Liz Schlemmer

Education Reporter

Liz Schlemmer is WUNC's Education Reporter, covering preschool through higher education. She has previously served as the Fletcher Fellow for Education Policy Reporting at WUNC and as the education reporter at Louisville Public Media. She holds an M.A. from the Hussman School of Journalism and Media at UNC Chapel Hill and a B.A. in history and anthropology from Indiana University. Liz is originally from rural Indiana, where she grew up with a large extended family of educators.
 

Two African-American students at St. Augustine's University interact in front of a laptop computer.
Courtesy of St. Augustine's University

 

Maria Lumpkin was drawn to St. Augustine's University years ago. She remembers driving into campus for the first time and seeing the historic stone chapel, quarried and built in 1895 by students who were just one generation free from slavery.

The Old Well and flowers on the campus of UNC- Chapel Hill.
Brian Batista / For WUNC

Universities in the UNC System are beginning to release early plans for how they might reopen their campuses to students and faculty in the fall.

Courtesy of Trey Roberts

Over one million North Carolinians have student loan debt, and the average borrower owes about $25,000. Even under normal circumstances, education debt can be prohibitive. 

calculator with the word college
Jake Rustenhoven / Flickr Creative Commons

Josmell Pérez has a master's degree and has gone through the process of buying a home - more than once - but he says it's still hard to wrap his head around student loans.

'The mortgage system, credit cards, other parts of finance make a whole lot more sense," Pérez said.

Courtesy of UNC Chapel Hill Athletic Communications. Photo by Jeffrey A. Camarati.

The cancellation of college and professional sports across the state has impacted fans, stadium employees, nearby businesses, and others, but it might be most devastating for college athletes, some of whom will never get the chance to compete again.

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.

UNC Chapel Hill Counseling and Psychological Services staff. Doctor Allen O'Barr is kneeling farthest to the left in white shirt and beard.
UNC Counseling and Psychological Services

Some universities are expanding their mental health services to reach students remotely.

Doctor Allen O'Barr is director of UNC Chapel Hill's Counseling and Psychological Services. He's been seeing students through confidential online conferences. That allows the office to maintain on-going services and help students cope with new stress or grief related to the coronavirus pandemic.

The National Guard via Flickr. Photo by Sgt. Michael Baltz.

Five faculty members at the East Carolina University College of Nursing are volunteering behind the scenes to identify nurses across the state who can pick up shifts at long term care facilities.

Student, Classroom, school, class
Tom Woodward / Flickr Creative Commons

The pair of COVID-19 recovery bills passed by the North Carolina General Assembly and signed into law by Governor Roy Cooper provide broad relief and numerous funding streams dedicated to K-12 public school students.

Those individual line items - paid for with federal aid - cover a cornucopia of students' needs.

"Today's bills provide for feeding schoolchildren, summer learning programs to help them catch up and funding to purchase computers for students who need them," Cooper said at a press conference.

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

The COVID-19 relief package the governor has now signed into law includes hundreds of millions of dollars in federal aid for North Carolina's K-12 public schools. Those dollars will help schools continue to feed students and reach them through remote instruction.

Sharon Gaber has been named the fifth chancellor of UNC Charlotte.
UNC Charlotte

Sharon Gaber has been named chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. She becomes the university's fifth chancellor after the UNC System Board of Governors approved the hire at a Tuesday special meeting.

Child at computer.
Kevin Jarrett / Flickr - Creative Commons - https://flic.kr/p/igWhB9

As North Carolina education officials plan for how to spend the millions of dollars they expect to receive in state and federal aid, two related needs are rising to the top: computers and internet connection.

Federal Aid On Its Way

North Carolina public schools are expected to receive $390 million in federal aid allocated in the CARES Act to help cope with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

Protesters rally in downtown Raleigh, calling on Governor Roy Cooper to reopen the state.
Kate Medley / For WUNC

County commissioners in several North Carolina counties are urging Governor Roy Cooper to give them the authority to ease stay-at-home orders. Various news outlets report local officials in Gaston, Lincoln and Wilkes counties have reached out to the governor's office.

