• Appalachian State University Receives Additional $4.1 Million Increase to General Fund; 2020 Audit Shows Four Percent Revenue Decrease

    February 26, 2021 The UNC Board of Governors approved an increase of $4.1 million to the university’s general fund to help offset some of the revenue shortcomings that can be attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic over the last year. An audit in June of 2020 by the state showed a decrease of four percent in total revenue for the school compared to 2019 numbers. That total ended up being $19.1 million. The audit states that prorated housing and dining refunds, as well as revenue losses at the University Bookstore, New River Light and Power and additional losses from not being able to hold camps and conferences on campus, were the key areas that resulted in revenue decreases. Appalachian State’s total operating expenses increased by $6.5 million, which is a change of 1.6 percent from 2019. The audit shows that most of the operating increases came from salary increases for faculty and staff and additional funds for scholarships and fellowships. By Nathan Ham / Read more…



  • Remote Learning Through Watauga Virtual Academy Will Continue as Schools Plan Return to the Classroom

    February 24, 2021 After Monday’s unanimous school board vote that will send kindergarten through fifth grade students back to the classroom four days a week starting in March, families wanting to keep their kids enrolled in remote learning will have that opportunity for the foreseeable future. Students in kindergarten, first and second grade will return to in-person learning four days a week beginning on March 8. Third, fourth and fifth graders will return to in-person learning four days a week beginning on March 22. All students will continue remote learning on Wednesdays each week. No changes have been made for middle school and high school students as they will continue operating on the 2×3 Flex Plan with two days in school and three days of remote learning. For the parents and guardians that feel safer with their students learning from home, the Watauga Virtual Academy will keep operating to provide the best education possible. By Nathan Ham / Read more…



  • Watauga County School Board Unanimously Approves Four Days of In-Person Classroom Instruction for K-5 Students Beginning March 8

    February 22, 2021 In a step closer to a full-time return to the classroom for all students in Watauga County, the school board voted to approve a measure to send K-2 students back to the classroom four days a week, beginning March 8 and third grade through fifth grade students back into the classroom four days a week beginning on March 22. The county will still continue to offer remote learning for children and families who feel more comfortable with that instead. The motion was supported unanimously by all five board members. If all goes well with the four-day school week without any major increases in COVID-19 cases, the next step would be returning all K-5 students to the classroom five days a week. “I anticipate that if we have the success with our mitigation efforts that we have had all year long that once we have made this transition, I would be prepared at that point to recommend a five day a week schedule,” said superintendent Dr. Scott Elliott. Students in grades 6-12 will continue on 2×3 Flex Plan with two days in school and three days of remote learning. By Nathan Ham / Read more…



  • Federal and State Governments Continue Push to Reopen Schools; Watauga County School Board to Meet Monday Afternoon to Continue Discussion


    February 19, 2021 North Carolina is much like every other state across the country, and even the federal government, in pushing for reopening public schools to try and bring a little more normalcy to the lives of children throughout the country. In Watauga County, the schools are still operating under the state’s Plan B guidelines where schools are open at half capacity where half of the students attend school on Monday and Tuesday and the other half attend on Thursday and Friday. Monday’s school board meeting could change how that process works for the rest of the spring semester. “The board will discuss COVID-19 metrics and what, if any, changes need to be made to that current schedule,” said Garrett Price, the Director of Communications for Watauga County Schools. “The meeting will be open to the public, but limited to 10 people in person because of statewide restrictions.” The meeting will also be streamed on the Watauga County Schools YouTube channel at 1 p.m. and the general public can submit their comments for the board by emailing them to superintendent Dr. Scott Elliott at [email protected] By Nathan Ham / Read more…



  • Watauga High School to Hold Virtual Parent Nights for Rising Ninth Graders Starting February 8

    January 29, 2021 Watauga High School will be hosting VIRTUAL Q&A parent sessions about high school registration. Prior to the sessions, counselors in the K-8 schools will share a virtual presentation with parents with important information regarding the registration process, course options, graduation requirements, the Watauga Innovation Academy, and more! A specific Google meet link will also be sent to the parents to give them the optional opportunity to ask specific questions of high school representatives, including teachers who will be available to answer questions about 9th grade required courses. The links are specific to each school, so parents will need to attend the session for their particular school’s assigned evening. There will also be an additional offering on February 10th for any parents who are not able to attend their evening session.  / Read more…



