charlotte region are opening for the very first time -- without being able to let students in.


Superintendent Earnest Winston kicked off this school year with a message about the quest to combat structural racism in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.

"We are at the fork in the road," he said. "We are choosing to actively fight against racism."


Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools notified teachers Wednesday that they’ll no longer be required to wear face masks if they’re providing remote instruction alone in their classrooms.

Ann Doss Helms / WFAE

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.

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. 

Most NC Parents Won't Have Option To Send Kids Back To School

Aug 7, 2020

RALEIGH — When K-12 public school students in North Carolina resume classes this fall, the vast majority of them will be sitting at home in front of a computer screen.

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.

As the school year starts in many districts across the country, a new national poll of teachers from NPR/Ipsos finds overwhelming trepidation about returning to the physical classroom.

As schools across the country grapple with bringing kids back into the classroom, parents — and teachers — are worried about safety. We asked pediatricians, infectious disease specialists and education experts for help evaluating school district plans.

What we learned: There's no such thing as zero risk, but certain practices can lower the risk of an outbreak at school and keep kids, teachers and families safer.

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? 

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. 

Kirk Gallegos is a single father of four. He works construction in Barstow, Calif. Prudence Carter is a single mother of one. She's the dean of the Graduate School of Education at the University of California, Berkeley.

Both share the same problem with tens of millions of other parents around the country: Their public schools aren't operating full time in-person this fall. And the rest of the child care system, which had been stretched even before the pandemic, is itself under pressure.

Ann Doss Helms / WFAE

Stephanie Sneed is stressed. 

She has two kids — rising second- and seventh-graders — enrolled in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools’ all-remote academy for the fall semester. 

“The upcoming school year has my anxiety level off the charts,” Sneed said. 


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.

Pence Urges In-Person School During Visit To North Carolina

Jul 29, 2020
Gage Skidmore / flickr/CC BY 2.0

APEX — Vice President Mike Pence vowed Wednesday that schools around the country will have the resources they need to reopen for in-person learning as he visited a classroom of masked fourth graders at a North Carolina private school.

Wayne Banks is a middle school math teacher and principal in residence for KIPP charter schools. These days, like many teachers around the country, the 29-year-old is working from his apartment in Brooklyn, New York.

Banks has never been formally trained to teach online, but that hasn't stopped him from trying to make his classes as engaging and challenging as possible.

"I really took the opportunity in March to be like, 'I just have to figure this out.' [It was] a do or die for me," Banks says.

School Shutdown Sends Parents Scrambling — In Different Ways

Jul 25, 2020
Courtesy Charlotte Ledger Business Newsletter

In an expansive and airy neighborhood clubhouse in Ballantyne, about 40 parents gather on a Sunday afternoon to talk about the online school year that lies ahead.

CHAPEL HILL — University of North Carolina school system officials have voted to keep tuition rates the same regardless of whether classes move online because of coronavirus concerns.

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%.

Vanessa Ince's daughter, Alexis, has a rare chromosomal abnormality and autism. Alexis has thrived at her public school in Wailuku, Hawaii, and loves spending time with her classmates.

Ince says when the COVID-19 pandemic closed her school in Wailuku, the effect on her daughter's well-being was "devastating."

"Alexis regressed so severely. She was previously, I would say, 95% potty trained and she started wetting herself." She also regressed in other areas, her mother says: She went back to crawling and stopped trying to use her communication device.

Judge Blocks SC Governor's $32 Million Plan For Private Schools

Jul 22, 2020
Henry McMaster
SC National Guard

COLUMBIA, S.C.  — A South Carolina state judge on Wednesday temporarily blocked a plan announced by Gov. Henry McMaster earlier this week to direct $32 million in pandemic relief funds for tuition grants at private schools across the state.

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. 

When Irem Ozturk got the email from Dickinson College in mid-June announcing "we intend to bring all students back to campus," she was elated. She's originally from Turkey, but after two years on campus, she's come to think of Carlisle, Pa., as home. "I was thrilled because I felt like I was returning back home, excited to see friends and faculty," she says. "I felt happy. I felt like I had something to look forward to."

That happiness lasted a little more than a month.

NC's Largest School District To Begin Year With Online Learning

Jul 21, 2020

RALEIGH — Leaders of North Carolina's largest public school district agreed Tuesday to stick with only online student learning to start the academic year, marking another system not yet ready to return to classrooms next month due to COVID-19.

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.