With about four weeks remaining in the school year, Iredell-Statesville Schools officials are strongly encouraging virtual students who have failing grades to return to the classroom to receive additional help.

In-person students who are failing should contact their principal and/or counselor and let them know about their situation, district officials said.

Superintendent Jeff James stressed that letter grades do count this year. Students who fail courses will not get credit for those courses.

“We aren’t passing you on,” James said. “You are going to get the grade you earned. Unfortunately, we are going to have an abnormal amount of failure.”

According to I-SS Executive Director of Secondary Education Kelly Cooper, parental involvement is critical to improving student performance.

Principals and their staff are utilizing social media platforms and calling parents directly. Social workers and counselors are even making home visits to notify parents of a student’s failing grade or uncharacteristic poor performance.

Additionally, all schools have resources in place to assist the kids who want help. The middle schools have an intervention block and at the high school there are a variety of options to help students to get back on track.

Cooper said that I-SS principals have been asked to communicate with parents to explain that last year the state gave everyone a pass and this year it’s not going to happen.

“Last year it wasn’t within our control. This year we’ve been trying to tell parents and kids that everything counts all year long. If this doesn’t turn around quickly, students run the risk of being retained or (having to attend) summer school,” Cooper said.

Plans are underway for summer school opportunities, and students will be expected to come ready to work and learn.

I-SS will have regional summer school sites at the following locations: North High School, Third Creek Elementary/Middle, Woodland Heights Middle, Lake Norman High, Statesville High, Cloverleaf Elementary and East Elementary.

Officials estimate that more than 500 middle school students and 1,000 high school students might have to attend summer school.

However, Cooper said that these numbers are subject to change if students turn things around.

“This year has been hard for our students and hard for our teachers and staff. I do feel like that we are all basically socially creatures, and that most teachers went into teaching to teach students in the classroom,” Cooper said.

“Our teachers and staff have done a great job to try and make learning as impactful as possible. They have taught kids both in person and remotely, completely virtual and in synchronous learning classrooms. They do not get recognized enough for their hard work,” she added.

Cooper said she’s also proud of the fact that I-SS has been a leader in offering in-person instruction throughout the school year.

At the last school board meeting, James said that this current school year has been very challenging.

“We are one of the premier districts in the state, and have weathered a lot. I occasionally get a few comments from parents that we aren’t doing enough. You really don’t know the midnight oil that’s been burnt and the conversations we’ve had with legislators … pushing to get our kids back to face to face,” the superintendent said.

The Career Technical Education program has expanded its offerings and there are many hands-on learning opportunities and exciting career pathways for students.

“We’ve got a lot of good things to brag about as a district. I would tell kids you can’t get all that from being at home. You get it from plugging into the schools,” James said.

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