  • Watauga County Schools Survey Parent Interest for New Virtual Academy for K-8 Students for 2021-22

    January 27, 2021 Watauga County Schools has launched a survey to gauge community interest in participation in an online virtual public school for K-8 students in the 2021-22 school year. You can take the survey at http://bit.ly/WVAinterest or on the homepage of the district website www.wataugaschools.org. Currently, the district operates an online school called the Watauga Virtual Academy for students who are unable to attend school in person due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The district is now seeking feedback from parents across the community to determine interest in establishing the WVA as an ongoing institution in the coming school year. Next year, Watauga County Schools plans to operate the Watauga Virtual Academy as its own school as an opportunity for families who wish to participate in virtual education on an ongoing basis. Families will be able to apply for the new online school and acceptance would be limited to those who demonstrate that they can be successful in the highly digital/virtual setting. / Read more…



  • Watauga High School Foreign Language Teachers Recognized for Awards


    January 13, 2021 Two Watauga High School foreign language teachers were recognized at the January meeting of the Watauga County Board of Education after being awarded with statewide and national honors for prowess in their area of expertise. WHS Spanish Teacher, Carmen Scoggins, was awarded the American Council on Teaching Foreign Languages Florence Steiner Award for Leadership in Foreign Language Education K- 12. The award is presented yearly to an educator who has demonstrated excellence in the world language classroom and has been a leader at the local, regional, state and national levels. Scoggins was recognized for her leadership and contributions to teaching foreign languages at both Watauga High School and Appalachian State University. She also provides professional development for teachers across the entire United States and has served as president of FLANC (Foreign Language Association of North Carolina) and SCOLT (Southern Conference on Language Teaching).  / Read more…



  • Remote Learning Continues to be a Helpful Tool Dealing with Inclement Weather and COVID-19

    January 13, 2021 The Watauga County School System would like things to be “back to normal” like years past, but for the time being, the addition of remote learning has given the county a useful option for dealing with both COVID-19 infections and days of snowfall in the High Country. So far this year, Watauga County Schools have had just one traditional snow day. Three other inclement weather days became fully remote learning days for students and Election Day was used as a fully remote learning day since voters were using numerous school gymnasiums as voting precincts. “Typically, on inclement weather remote learning days, as we are calling them, teachers and staff who are able to work from home can choose to do so, though many choose to travel to work if conditions allow,” said Garrett Price, the Director of Communications for Watauga County Schools. “Just like a regular snow day, our primary concern is the safety of our students, teachers and staff as they travel, so remote learning has given us a much higher degree of flexibility on days with bad weather.”By Nathan Ham / Read more…



  • Santa Sighted in Banner Elk on December 18 Visiting Students at Banner Elk Elementary


    December 21, 2020 It was a Santa parade!  Er, or a parade for Santa?  Or, a parade Santa came to? It was an eager group of kids hanging out of car doors and windows, as their pajama-clad parents and costumed teachers grinned and Santa passed out Christmas goodies.  Instead of a traditional before-Christmas “blowout” at Banner Elk Elementary School, with PJs at breakfast and a holiday movie, COVID-19 prompted Mr. Claus to do an about-face and come to the school early—a “fantastic experience,” according to the old gent himself. “TODAY was one of the best days,” Principal Justin Carver, enthused, “and a new tradition at Banner Elk Elementary School.”  / Read more…



  • Erin Ellington Named Northwest North Carolina Regional Teacher of the Year


    December 7, 2020 Mabel and Parkway school music teacher Erin Ellington has been named Northwest North Carolina’s Regional Teacher of the Year. The award is presented each year to a teacher from a group of educators in eight regions across North Carolina who’ve been named their school district’s Teacher of the Year. Ellington was named Watauga County Schools Teacher of the Year in March. With her latest accolade, Ellington will now be eligible to be named the Teacher of the Year for the state of North Carolina. Watauga County Schools Superintendent Scott Elliott said he was honored to have Ellington represent Watauga County Schools for the regional award. “Mrs. Ellington’s many years of experience in multiple school communities gives her a unique perspective on the challenges and the many strengths of our wonderful public education system,” Elliott said. / Read more…



