WASHINGTON, D.C. — Forsyth County Schools Superintendent Jeff Bearden shared insights on re-opening schools as a panelist for the National Dialogue on Safely Reopening America’s Schools held July 7 at the White House.
The day-long event included panel discussions among K-12 educators, college/university representatives, students, and parents from across the country. It also included input from government and health officials, including Second Lady Karen Pence, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield, and Ambassador Dr. Deborah Birx, a member of the Coronavirus Task Force.
During a panel discussion focused on local systems, Bearden said Forsyth Schools is on schedule to open Aug. 6. The goal is to have as many students as possible return to school for face-to-face instruction.
“We hope they do return, and when they do there will be [safety] guidelines in place,” Bearden said. “Challenges create opportunities and we have likely never been challenged like this in the history of public education.”
He stressed the keys to a successful school year are “flexibility, adaptability and be prepared to pivot.” The district will offer a remote learning option for students who choose not to return to face-to-face instruction.
Bearden agreed with every member of the panel who recommended in-person learning is the optimal choice for students. While many teachers were able to keep students at a high learning level last spring, some struggled in a virtual environment of teaching. He fears the “summer slide” of lost learning over the summer to compound the loss of knowledge for students
“[Schools] are a people business and a relationship business,” Bearden said. “We need to focus on that and [ensure] home schools and community schools work as partners.”