Message from the Superintendent | 4-22-21
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I hope you all have had a good week! At last night’s Durham Public Schools Board of Education meeting, I discussed the recent COVID-19 update from Governor Cooper regarding social distancing mandates.
Wednesday, the governor announced that if we hit a target of two-thirds of North Carolina adults receiving at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, he would lift most capacity limits and distancing requirements as of June 1. Mask requirements would likely stay in place, and we would all continue to have to be vigilant, but this is a hopeful sign that vaccines are having their expected effect. The district is also hopeful that vaccines will be made available to students younger than 16 years old soon.
This means that now is the time to remove any uncertainty about our plans for the next school year, as families are making their plans for their children’s education.
Last night, I announced that next month I will be bringing plans to the Board for DPS to completely reopen in Plan A during the upcoming school year.
I’m sure that masks, contact tracing, and MERV-13 air filtration will still be part of our daily reality. Once in Plan A, we will continue to follow state law and guidance, and work closely with our county health department, to ensure the safety and health of our teachers, students, and staff. It is important that our sixteen- and seventeen-year-old students, all of our families, and all of our neighbors and community members get vaccinated now, to play their part in a great reopening for our classrooms.
Also, we are excited about the early response to Ignite! Online Academy. It will be a strong option for families who are still concerned about COVID-19 and want to continue learning from home with being engaged with the district. It is also a strong option for families who have been homeschooling or in other settings, and who are eager to come back, and come together, to our community’s public schools. In May, I will bring you an update on Ignite, and I will ask the Board to look into one of the concerns that have arisen about whether acceptance to Ignite means that families must give up their existing magnet seats if they want to return. It is a complex issue, and we want to ensure that equity is at the forefront of the conversation.
I have been visiting our schools and am so excited to see life in the hallways and classrooms again. I’m very enthusiastic for next year, as we resume our upward trajectory and come together once more.
I am grateful for the commitment of our students, teachers, and staff. Together, DPS will emerge stronger after this pandemic.
Dr. Pascal Mubenga
Superintendent of Durham Public Schools