  • Remote Learning to Allow for Snow Day Flexibility for Watauga County Schools


    November 23, 2020 With winter quickly approaching, Watauga County Schools would like to remind families how the district makes and communicates decisions about the operation of school during inclement weather. This year, thanks to additional equipment and student laptops purchased in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the district plans to utilize remote learning on certain school days that would have otherwise been cancelled and later made up due to inclement weather. Superintendent Scott Elliott said the districts’ period of remote learning in the fall had prepared WCS with the equipment and experience it needed to operate school remotely on snow days this winter. “Our experience with remote learning has given us the opportunity for the first time to hold school remotely on days that winter weather would have ordinarily forced us to close our doors,” Elliott said.  / Read more…



  • School Nurses at the Center of WCS COVID-19 Precautions


    November 3, 2020  For public school employees, the COVID-19 pandemic introduced significant change into every role in education. From the people who are responsible for providing meals to students, to those who drive buses or teach in classrooms, this year, all the work associated with our public schools has been adapted, restructured and in many ways, complicated. While everyone who enters a school building in the morning has a unique and important role to play in the ongoing efforts to mitigate the spread of the virus, perhaps no single job has been impacted more than that of the school nurse. In schools across Watauga County, nurses are now situated at the center of the district’s COVID-19 response and prevention efforts. / Read more…



  • Kiwanis Club of Banner Elk Shares Their Terrific Kids Pictures from Riverside Elementary School


    October 23, 2020  The Kiwanis Club of Banner Elk would like to recognize August and September’s group of Terrific Kids from Riverside Elementary School. Terrific Kids for the month of August – Front row (L to R): Mason Thomas, Nehemiah Honeycutt, Maddux Vance, Becca Woody. Back row (L to R): Bentley Burleson, Nevaeh Honeycutt, Benjamin Carpenter, Dakota Laws, Tessa Ingram. Terrific Kids for the month of September – Front row (L to R): Madi-Rose Stafford, Samara Ekard, James Clark, Silas Thomas. Back row (L to R): Tycen McClellan, Charlee Willams, Sylas Fisher, Bentley Hoilman, Gracie Honeycutt / Read more…



  • Additional Watauga County Students Return to School Under 3×2 Flex Plan

    October 21, 2020 Students in grades four up through high school seniors are back in the classroom this week as part of Watauga County’s 3×2 Flex Plan returning students to something a little closer to a normal school week. Initially, students in kindergarten through third grade started back to school during the first full week of October. Now, the additional grades are back in school buildings. “We are so glad to be able to welcome the rest of our students back to in-person learning. There’s definitely a lot of energy and positivity among our staff and teachers,” said Garrett Price, the Director of Communications for Watauga County Schools. “It’s been great to see how seriously everyone in our school communities has been taking the appropriate safety precautions that have allowed us to return to schools.” By Nathan Ham / Read more…



  • Watauga County Schools to Serve Free Meals for Remainder of School Year

    October 16, 2020 This week, the USDA further extended funding and flexibility that will allow Watauga County Schools to serve free meals to all children in the county regardless of income or school enrollment for the remainder of the 2020-21 school year. Meal distribution will continue to operate in the same way the district served meals over the summer, but each school in the county will be open as a meal distribution site. Each school in Watauga will serve lunch and a packed breakfast for the next day from 1-1:30 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday and from 11:30 a.m. until 1 p.m. on Wednesday. Wednesday’s meal pickup will be curbside only at Watauga High School. There will be no meal service on November 3.  According to the USDA, the program will be funded through June 2021.  / Read more…



  • Watauga County Elementary Schools Reopen for K-3 Students with 2×3 Flex Schedule

