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Lynn Moody, superintendent for Rowan-Salisbury Schools (RSS), issued a plea for community support during a Zoom event last week, specifying four specific requests.

Outdoor learning spaces: Moody said medical professionals claim increased outdoor opportunities will benefit students’ health. Individuals or companies can offer to build anything ranging from a tent with folding chairs to a permanent structure with benches. Teachers will be encouraged to get their students outside whenever possible. Contact kristen.paustian@rss.k12.nc.us to offer an outdoor space at a school. 

Courtesy of RSS

Transportation: While a school bus can usually accommodate 72 passengers, under COVID-19 restrictions, only 24 riders maximum can be on a bus, including the driver. In addition, there is now a critical shortage of bus drivers, as many former drivers are retirees who are concerned about exposure to the virus. Moody asked parents to drive their children to school if at all possible. She asked neighbors to give kids a lift to school on their way to work. Those families who do require bus transportation are asked to register as soon as possible on the website www.rssed.org. Finally, she asked people to apply to serve as bus drivers on the system website. 

Parents in the car line will need to demonstrate patience, particularly in the first weeks of school. Parents will not be allowed to walk their children into the school. Staff will meet each car and check each student’s temperature before allowing them to exit the car. Because of these extra steps, the car line will move more slowly than usual, especially at first. 

Child care: With RSS schools on the “B” plan under the governor’s mandate, students will attend physical school only two days a week. Some students will be on the “A” schedule, attending on Monday and Tuesday. Others will be on the “B” schedule, attending on Thursday and Friday. Schools will be sanitized on Wednesdays. 

Because students will learn at home three days a week, Moody appealed for the community to step up and provide child care for working parents. She asked for churches or offices to offer spaces for child care. Physical space, however, is not enough, she said. Staff members are also needed to watch students who attend the childcare spaces. Contact amanda.howard@rss.k12.nc.us if your organization can help.

Open positions: The new virtual K-12 school in the system has attracted about 100 teachers from traditional schools, and new staff are needed to fill those spaces. In addition, the system has need for custodians, food services staff, medical assistants, and classroom assistants. Substitute teachers are also in high demand. To see available jobs, visit www.rssed.org and see the careers tab. Substitute teachers are hired through Kelly Services. 

Lynn Moody, superintendent of Rowan-Salisbury Schools. Photo courtesy of RSS

Rowan County is traditionally quite a philanthropic community, according to Moody.

“We are so grateful,” Moody said. “We are lucky to have community and business support. Whenever we have needed anything in the past, we have just asked, and it’s been provided. Be patient with us. We will give 150% to welcome children back to school for a great beginning. We look forward to working with you and through you.”

During a question and answer session, Moody shared the following additional information:

  • Parents should learn if their children are on the “A” or “B” schedule within a week.
  • Bus riders’ temperatures will be checked as they unload at the school. Parents are asked to check their child’s temperature before they enter the bus. Students must have their masks on before entering the bus.
  • Part-time jobs are available for custodians and food service workers. Full-time work is not required.
  • If a child runs a fever at school, he or she will be isolated immediately for pickup by a parent. The child cannot come back to school until the parent provides a note from a doctor saying it is safe to return. 

The Zoom event was virtually attended by about 55 community members. While the system has not yet received any concrete offers of help, general response has been quite positive, a spokesperson said. 

Maggie Blackwell

Maggie Blackwell is a freelance writer and former City Councilwoman in Salisbury, North Carolina. She started writing on her Tom Thumb typewriter at age eight and now spends her retirement playing with her grandchildren.