GUILFORD COUNTY — The Guilford County Board of CommissionersThursday night approved funding to expand extended learning programs during Guilford County Schools’ summer break.
At its regular meeting, the board voted 8-0 to authorize its staff to shift $150,000 from existing COVID-19 initiative funds for vaccines and mitigation to continue the child care program. Vice Chair Carlvena Foster, who directs the Carl Chavis Memorial YMCA in High Point, abstained from voting.
Heather Skeens, director of the Department of Social Services, had asked the board to provide more money to expand the program from June 1 to Aug. 27. Skeens said the extended learning program will help students up to fifth grade “so they will have success over the summer, moving back into their regular school year next year.”
The school system plans to offer summer school for a partial day Monday-Thursday from June through August, Skeens said. The county does not fully know the number of children who will need full-time day care or part-time remote learning, she said.
Board member Kay Cashion asked whether students across the county will be served.
“It seems like 186 is a very small number,” Cashion said. “I would think there would be a lot more children who would need this.”
Skeens said her department is taking extended learning applications from any family in the county that has requested child care. The county has served a total of 280 children since the program began last summer, she said. During the school year, some of those participants have left the extended learning program, which currently has 179 participants. The county partners with about 10 child care programs.
“We know that this has been a very difficult year for our kids and we want to make sure that they have all access to education while their parents continue to work,” Skeens said.
Board member Mary Beth Murphy, a teacher in the school system, said she was glad to see the summer education issue being brought forward.
“There is a tremendous need in our community for families who are looking to return to employment to have a safe place where their children can be five days a week for the full scope of their work days, and where they can be provided with educational activities,” Murphy said.
Board member Carly Cooke expressed concern over any possible uptick in the number of COVID-19 cases going into the summer since all the students would be out of school.
Dr. Iulia Vann, public health director, said the number has slowed to less than 100 new cases per day over the past week.
“Going from 450 to 550 cases a day, staying within the 70 and 80 cases a day range is definitely an improvement,” Vann said. The county also has not seen an increase in COVID-related deaths, Vann said. All of the metrics are moving in the right direction, she said.
Don Campbell, emergency management director, reported 42% of Guilford County residents have had a first vaccine dose and 37% are fully vaccinated.
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