    October 5, 2020 School buses were back on the roads and picking up children Monday morning for the first time since March as Watauga County Schools returned kindergarten through third grade students to the classroom in a limited capacity. “It was certainly nice to see students in schools this morning! Our schools handled our screening and check-in procedures very well. It was good to see the planning we’ve done over the past several weeks put into practice,” said Garrett Price, the Director of Communication for Watauga County Schools. “In-person instruction is most important to our youngest students, so we were very happy to be able to get them back into school safely on our 2×3 Flex Schedule.” The “2×3 Flex Plan” will see half of the students in classrooms on Mondays and Tuesdays, the other half will be in school on Thursdays and Fridays. Wednesdays will be used as remote instruction time for all students and will also be used as a day where each school goes through a deep cleaning process. Each day that the students are not in the classroom, they will have remote instruction activities to work on from home. By Nathan Ham / Read more…



  • Kiwanis Club of Banner Elk Shares Their Terrific Kids Pictures from Newland Elementary and Freedom Trail Elementary


    October 5, 2020  The Kiwanis Club of Banner Elk would like to recognize September’s group of Terrific Kids from Newland Elementary and Freedom Trail Elementary. The students from Newland Elementary are: Back Row (left to right): Ollie Blevins (3rd), Henry Ferrell (4th), Herlindo Barajas (5th), Trenten Brown (4th), Ivan Magallan (5th), Jaime Leon-Pahuamba (3rd), Adalyn Dellinger (1st). Front Row (left to right): Jasper Blake (K), Aron Robles Jimenez (1st), Maggie Carver (PreK), Brandon Enriquez (2nd). Not Pictured: Hayes Patience (5th). The students from Freedom Trail Elementary are: Back Row Left to Right: Jace Townsend, Amelia Grindstaff, Katie Lewis, Liliana Osorio, Jose Velazquez. Middle Row Left to Right: Sadie Franklin, Lindy Manis, Camryn Jarrett. Front Row Left to Right: Brynn Benfield, Walter Franklin, Darla Smith.  / Read more…



  • Watauga County Board of Education Votes to Resume In-Person Learning for K-3

    September 22, 2020 On Monday, Sept. 21, the Watauga County Board of Education voted unanimously to implement a plan that will reopen in-person learning in Watauga County Schools in grades K-3. Beginning Oct. 5, Kindergarten through third-grade students will be able to return to school in-person on the 2×3 Plan B Flex Schedule. Under the plan, half of the students will attend school on Monday and Tuesday, while the other half attend on Thursday and Friday. Wednesday would be reserved as a remote learning day for all students. In total, students would have three days of remote learning at home each week. The plan that the board adopted Monday night will reopen in-person learning to students in grades 4-12 on Oct. 19 under the same 2×3 Plan B Flex Schedule and social distancing measures. / Read more…



  • Watauga County School Board Will Vote on Possible Return to Classrooms During Special Meeting on Monday Evening

    September 21, 2020 A special Watauga County Board of Education Meeting is scheduled or 5 p.m. this evening at the Margaret E. Gragg Educational Center to discuss the possible reopening of school buildings to elementary school students in Watauga County. The board will take a vote tonight to determine if Watauga County will allow elementary school children to return to the classroom. Governor Roy Cooper announced that students in grades K-5 could return to schools for daily, in-person instruction in the classroom starting on October 5. “We’re able to open this option because most North Carolinians have doubled down on our safety and prevention measures and stabilized our numbers. The science of lower viral spread among younger children also backs up this decision,” Gov. Cooper said during a media briefing on Thursday. By Nathan Ham / Read more…



  • Appalachian State Reporting 202 Total COVID-19 Cases; Spring Break Already Canceled in 2021


    August 26, 2020 Appalachian State University is reporting 202 students, employees, and contractors that have tested positive for COVID-19 since March 27. Despite rumors of moving all classes to online instruction, the campus is still continuing with in-person classes as of Wednesday. At this time there were 41 active cases on campus. “The decision to welcome students back to campus was guided not only by our desire to give students the Appalachian Experience they hoped for but also by recommendations from public health officials and the UNC System,” said Appalachian State Chancellor, Dr. Sheri Everts. “Across the nation, the operations of colleges and universities face daily uncertainties. These first few days are critical in ensuring we are able to flatten App State’s curve. We must all be diligent following the 3Ws, and limiting social gatherings to small numbers.” By Nathan Ham / Read more…



