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DPS Board of Education vote for K-12 in-person learning opportunities to resume March 15

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During an emergency meeting of the Durham Public Schools Board of Education, board members voted 5-2 to move forward with the administration’s plan for returning students to the classroom in light of Senate Bill 37.

If families choose to opt their student(s) into in-person learning, K-5 students will attend face-to-face Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday and will remain remote one day per week as part of Wellness Wednesday. Students in 6-12 will be assigned to one of three cohorts and will attend school in rotation two days per week face-to-face while remaining remote the other three days when the other cohorts are in classrooms.

“We have heard from families who want to remain in remote learning and others who want to return to classrooms,” said Dr. Pascal Mubenga, DPS Superintendent.  “We are now able to provide both of those options. I am excited about our partnership with our county health department and Duke Health to vaccinate our employees as quickly as possible. We will provide the personal protective equipment, sanitation, and maintenance support, and the school-by-school plans in order to offer teaching and learning safely on our campuses.”

Below is a timeline for the return of teachers and students:

Elementary Schools:

  • March 8: Teachers return
  • March 15: First day for students and before/aftercare begins

Middle and High Schools:

  • March 24: Teachers return
  • April 8: First day for students in Cohort A

Specialty High Schools (City of Medicine Academy, J.D. Clement Early College, Middle College at DTCC, New Tech):

  • March 1: Teachers return
  • March 18: First day for students in Cohort A

Currently, the DPS Spring 2021 Learning Preference Form is open allowing families to choose whether they wish to remain in remote learning or transition to in-person learning. All families must complete it regardless of if they have completed a form previously by February 24. That form is available here.

All K-12 students with IEPs enrolled in each school have the option for instruction up to four days per week regardless of their IEP needs unless the parent chooses to continue with virtual learning for their child.

“If you can and if you are able, it’s important that you keep your students at home so that we can have proper social distancing and support our staff in this plan,” said Bettina Umstead, DPS Board Chair. “I want everyone to know that we care deeply, each and every one of us, about every single one of our educators, every single one of our students, and this is not a decision that we make lightly. I know that our administration will be working hard to make sure that we can put all the necessary protocols in place. To our community: We are going to have to do this together. That means you need to wear your mask. You need to stay home and not engage with people outside of your household. You need to make sure you are taking the necessary steps also to keep our numbers down so that our educators and students can stay safe in our buildings.”

Since March 2020, the district has remained in remote learning. In January, the DPS Board of Education voted for the district to remain remote through the rest of the school year with hopes of returning to in-person learning during the 2021-22 school year. Senate Bill 37 would require in-person learning to be offered within 15 days of becoming law.

The district has developed strong plans for PPE, social distancing, screenings, and support for students and staff that will be put in place.

The plan calls for central services employees to return to DPS offices beginning February 22 followed by school principals returning on March 1.


For the full PRESENTATION and timeline for the return to school, please refer to the attached documents.