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Guilford delays return for middle schoolers
  • Updated

GUILFORD COUNTY — Guilford County Schools is delaying the start of in-person learning for middle school students by two weeks, the school system announced Thursday.

Elementary school students will return for in-person learning as planned on Tuesday, Jan. 5. Monday, Jan. 4, is a teacher workday.

The first group of sixth-graders originally was scheduled to return on Jan. 7. Instead, those students will start on Thursday, Jan. 21. Middle school students originally scheduled to return for in-person learning on Monday, Jan. 11, will now return on Monday, Jan 25. Middle schoolers will continue with online learning until then.

Officials said middle schools are ready to open, but district administrators want more time to review COVID-19 data and science and health protocols pertinent to the age group of the middle school students. High schools also are scheduled to reopen for in-person learning on Thursday, Jan. 21.

Principals will follow up with families and provide additional information for remote and in-person learning schedules. As with elementary school students, parents of middle and high school students may choose either in-person or remote learning for their children. Request forms were sent prior to winter break. Parents can contact their children’s schools for more information.

Students who require school bus transportation must request it. Bus stop information is posted on the district’s Here Comes the Bus app and in the parent portal of PowerSchool, North Carolina’s student information system. For those who have already requested transportation, bus stop information also is being mailed to students’ homes.

Children who have tested positive for COVID-19, children who have been exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19 or children who are waiting for COVID-19 results should stay at home until cleared by their health care provider or public health. Parents also should inform their school principal or school nurse.

County board makes history
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GUILFORD COUNTY — When Mary Beth Murphy was installed on the Guilford County Board of Commissioners Wednesday morning, women took a majority on the board for the first time.

Vice Chair Carlvena Foster of High Point said the 5-4 majority will make a difference in how the board operates.

“You give us the women majority on this board, so we know that business will be run a little bit different because we pay a lot of attention to detail and we form a different kind of bond,” she said.

Foster told The High Point Enterprise she had not expected voters to usher in that majority.

“I think this is a milestone simply because of the challenges we’re facing across our county now,” Foster said. “I think the voters wanted change, based on campaign promises, and education seemed to have been the top one. They were really looking for someone to support the education of our children and the needs of the schools.”

Murphy, a teacher in Guilford County Schools, surprised many by beating two-term incumbent Alan Branson by a razor-thin margin in the District 4 race.

Branson appealed his loss to local and state election officials, delaying Murphy’s installation nearly two months beyond the Nov. 3 election.

Murphy said she was “grateful to have the opportunity to finally represent the people of District 4.”

“I am honored to step into public service and to represent not only District 4 but all of Guilford County. Lots of people leaned in and offered their support,” she said.

Carly Cooke, a newly elected board member representing District 5, told the Enterprise she found it exciting to see Guilford County elect a majority of women to the county board.

“Women often make thoughtful leaders, and we need more of that in government at every level,” Cooke said. “I think this new board will be able to work together to make progress for Guilford County on a number of important issues — partnering with the board of education to support our schools, collaborating with stakeholders to support economic growth in our community and create jobs, and most urgently, bringing our community together with a coordinated plan to keep Guilford County people safe as we continue to make our way through this pandemic.”

Foster said COVID-19 was one of the biggest challenges the county faced through 2020.

“I think families felt that tremendously,” Foster said. “When we looked at the issues as commissioners, we looked at them more from a business standpoint in dollars and cents. I think that now, the board with the women majority and Democratic majority will really be looking at how we can impact lives a little more. Dollars and cents are important, but the well-being and success of the citizens in our county has to be a priority. We have to be able to meet the needs of our people.”

Board members Carolyn Q. Coleman, Kay Cashion, Jason Conrad and Alan Perdue did not attend the swearing-in ceremony. The board’s next work session is set for Thursday, Jan. 7, at 3:30 p.m. with its regular meeting to follow at 5:30 p.m.

cingram@hpenews.com | 336-888-3534 | @HPEcinde

Archdale jazzes up traffic boxes
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Anyone driving through Archdale these days might notice something different about those plain, gray metal traffic boxes placed at streetlight intersections along North Main Street and N.C. 62.

They’re not plain or gray anymore.

The city’s Community Appearance Commission recently covered traffic boxes at 10 intersections in a vinyl 3M wrap featuring a variety of artwork created by students from John Lawrence Elementary School, Braxton Craven Middle School, Archdale-Trinity Middle School, Trinity High School and Wheatmore High School.

The project began in March. After approval was given by the N.C. Department of Transportation, Matthews Mobile Media of Greensboro made and installed the wraps. The city’s planning staff coordinated logistics and encroachments with the N.C. Department of Transportation.

City officials say the wraps will remain on the traffic boxes until the spring of 2022, when they will be replaced with new artwork.

For more information about the project, contact Matthew Wells at mwells@archdale-nc.gov.

Furniture report finds ‘good business’
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HIGH POINT — Retail sales of furniture have risen during the coronavirus pandemic and it’s having a positive impact throughout the industry, according to a new report.

Smith Leonard’s latest Furniture Insights survey of residential furniture manufacturers and distributors found that consumers have continued to spend less on things like travel and entertainment and more on their homes, including furniture.

New orders were up 40% in October, the fifth straight monthly increase after a three-month decline when the pandemic started.

“The significant gains in our surveys of residential furniture manufacturers and distributors over the past few months have really been great for a group of folks that really needed a boost in sales,” the report said. “We do expect that significant growth to slow somewhat in the next few months, but most of (the people) we have talked with seem to believe results will stay positive at least through the first part of the year.”

The October results followed a 43% increase reported in September, as well as spikes of 51% in August, 39% in July and 30% in June.

The survey respondents also reported that furniture shipments were up 8% in October compared to the same month last year.

“It appears that imported goods are starting to flow and shortages of raw materials for domestic manufacturers have started to diminish, though prices of certain materials seem to be rising due to the shortages,” the report said.

One issue companies that rely on imported furniture products face is filling the backlog of orders, which the survey found was 141% higher than October 2019.

That in turn has led to lower inventory levels and delays in getting products to customers at the retail level, the report found.

In addition to supply-chain issues from overseas, companies reported that they continue to face a shortage of workers in the domestic manufacturing sector.

The number of factory and warehouse employees remained 5% below last year.

“Most of the manufacturers we have talked to indicate that finding people is their main issue,” the report said.

pkimbrough@hpenews.com | 336-888-3531