  • Appalachian State Continuing With In-Person Class Instruction For Now; 40 Students Currently Have Active COVID-19 Cases

    August 19, 2020 In a message from Appalachian State Chancellor Dr. Sheri Everts on Monday afternoon, it appears that Appalachian State will continue to offer in-person classes for the time being. UNC-Chapel Hill made the decision to discontinue classroom sessions and return to an entirely online learning format, becoming the first school in the UNC System to made the switch back to online classes only. “The decision to adapt operations applies to UNC-Chapel Hill only because no other UNC System institution has reported information, at this time, that would lead to similar modifications,” said UNC System President, Peter Hans, in a statement. “All students must continue to wear facial coverings and practice social distancing as part of their personal responsibility, particularly in off-campus settings. Taking personal responsibility and enforcing community standards are essential for the success of this semester and for protecting public health. Each campus is different, and I expect situations to evolve differently. In any circumstance, we will be grounded by reliable public health data and prevailing local health conditions. I will continue to stay in close contact with our chancellors and fully support their efforts to fulfill our core educational mission in safe learning environments.” By Nathan Ham / Read more…



  • Classes Begin Online for Watauga County K-12 Students and In-Person for Appalachian State University Students

    August 17, 2020 Monday marked a back-to-school moment that many students and parents will never forget. Watauga County Schools returned with virtual classes to open the fall semester while Appalachian State started its fall semester with a mix of in-person and online classes. Freshmen and returning students crowded the roadways last week to move into campus residence halls and off-campus rental properties in preparation for the school year. Students and staff at App State are required to wear face coverings while in classrooms and all other locations where social distancing is not possible. For the public school system, Watauga had initially planned on a “2×3 Flex Schedule” where students would go to class for in-person instruction two days a week and online instruction three days a week. However, as COVID-19 positive infections continued to increase in the county, the school board returned to entirely online instruction.  By Nathan Ham / Read more…



  • Watauga County Schools Implements Extra Health and Safety Precautions


    August 14, 2020  As teachers and other employees returned to work in school buildings on August 11, Watauga County Schools staff had its first chance to fully employ the district’s stringent health, safety, and screening procedures for its facilities. As teachers and staff prepare to start the school year Aug. 17, anyone entering a school facility — employee or visitor —  must pass a temperature screening at the door. They are also required to answer a series of questions that assess their potential exposure to COVID-19. All staff inside school buildings are required to wear masks at all times except when teachers are alone in their classrooms conducting virtual lessons. Alongside the involved screening measures at school entrances, the district has also implemented a number of enhanced cleaning and safety procedures around school facilities as a whole.  / Read more…



  • App State to Require Students, Faculty and Staff to Complete Online Daily Health Check for Access to Campus

    August 14, 2020 As part of classes resuming and students returning to campus for the fall semester, Appalachian State University will be requiring students, faculty, and staff members to administer daily health checks on their mobile devices or computers to receive a “passport” to be on campus for that day. According to the university, each person will fill out a simple questionnaire about how they are feeling and if they have any COVID-19 symptoms. If the individual is not sick, they will receive a passport for that date that will last through midnight of that day to have access to places on campus. If the person answers that they may have COVID-19 symptoms, they will not be cleared to access campus and will be asked to stay home or seek medical attention. Students may be asked to show their passports to their instructor to get into class and all faculty and staff members may be asked to show their passports to their supervisors when entering a classroom, workplace, or campus facility. The passport can be viewed on a smartphone or tablet or printed off to be carried at all times for that day. By Nathan Ham / Read more…



  • Appalachian State Students Begin Moving in Next Week with Classes Starting on August 17

    August 7, 2020 A new way of campus life and a mixture of online and in-person classes will await students as they begin moving in on Monday, August 10 in preparation for the fall semester starting on August 17. The other public universities in the UNC System are beginning class on Monday, however, Appalachian State’s semester will begin the following week to make sure the newest student housing projects are completed in time. Freshmen and transfer students will move in on August 10-13 while returning students will move in on August 14-16. “I am proud of the way we have adapted to the challenges of this global pandemic, which has challenged every aspect of daily university life — from how we live and learn, to how we engage and educate,” said App State Chancellor Dr. Sheri Everts in a weekly email update to faculty, students and staff. By Nathan Ham / Read more…



