BY JEFF JAMES
Iredell-Statesville Schools returned to full-time face-to-face learning in pre-K through 12th grade on April 7.
For many students, April 7 was like the “first day of school” with hundreds of students stepping foot onto an I-SS campus for the first time in over a year. The pandemic has certainly taken a toll on many lives, our community, and been a personal tragedy for far too many people.
The Iredell-Statesville Schools District is proud to partner with the ABC Science Collaborative and Duke Medical. Since the summer of 2020, I-SS has met regularly with our friends at Duke to make sure we are on the cutting edge of research and best practices as it relates to COVID-19 and getting students back into classrooms. Our return to school campuses while other districts remained closed was a direct result of the work we did with our friends at Duke Medical.
Even with our early return to school in the fall of 2020 for K-5, we have worried about employees who are at risk, students who are at risk, and the possibility of promulgating the spread of the virus in our buildings. It has taken an effort on everyone’s part to ensure that we have been successful thus far. As we return to school five days a week in grades K-12, we will continue to be vigilant in following our COVID-19 safety protocols.
Although the vast majority of our students have chosen to return to our campuses, the Board of Education and I understand that some families have chosen for their children to remain virtual for numerous reasons. As always, our school system strives to provide multiple options across the education service spectrum.
As we plan for the coming school year, we will continue to explore school choice options for our students. Of course, we plan to return to school full-time for grades Pre-K-12 in the fall.
Iredell-Statesville Schools has offered Virtual Iredell-Statesville Schools (VISS) for several years. Although VISS hasn’t been a “mainstream” option for most of our 20,000 students, it is and will continue to be an option for all. VISS allows us to pay I-SS teachers to teach virtual classes, some receiving compensation for teaching additional sections over their regular load while giving our students access to local teachers and support they cannot get with programs like North Carolina Virtual Public Schools (NCVPS). VISS allows many students to fill a gap in their schedule or challenge themselves to take additional courses in a variety of course offerings.
College and Career Promise (CCP) classes are another option for high school students, and, in my opinion, a great option for any student wanting to take college courses for credit. We have students who have completed a two-year degree by taking CCP courses at Mitchell Community College. In many cases, this is two years of their four-year degree, making college more affordable.
Finally, our I-Academy is a learning option specifically designed with homeschools in mind. We offer K-5 and 6-12 instruction and support for homeschool students. This allows families that wish to tailor their child’s learning content by allowing some at-home instruction with the support of licensed I-SS teachers. Many families find this is a great opportunity to learn at home and also integrate opportunities to socialize with same-aged peers. Students need to enroll in two courses K-5 and three courses for 6-12 to be eligible for sports, field trips, extra-curricular courses, and more.
For middle and high school students, we offer Career Technical Education (CTE) courses, something most homeschools cannot provide. Many of our older homeschool students choose to enroll in some Career and College Promise courses at Mitchell Community College.
Iredell-Statesville Schools continues to listen and address our community needs. Your voice matters, as it is your school system. Please ask us about our many offerings and our flexible options. Visit our website at www.issnc.org.
Dr. Jeff James is the superintendent for Iredell-Statesville Schools.