Cole del Charco

Fletcher Fellow

Cole del Charco is WUNC’s Fletcher Fellow for education policy reporting. He grew up in Hickory, North Carolina, graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill with a B.A. from the School of Media and Journalism and spent his first year out of college working with WFAE, Charlotte’s NPR member station. Cole loves pine trees, sunny days and the mountains of North Carolina.

Tweets at @ColedelCharco

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Cole del Charco / WUNC

High school graduations across the state have taken a different form due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, as drive-throughs and virtual celebrations became the norm. Instead of walking across a stage, shaking hands and throwing caps into the air, the class of 2020 had to find new ways to celebrate.

Courtesy of Shayla Stewart

High school seniors are missing out on final milestones, performances and events that'd normally help mark the end of a signifcant chapter in their lives. For Shayla Stewart, a senior graduating from Western Guilford High School in Greensboro, missing prom is just one of the things she was looking forward to.

Christopher Holliday

The pandemic has had an especially harsh impact on high school seniors in North Carolina. They've missed events they can't get back, like final performances, sports seasons, proms and graduations. Still, many have shown resilience and hopefulness.

Virginia Hardy, East Carolina University vice chancellor of student affairs.
ECU

East Carolina University celebrated graduation online Friday morning. It's one of a number of modified college graduation ceremonies taking place in the state this weekend.

Ethan Guentensberger

The pandemic has had an especially harsh impact on high school seniors in North Carolina. They've missed events they can't get back, like final performances, sports seasons, proms and graduations. Still, many have shown resilience and hopefulness.

ICU bed modeling during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sheps Center for Health Services Research

Updated modeling shows social distancing is working, and the spread of the coronavirus has slowed in North Carolina.

But that doesn't mean the state is in the clear.

Courtesy Brooke Cox

The pandemic has had an especially harsh impact on high school seniors in North Carolina. They've missed events they can't get back, like final performances, sports seasons, proms and graduations. Still, many have shown resilience and hopefulness.

WUNC reporter Cole del Charco has been collecting some of their stories, and will share them on a regular basis over the next few weeks. The first perspective comes from senior Brooke Cox from South Point High School in Belmont.

North Carolina Emergency Management Director Mike Sprayberry
N.C. Department of Public Safety

In a briefing Monday afternoon, state Emergency Management Director Mike Sprayberry said North Carolina has much of the personal protective equipment needed for healthcare workers to conduct ongoing COVID-19 testing.

A view of Glenwood South, a normally bustling part of downtown Raleigh, almost completely empty due to COVID-19.
Jason deBruyn / WUNC

Governor Roy Cooper is responding to the new guidelines for reopening the country announced by President Trump. 

In a state briefing Friday afternoon, Cooper said he was glad to see that the president's criteria largely mirror what North Carolina is doing. And the governor said decisions about easing restrictions will depend on testing.

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

The state is considering how and when residents and businesses will be able to return to life as normal, even if normal will be forever changed. 

While officials in the Cooper administration point out the coronavirus will be a threat until there's a vaccine, they acknowledge current social distancing policies can't go on forever.

A facemask created by a 3D printer at N.C. State University.
N.C. State University

Amid a national shortage of personal protective equipment during the coronavirus pandemic, UNC experts say health care systems may have to mitigate the problem by re-using PPE or producing supply from available materials.

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

Governor Roy Cooper addressed questions Monday afternoon about the timeline for loosening social distancing measures and getting North Carolina businesses up and running again. 

Cooper said his administration is considering how and when to ease up to boost the economy while still preventing hospitals from being overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients.

Photo: The state Department of Public Instruction revealed a dramatic drops in student performance on standardized tests.
sandersonhs.org

With K-12 schools operating remotely because of COVID-19, the state has taken the extraordinary step of easing grading and testing requirements. Here’s what that means for public school students.

Helen Pettiford

In the Pettiford family, everyone goes to school every day. Or at least they used to. The parents, Helen and Joseph, are both teachers. And their five-year-old daughter Lyla, is in preschool.