  • Watauga County Schools Hires Tech Director and Cove Creek Principal


    July 29, 2020  At its July meeting, the Watauga County Board of Education approved the hire of two leadership positions within Watauga County Schools, appointing a Dr. Alison Schleede Director of Technology and Scott Carter as principal of Cove Creek School. Schleede takes the helm of Watauga County Schools’ technology department after the retirement of Nancy Zeiss while Carter is set to take over from Mary Smalling, who has filled as principal of Cove Creek School since earlier this year. Schleede comes to Watauga County Schools from Knightdale High School where she taught American History. She has served in various capacities across the state as a technology facilitator, teacher, principal, and assistant principal. Schleede earned her bachelor’s degree in history from the University of New York College at Brockport. She went on to earn a Master’s in instructional technology education from East Carolina University and an Ed. D. in education leadership from Wingate University.  / Read more…



  • Watauga County School Board Hosting Emergency Meeting on Tuesday Evening

    July 27, 2020 The Watauga County Board of Education will hold an emergency meeting on Tuesday, July 28 at 5 p.m. The meeting will be held in person with appropriate precautions taken for the health and safety of the public. The purpose of the meeting is for the board to hear an update on school reopening planning and to consider taking action on an updated recommendation for the return to in-person instruction. The public may offer comments to the board either in person or via email to Superintendent Scott Elliott at [email protected] The deadline for submitting comments is 4:30 PM on July 28, 2020. / Read more…



  • Watauga County Schools Receiving Positive Feedback on Fall Semester Reopening Plan

    July 24, 2020 As the old saying goes, you’re not going to make everyone happy. With the first day of school now less than a month away, Watauga County Schools continue to prepare for Plan B of reopening school buildings at 50-percent capacity. They have received a good amount of positive feedback so far. “We’ve gotten a great deal of support from parents and community members as we’ve planned our reopening. It’s a community-wide effort to solved a hugely complicated issue that doesn’t have a best-size-fits-all answer,” said Garrett Price, the Director of Communications for Watauga County Schools. “We’ve gotten extremely useful feedback from parents and staff through a number of surveys regarding reopening plans that have been instrumental as we’ve worked out details specific to Watauga.” The “2×3 Flex Schedule” plan will have half the students at each school attend class on Monday and Tuesday and the other half attend on Thursday and Friday. Wednesday will be a remote learning day for all students, and when the students are not in the school building, they will be participating in remote learning the other two days of the week. By Nathan Ham / Read more…



  • Eagle Scout Project Restores Bethel School Bell That Has Been at the School Since the 1930s


    July 22, 2020  When rising Watauga High School Senior Logan Sturgill set out to find an Eagle Scout Project, he was immediately drawn toward work that could have a positive impact on Watauga County Schools — the system where he’s attended since pre-Kindergarten at Mabel School. Sturgill contacted WCS Superintendent Scott Elliott to express interest in doing a project which would also benefit one of the schools in some way. Elliott solicited ideas from the school system’s principals, and then put Sturgill in touch with Bethel Principal Brian Bettis. Bethel School is home to a very large but long-neglected school bell that was placed at Bethel School when the building was first constructed by the Works Progress Administration in the 1930s. Over the years since its original construction, remodeling at Bethel School saw the bell removed from its perch atop the building and stored in the school courtyard, where it has been largely unprotected from the elements for years. / Read more…



  • School Reopening Plans Continue to Come Together with First Day of School a Month Away

    July 17, 2020 Schools in Watauga County and every other part of the state are finalizing their plans on how they will proceed to reopen once schools start next month. The first day for Watauga County students will be Monday, August 17 and the current plan is to reopen schools with a “2×3 Schedule.” The 2×3 Schedule is designed to allow half of the students to attend school on Monday and Tuesday while the other half will attend on Thursday and Friday. Wednesday will be a remote learning day for all students. “In total, all students have three days of remote learning at home each week,” said Garrett Price, the Director of Communications for Watauga County Schools. Remote learning options will be available for all students where parents will have a choice of sending their students to school on a part-time basis or keeping them at home for full-time remote learning, according to Watauga County Superintendent Dr. Scott Elliott. Elliott shared that information in an interview with Boone Chamber of Commerce CEO/President David Jackson on Tuesday. By Nathan Ham / Read more…



