RANDOLPH COUNTY — A clearer picture of what the 2021-22 school year in Randolph County will look like was provided Monday at the regular July meeting of Randolph County Board of Education.

Superintendent Stephen Gainey updated the board on a series of procedural changes from the previous academic year, highlighted by the maintaining of some and the lifting of other COVID-19-related stipulations.

“I think everybody is eager to get back to what we knew school as before March 14, 2020,” Gainey said. “Before we just completely open back up, I think we need to maintain some standards so we can make what our goal is, of five days of in-person instruction for all students, from the start.”

Gainey said the district’s goal of all students on campus for in-person instruction five days per week depends on adherence to a few of the policies that were in place last year. Until further notice, the following will be implemented with the start of the school year late next month.

The same rules for contact tracing will remain in place, just as they were enacted at the end of the 2020-21 school year. Lunch visits by parents will not be permitted to start the 2021-22 school year.

Students will be dropped off at the door by parents. Gainey left the door open for the possibility in the future for parents to walk kids into their classrooms, but not from the start of the year.

Guest speakers and field trips will not be permitted to start off the year. The cafeteria will be open for students to eat lunch in from the outset.

In-person staff meetings will resume. Middle and high school athletics will begin the year on a normal schedule. Capacity limits of gymnasiums and auditoriums will be followed as mandated by the state.

The superintendent briefly reflected at the meeting on what he has publicly discussed as one of the most difficult of his professional career, contrasting it with what he believes is a brighter future ahead. In discussing bridging the gap in education over the last 16 months, he applauded the efforts of students, parents and staff.

“I don’t know where we would have been if we hadn’t started school last year,” Gainey said. “I was absolutely lost from March 14, 2020 to the end of the 19-20 year. I would ride to my office in the morning, not very far from my house. I would realize that there were no students in school and as that spring went on, there were very few staff members in school, because we started encouraging people to work from home as the numbers increased.

“So I am so proud of what we did last year. I’m so proud of the staff members, because I know that many of the staff members were nervous, but they came back for the kids. That’s our core business. So we have to move forward. We have to.”

Staff writer Daniel Kennedy can be reached at 336-888-3578, or at dkennedy@atnonline.net.

Staff writer Daniel Kennedy can be reached at 336-888-3578, or at dkennedy@atnonline.net.