Courtesy Bevin Strickland

Bevin Strickland is an ICU nurse, a doctoral student at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and a single mother of three. Two weeks ago, she started a temporary position at Mount Sinai hospital, in New York City, one of the nation’s coronavirus hot spots.

North Carolina Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen.
N.C. Department of Public Safety

More North Carolinians have died from COVID-19 in a matter of weeks than of the flu during the entire flu season, which started in September.

State Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen noted at a briefing Monday afternoon that North Carolina's first COVID-19 death occurred on March 24.

"So in less than a month, we've already surpassed flu deaths for this year," she said. "COVID-19 is now the leading cause of death in the United States.

Courtesy of Ty Meyer

For students and educators around the state, this year’s learning is in a state of flux. Public schools are holding out hope that they will reopen their doors before the school year ends. 

Student sits at table doing homework on laptop with hand on forehead, looking frustrated.
Courtesy of Ty Meyer

 


College sophomore Ty Meyer has been spending lots of time in parking lots lately, mostly at McDonald's or his local library. It's often his best option for accessing wifi to turn in homework. One of his NC State University classes requires him to upload video assignments. 

Courtesy of UNC System

The University of North Carolina System is tightening its belt in anticipated billions of lost state tax revenue in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Carrington Middle School teacher and coach Terry McMillan passes a bag filled with multiple school lunches to a family at Lakewood Montessori Middle School in Durham, Monday, April 6.
Liz Schlemmer / WUNC

Public schools across North Carolina have given meals to thousands of students since in-person classes ended for many three weeks ago, but this week's school meals will be the last in Durham.

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.

Nchole Yeo / Flickr

 

Vanessa Barnes has helped students navigate college admissions as a high school guidance counselor for 20 years. She knows all the ins and outs of applications, but her goal is simple.

“My passion is I want kids to be able to go to school,” Barnes said.

Barnes is a member of the North Carolina School Counselor Association, and has worked in both urban and rural schools. She says especially for less advantaged students, college can make all the difference.

ThinkStock

 

The COVID-19 pandemic is having broad financial consequences, and college students are not immune to the effects.

The Statue of Minerva on the campus of UNC Greensboro
Courtesy of UNC Greensboro

While colleges and universities across North Carolina move classes online, administrators are also dealing with the complications that come with reducing on-campus operations.

A picture of UNC grad turning their graduation tassle
UNC-Chapel Hill

College seniors across the University of North Carolina System's 16 universities should expect their spring graduation ceremonies to be delayed, UNC System Interim President Bill Roper announced Friday.

"I know and understand that this will disappoint our students and their families who have worked so hard toward this goal for so many years," Roper said. "But the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff must be our top priority."

Stanly County Public Schools teacher Kristen Herlocker hands a bag lunch to a student at his bus stop.
Kristen Herlocker

Imagine a nine year old kid, stuck at home, who typically eats both breakfast and lunch at school. So what happens if his parents are struggling more than ever, and schools close to prevent the spread of COVID-19?

Amia Byrd, 7, looks at the book Rapunzel in the children's section at the Richard B. Harrison Community Library on July 9, 2018.
Madeline Gray / For WUNC

Families across North Carolina are adjusting to a new way of life — and of learning. 

Laptop computer
Ian Usher / Flickr

University professors across North Carolina are preparing to transition to online classes to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

A sign indicates a no-student drop-off zone with Wake County public school buses in the background.
Brian Batista / For WUNC

 

Governor Roy Cooper has issued an executive order requiring all K-12 public schools across North Carolina to close for at least two weeks, beginning Monday, to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Sharon Collins and Pat Garavaglia co-own Balloons and Tunes in Carrboro. After weathering 40 years in business, they're worried about what impact the coronavirus will have on their event-based store.
Liz Schlemmer / WUNC

As universities and corporations cancel events and people stay home to prevent the spread of COVID-19, some small businesses are already suffering from the economic impact of the virus.

UNC Greensboro education student Shelby Morris reads "Freedom On The Menu" to a Girl Scout troop visiting the International Civil Rights Center and Museum.
Liz Schlemmer / WUNC

On a recent Saturday, the International Civil Rights Center and Museum at the old Woolworth's in Greensboro was buzzing with visitors. This year, the museum is celebrating the 60th anniversary of the lunch counter sit-ins there that ignited a movement. 

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