QUESTION: Is the Alamance-Burlington school system planning to start the new school year on Monday with remote instruction (i.e., online) – instead of in-person? I’m hearing that ABSS principals are telling teachers when they come on campus to get their Chromebooks and any other supplies they may need for remote instruction.
ANSWER: ABSS officials vehemently denied this week that there’s any plan in the works to begin the new school year on Monday, September 11, with remote instruction – i.e., the online instruction that had been used by all ABSS schools at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, from April 2020 until March 2021.
ABSS superintendent Dr. Dain Butler offered his assurances to Alamance County’s commissioners, during their nearly daylong meeting on Tuesday, that students would not begin the new school year remotely due to ongoing problems with mold contamination.
ABSS public information officer Les Atkins also tried to debunk the rumor Wednesday, telling The Alamance News, “We always encourage teachers to take their laptops. There has been no talk about going remote.”
UPDATE: ABSS has since announced that schools will reopen on Monday, September 11 with a three-hour delay.
Asked what had happened to the mobile hotspots – devices which enable computer users in rural locations with spotty or no internet service to log onto the web – that ABSS purchased in the spring of 2020, at the height of the Covid pandemic, Atkins confirmed that the school system still has 400 hotspots on hand.
“They’re here, but they don’t have minutes on them,” the PIO said. “They work like Tracfones, so those minutes have expired. We would have to activate them and add minutes to them.”
Atkins said that coming up with the money to add minutes to the hotspots would mean that ABSS officials would have to request additional funds from Alamance County’s commissioners in order to reactivate service for the devices. He said he didn’t know how much that could cost.
Atkins emphasized, “We have no plan to go remote. These aren’t even things we’re thinking about – we’re planning to be back in our buildings on Monday.”