The Caldwell County School Board on Monday approved using non-traditional instruction days, known as NTI days, during the 2020-21 school year when needed.
Superintendent Nate Huggins said that using NTI days was not the best format for learning, but it is a good way to learn when situations call for students to be at home.
“I think we all agree that it is not the best platform for our students to learn, but it is a platform (for) situations that we cannot control, like COVID-19, for example,” he said. “We have to be prepared to go into that format if we have to.”
Huggins said the number of NTI days would likely be as needed for the duration of any COVID-19 events in the next school year. Originally, districts were limited to 10 NTI days in a school year and generally used when schools were closed by weather, but that was amended by the state legislature this school year to allow students to learn from home over the last nine weeks of school.
Huggins added that the 2020-21 NTI days are not to be used in place of snow days and that any snow days would be made up during or after the time that school is in session.
“If we miss two snow days, we add two snow days to the calendar,” he said. “But if we have to stay away from school due to social distancing, if we have another outbreak of COVID-19, we’re going to have to use this kind of platform to continue our education process.”
Board member Kim Cook asked about getting teachers certified in teaching using Google for instruction. Gretchen Wetzel, the district director of instruction, told Cook that there were 30 Caldwell County teachers who were certified and that certification did not take long to achieve.
“Any time we can expand your knowledge of technology — especially working in the classroom — is a plus,” Huggins said. “We encouraged a lot of teachers to take the Google classroom during the COVID-19 situation.”
Huggins said that the district is ordering more Chrome books for students to use this year, enabling more students to take classes at home if needed.
In other school board news, Seth Mitchell was sworn in at the start of the meeting to fulfill the remainder of Kim Jackson’s term as a representative of District 5. That term expires Dec. 31.
The board also approved the amendment of the 2019-20 calendar to reflect the actions taken when school was shut down in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The board approved Dugiud, Gentry and Associates as the auditor for the 2019-20 school year. Huggins said the firm has done the audit for the school district for the last six years.