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Schools closed until May 15, BCS ramps up online learning

Schools across the state will remain closed until May 15 under a new executive order signed by N.C. Governor Roy Cooper on Monday. As local students and their parents adjust to learning from home amidst school closures, Beaufort County Schools is providing additional resources to help local kids access online learning.

According to BCS Director of Technology Stephanie Godley the school system is providing enhanced free Wi-Fi at Southside High School, Washington High School, Chocowinity Middle School and S.W. Snowden. BCS is also partnering with RiverStreet Networks in Belhaven to provide wireless internet capability at Northside High School and Bath Elementary.

“I felt like it was important to set up the resources (students) need,” Godley said. “With remote learning, we’ve had a lot of teachers and principals work really hard on the curriculum. We had to provide something for these kids.”

The service will be offered daily from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. The wireless network at the schools is “BCS Open,” with no password. The Riverstreet network SSIDs are: Riverstreet5G or Riverstreet2.4. Godley encourages parents to park in the following locations to get the best signal:

  • Washington High School — Student parking lot near the modular unit
  • Chocowinity Middle School — Front staff parking lot
  • Southside High School —Student parking lot near ETC & Gym
  • Snowden Elementary School — Front staff parking lot
  • Northside High School — Student parking lot near building

Bath Elementary School — Staff parking lot behind the school near 400 building and middle school (right side of the school) Near satellite gated area.

“We’ve tested all of our locations and it seems to be working great,” Godley said. “Snowden and Washington will be done today (Monday) and RiverStreet is still working on the Bath and Northside schools.”

For kids who do not have a computer or device, parents can contact their school and arrange to check out a Chromebook for the duration of the school closure. Students can then access online resources at www.beaufort.k12.nc.us.

According to BCS Superintendent Matthew Cheeseman, the school system is also working with the Washington-Beaufort County Chamber of Commerce to identify additional businesses where kids can access free wireless internet.

“We also use old fashioned mail,” Cheeseman said. “When we think about kids who may not have technology access, our teachers put assignments together and mail them directly from the schools or the district office. It’s review material right now, so it’s not a sprint to try to get all this information to people. It’s more of a marathon. The work is not graded. It’s just about participating and keeping our minds active. We encourage lots of reading and lots of family time with kids, no matter what age they are.”

COMMUNITY LEARNING

At Washington’s Spring Garden Missionary Baptist Church, Pastor Aaron Lewis, who is also a distance learning facilitator at Southside High School, is working with the school system to set up an additional remote learning setting. He is collaborating with Anthony Tyre, at Centerpoint, to offer the service at two locations, using Chromebooks on loan from BCS.

“The school is doing what it can to provide paper work for those that don’t have Wifi, but I still wanted those that want to have that capability to be able to,” Lewis said. “I put a Facebook post out there to let parents and students know that’s an option if they’re serious about getting their work done.”

Lewis said a number of certified teachers and teacher assistance have volunteered their time to help with specific subjects. The option will be available to all grade levels, from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Mondays through Fridays, by appointment only.

“That way, we can keep under 10 people so the kids will have space to spread out,” Lewis said. “We want to be able to practice social distancing there as well. So I have enough space in the fellowship hall at Spring Garden and (Tyre) showed me the room he is planning to use. We’re going to collaborate and get as many kids as much help as we can.”

To set up a time for your student, contact Lewis at 252-944-3940 or email alewis@beaufort.k12.nc.us. Time slots will be approximately one hour.

Schools to remain closed until May 15