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DPS school board authorizes opening learning centers for children


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The Durham Public Schools Board of Education authorized the opening of six learning centers to provide support for students who need supervision while DPS opens the school year under “Plan C” with remote teaching and learning.

“Opening our school year remotely is the right decision to protect our students and staff from COVID-19,” said DPS Superintendent Pascal Mubenga. “However, there are many families in Durham who need additional support during the school day. It will take a community effort to support each of these children, but DPS is doing its part.”

The DPS Learning Centers would provide a safe space to complete online learning, meals and snacks, and social-emotional activities. Students would be assigned to small pods with daily wellness screenings, distribution and required use of facemasks, and planned circulation and seating of six feet social distancing.

The school district will operate DPS Learning Centers for elementary-aged students at W.G. Pearson, Southwest, and Eno Valley elementary schools, beginning on Monday, August 24. One week later on August 31, learning centers will open at Carrington, Githens, and Shepard middle schools for secondary students.

An application form for elementary students will be available on the DPS website on Monday, Aug. 17.

Priorities for free seats at the learning centers will be given to students in transition, such as those receiving McKinney-Vento services and in foster care. There will be a sliding scale for weekly fees for other students:

  • Regular rate: $140
  • DPS employee rate: $105
  • Rate for students receiving free or reduced-price lunches: $70
  • One-time registration fee (waived for students receiving free seats): $35

Learning centers will be operated by the DPS Department of Community Education. Operating the six learning centers for 450 elementary and 450 middle/high students for nine weeks will cost $486,888 in salaries and benefits, supplies, and materials. There will be additional costs for transportation, custodial support, and other services.

The DPS Learning Centers are part of a broader community initiative to support working families and families with increased economic hardships while schools are closed to in-person instruction. DPS is partnering with the DPS Foundation, Student U, YMCA, and other community organizations to establish Durham HOPE Centers throughout the community that would provide the same services for additional families. Combined, the initiative hopes to reach at least 3,000 students.

Details and registration for other community-run learning centers part of the Durham HOPE Centers will be announced soon. DPS Foundation is fundraising to ensure students who need free access to Learning Centers can attend at no cost. You can make a tax-deductible contribution to support free access to Learning Centers at For more information, contact Magan Gonzales-Smith at