Student practices wheel throwing in an East Carolina University ceramics class.
Courtesy of East Carolina University

Teachers and college professors have been given a huge challenge this month -- how to quickly adapt their classes for long-distance learning. North Carolina teachers are getting creative to engage their students.

children reading
U.S. Navy / Wikimedia Commons

Advocacy groups that lobby for the well-being of young children have written a letter to Governor Roy Cooper and N.C. Health and Human Services Director Mandy Cohen urging them to close all child care facilities.

Leaders of N.C. Early Education Coalition, NC Child, and N.C. Association for the Education of Young Children say that forcing employees of day-care facilities to work puts the health of kids, their families, and the workers themselves at risk.

WCPSS

North Carolina public school buildings are now closed until at least May 15, but educators are still working to teach students remotely. 

Wake County Public Schools is one of a number of districts across the state providing a website with online resources to give parents and students some guidance on how to maintain learning during this unprecedented time away from the classroom. You can find the website here

classroom
Malate269 / Wikimedia Commons

The rate of crime in schools has gone down for the third year in a row. Education leaders on the State Board of Education discussed the findings in their monthly meeting in Raleigh on Thursday.

Both the number of reportable crimes and the rate of crime on school campuses decreased in the 2018-19 year. The rate of crime decreased nine percent between 2018 and 2019.

It’s also the first year no school in North Carolina used corporal punishment, after the final two districts using it banned the practice after the 2017-18 school year.

Google Street View

The State Board of Education has renewed the charter for Kestrel Heights Elementary and Middle School in Durham. The school had sought a 10-year renewal, just a few years after having to close its high school because it awarded diplomas to students who had not completed the required coursework. Forty percent of its graduates were awarded these diplomas over several years.

Cole del Charco / WUNC

How teachers end up in the profession, and how they progress in their careers, was a main focus of the State Board of Education's February meeting.

The January 2020 State Board of Education meeting room empties out as the board goes into closed session.
Cole del Charco / WUNC

When North Carolina voters go to the polls on Super Tuesday, they will be faced with making a preliminary selection on who should be the next Superintendent of Public Instruction. It’s a position that directs an enormous amount of state and other funds. But it’s also a role that is poorly defined, and, currently, a source of contention.

The January 2020 State Board of Education meeting room empties out as the board goes into closed session.
Cole del Charco / WUNC

The State Board of Education and State School Superintendent are clashing again over a contract for a K-3 reading diagnostic tool.

Cole del Charco / WUNC

Governor Roy Cooper has created a task force to address an ongoing concern in public schools across North Carolina -- a lack of diversity among the state’s teachers. 

Image of Kevin Guskiewicz
Courtesy UNC Office of the Chancellor

The University of  North Carolina Board of Governors voted today for Interim UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz to step into the role permanently. 

photo of an apple on top of books
Kate Ter Haar / Creative Commons

The State Board of Education turned down a charter school application from a group that wants to serve indigenous students in Robeson County.

Cole del Charco / WUNC

Teachers in North Carolina are going without a pay raise until at least next year.  That’s after the General Assembly and Governor couldn’t come to an agreement on a budget this past session, or even a so-called mini-budget, focused on teacher pay. 

A water fountain inside a hallway at a school at Chapel Hill Carrboro Public Schools.
Brian Batista / For WUNC

The difference between making and missing reporting deadlines for federal compliance can be slim. That’s why having personnel who do evaluations of exceptional children on staff is helpful. But many North Carolina districts can’t afford to.

A hallway with a row of red lockers at a public school in Durham.
Brian Batista / For WUNC

Board of Education officials in Johnston County are struggling to fill an almost $9 million dollar budget shortfall.  The board will ask county commissioners for more money at the Dec. 2 meeting.

Cole del Charco / WUNC

Earlier this semester, students in sixth grade at St. Timothy’s School in Raleigh took a trip to the Roman Coliseum and Greek Parthenon. But they did so without ever leaving their classroom.

File photo of UNC Board of Governors Chairman Harry Smith and UNC system President Margaret Spellings responding to questions about the aborted Western Carolina University chancellor search at a July 27, 2018 press conference.
Lisa Philip / WUNC

Harry Smith has announced he's resigning entirely from the UNC  System Board of Governors.

Smith stepped down as chairman in September but said at the time he planned to remain on the board.

On Monday, he said he's decided to relinquish his board seat completely in February to focus more on the private equity firm he started.

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