Education

This section collects Education stories from WUNC News & other sources.

Liz Schlemmer / WUNC

 

Walking through the University of North Carolina Wilmington’s campus, some things feel like a normal fall semester, with familiar sights like student volunteers running a voter registration drive.

Other things look very different.

Union County Public Schools

More than 60% of North Carolina’s student population attends school in a district that started the fall quarter with remote-only instruction. But some county school districts, including Buncombe, Onslow, Gaston, Union and Harnett decided to start the new school year under Plan B, which provides partial in-person instruction.

UNCG, UNC-Greensboro
Jason Simmons, via Flickr / https://bit.ly/34V3jS7

The University of North Carolina at Greensboro is partnering with Native American tribes and two national organizations to increase access to literary resources.

Gerry Broome / AP Photo

At least 3,000 college students in North Carolina have tested positive for the coronavirus since campuses reopened last month for in-person classes, with an overwhelming number of cases coming from just three campuses, an Associated Press analysis shows.

Beer cans, beer bottle and red solo cups on a table
Melissa O'Donohue / Flickr / CC

“Colleges may want to blame student partying for not allowing them to reopen successfully, but they have forfeited the moral authority to do so,” writes former Tar Heel Chancellor Holden Thorp in “The Chronicle of Higher Education.” Alternately decrying and advertising the party scene during his time in university leadership, Thorp confesses that fraternities and sororities play a key role in school finances. 

Flickr/CC

Nearly one of five students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill are the first in their families to attend college. Many first-generation students come from socioeconomically-disadvantaged families and have access to fewer resources and support than their peers. These students are also less likely to graduate — they drop out of college after three years at more than twice the rate of their peers whose parents got a degree. 

Liz Schlemmer

 

 

The gym at Lakewood Elementary in Durham was buzzing earlier this week with families coming to pick up math workbooks, hotspots and laptops on the school’s final day of device distribution.

This is the second week of virtual learning at Durham Public Schools, but distribution was delayed after shipments of Chromebooks were held up at U.S. Customs — one of many unforeseen events in a school year marked by a pandemic.

An image of the bell tower at NCSU
Haruhide000 / Wikipedia Creative Commons

A week after students were told they could stay in their dorms, N.C. State officials have changed course and ordered students to move out of dorm rooms by Sep. 6.

File photo of college students, with the assistance of their families, moving in for the fall semester at N.C. State University in Raleigh, N.C., Friday, July 31, 2020.
Gerry Broome / AP

North Carolina State University told students remaining in university housing to go home Wednesday, acknowledging a rising number of COVID-19 clusters occurring in both on-campus and off-campus housing.

Students sitting on the North Carolina State campus wearing masks and socially distanced.
N.C. State University

Within one month of reopening campuses, positive COVID-19 cases are cropping up throughout the UNC System. Three of the system’s 17 schools have already pivoted to remote instruction: UNC Chapel Hill, East Carolina University and North Carolina State University have all ended in-person instruction, encouraging students to move off campus as soon as possible.

photo of drive-thru coronavirus testing in Chatham County
Staff Sgt. Mary Junell / U.S. Army Photo

While UNC-Chapel Hill moves all of its undergraduate classes online this week due to a recent spike in COVID-19 cases among its students, several other universities in the UNC System are facing smaller outbreaks.

Side photo of a North Carolina Public Schools bus.
NCDOT Communications

About 50 public school districts in North Carolina are returning this week with at least some in-person instruction. That's about one third of all the state's students, mostly in rural areas.

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill made it one week into the fall semester before scrapping plans for in-person instruction.

It's an experience that other large campuses should learn from, Mimi Chapman, chair of the UNC-Chapel Hill faculty, told NPR's All Things Considered on Tuesday.

A photo of a tunnel at the Coker Arboretum in Chapel Hill.
Ildar Sagdejev / Wikimedia Commons

A week after students returned for a combination of in-person and online classes, leadership at UNC-Chapel Hill moved to fully online learning in response to a surge of COVID-19 on campus. The positive testing rate among students rose from 2.8% in the week of Aug. 3 to Aug. 9 to 13.6% in the week of Aug. 10 to Aug. 16. 130 positive cases were reported during that period.

A graphic showing seven different photographs of faces.
Alex Aguilar/Children's Theater of Charlotte

When Ingrid Chen McCarthy tried to talk with her 5-year-old daughter about what happened to George Floyd, she quickly found herself in an awkward and difficult conversation. She inundates her children with messages about treating others with kindness. Simply saying that a Black man was killed by a police officer because of his skin color did not cut it for her daughter. So, how do you explain something like the systematic dehumanization of Black people to kids?