  • Watauga County Schools Adopting ‘2×3 Schedule’ to Open 2020-21 School Year in August

    July 15, 2020 Following Governor Roy Cooper’s announcement on Tuesday afternoon that all North Carolina K-12 public schools would open under what has been called Plan B with 50 percent school building capacity and required face coverings, Watauga County Schools unveiled their “2×3 Schedule” for how they will begin the year. “Since the governor made the announcement that schools will open on Plan B, we’ve been working to prepare Watauga-specific information for staff, teachers and parents. We will be opening on what we’re calling our 2×3 schedule with significant social distancing and cleaning protocols,” said Garret Price, the Director of Communications for Watauga County Schools. The 2×3 Schedule is designed to allow half of the students to attend school on Monday and Tuesday while the other half will attend on Thursday and Friday. Price said that Wednesday will be a remote learning day for all students. By Nathan Ham / Read more…



  • Appalachian State Grappling With How to Handle Classroom Return this Fall for Students and Faculty

    July 13, 2020 It appears that colleges and universities in the UNC System are waiting alongside public K-12 schools for a final decision on how to handle a return to the classroom for the fall semester of 2020. On Friday, Appalachian State University Chancellor Dr. Sheri Everts released an update about the current academic vision for how App State will open up with COVID-19 cases continuing to pile up across the country. “We are considering all possible scenarios and confirming as many specifics as possible while also awaiting further guidance from Governor Cooper and the UNC System. Governor Cooper’s announcement expected next week about the next steps of his phased reopening plan will be an important indicator for us. I appreciate the collegiality of our faculty and staff, and the patience of our students, as we all work toward the best solution for continuing instruction in the fall. I know all of us want the safest possible learning environment and I appreciate those who are working on this,” Everts said in last week’s update. By Nathan Ham / Read more…



  • Gov. Roy Cooper Delays Announcement on School Reopening Plan for 2020-21 Academic Year

    July 1, 2020 Parents, students and teachers were expecting an announcement to come on Wednesday afternoon about how North Carolina public schools would plan to reopen in August. That announcement has been delayed, according to a press release provided by Gov. Cooper’s office. The news was first reported Tuesday night by WRAL TV. No additional info has been provided yet as to when the announcement might be made in the future. A press briefing at 3 p.m. today from the Coronavirus Taskforce will still take place as scheduled. In June, each school district in North Carolina was told to be prepared for three different scenarios for reopening schools in the fall. Plan A would include minimal social distancing and students returning to the classrooms. Plan B would include social distancing measures with schools operating at 50 percent capacity. Plan C would be schools providing all education through online learning and school buildings remaining closed. By Nathan Ham / Read more…



  • Avery and Watauga County Schools Prepare for State Guidance on Reopening Schools; Lees-McRae Focusing on Fall Semester

    June 29, 2020 Avery County Schools Superintendent Dan Brigman spoke at a meeting on June 25 discussing what the education system could look like in the upcoming school year, which begins August 17. On July 1, the North Carolina Board of Education and Department of Public Instruction are prepared to release operational plans for the upcoming 2020-21 school year. The DPI has released three plans ranging from normal class schedules with increased health monitoring and building cleaning to entirely at-home remote learning. The three different scenarios of levels of operation to reopen that could be implemented for schools include Plan A: Minimal Social Distancing, Plan B: Moderate Social Distancing or Plan C: Remote Learning. By Harley Nefe / Read more…



  • Watauga County Schools are Asking Parents to Complete a Survey on Reopening Plans for August

    June 19, 2020 Watauga County Schools are looking for feedback from parents on their thoughts on the current plan to reopen schools for the 2020-21 school year in August. The school system also released a video highlighting North Carolina’s plan for how schools should reopen in the fall. For parents interested in taking the survey, it is available by going to www.wataugaschools.org/coronavirus or clicking the survey direct link here.  / Read more…



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