Fifth grade teacher Kelly Shearon teaches students online from her empty classroom at Lakewood Elementary in Durham on the first day of school, August 17, 2020.
Liz Schlemmer / WUNC

As part of WUNC's Series "Unprecedented," Liz Schlemmer will report throughout this semester from Lakewood Elementary in Durham.

North Carolina Public Schools

In the 1990s, Tabari Wallace aspired to a career in the NFL. But during high school, he became a teen father and also found himself overlooked for college recruitment.  With his long-held dream and the future of his young family at stake, Wallace paid a visit to East Carolina University, where he introduced himself to the head football coach and gave him his athletic reel. 

Lakewood Elementary 5th grade teacher Kelly Shearon greets her class on the first day of school
Liz Schlemmer / WUNC

A majority of North Carolina public school districts are returning to school remotely Monday.

UNC Facilities

Students are beginning to arrive back on campuses across the UNC System, and workers are concerned for their own safety amid early accounts of inconsistent mask-wearing and large social gatherings on campuses.

Courtesy Jon Gardiner / UNC-Chapel Hill

A group of university staff and faculty have filed a lawsuit against the UNC System to seek safer working conditions during the coronavirus pandemic. The plaintiffs are asking for a Wake County Superior Court judge to grant them class action status, and to step in on behalf of all UNC System employees.

a green lawn on the campus of St. Augustine's University
St. Augustine's University

A new study shows that healthy food options are limited in the communities around each of the state’s 10 historically Black colleges and universities.

A class photo of fifth graders from the late 60s in front of the U.S. flag. There is an even split of Black and white students, mostly grouped in clumps. In the front row, four girls have their legs crossed.
Courtesy of Janet Perez

How do visually impaired students learn best in a virtual classroom? That is Janet Perez’s job to figure out this year. She is the instructional and assistive technology facilitator at the Governor Morehead School for the Blind in Raleigh. Though she is sighted, Perez has plenty of feedback for web designers to make online learning more accessible (including some flaws on WUNC’s website). 

Shaw University in downtown Raleigh
Jason deBruyn / WUNC

Soon after students were sent home in the spring because of COVID-19, a dozen presidents at historically Black colleges and universities across the country strutted their way in to the Tik-Tok “Don’t Rush Challenge.”

It was a way to show school pride and get a smile out of students who were likely at home on computers, not knowing when or if they would return.

N.C. Governor Roy Cooper and N.C. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen.
N.C. Department of Public Safety

When K-12 public school students in North Carolina resume classes this fall, the vast majority of them will be sitting at home in front of a computer screen.

Allison Swaim

Each summer, WUNC reporters share the coffee station with high school students. The dozen or so youth mingle with our staff and dip their toes into audio storytelling and the weird world of public radio. This year, with our offices closed and the coffee only flowing at home, the Youth Reporting Institute had to shake things up, so they hopped on social media.

Laptop computer
Ian Usher / Flickr

A partnership between Wake County Public Schools, several nonprofits and local governments will provide childcare services for young students as school is set to begin remotely in less than two weeks, on Aug. 17.

Back To School In NC: Keeping COVID-19 Out Of Classrooms

Aug 5, 2020
The words 'Back to School In North Carolina: A Statewide Special' over lockers.
Brooke Bust-Webber/WUNC

Families across North Carolina are preparing to start a new school year in the midst of an ongoing pandemic. Most public school students are starting school online, but each school district around the state is doing things a little bit differently under guidelines released by Gov. Roy Cooper in July.

A graphic featuring four teachers from New Hanover County.
Rachel Keith/WHQR

In-person teaching. Then, no in-person teaching. North Carolina public school teachers had to prepare for both possibilities since school let out in June. And it hasn’t been easy, as school districts across the state have flip-flopped between the two options. In Wilmington, WHQR checked in with some teachers about their fears of returning to the classroom during a pandemic.

A school classroom with desks that are socially distanced.
Keri Brown/WFDD

As schools decide whether or not to hold class in person or online, one big question is at the root of it all — how much is it going to cost? The funding debate has been front and center, from the federal level down to the state and local districts, each playing its own part in planning for the next school year. There are many challenges ahead to keep students learning and everyone safe and all of it comes with a price tag.

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