Weather Updates & Closure Announcements – September 20

September 20 - Update
 
As Wayne County continues to recover from the impacts of Florence, Wayne County Public Schools (WCPS) has the following updates for students, families and staff:

Tentative Schedule of Operations
This week, WCPS Maintenance, Operations, IT, and School Nutrition staff have worked to restore campuses to working order. All food deliveries are also expected to be completed by Monday, September 24, which will replenish the high losses of food sustained during Florence. While schools will be equipped to handle the return of students and staff, Wayne County roadways in impacted areas are still a major concern for school district and emergency management officials. 

Due to the slow receding of river flooding and a significant number of road closures in impacted areas  – all expected to continue causing road issues into next week –  the Wayne County Emergency Operations Center has requested that WCPS does not reopen schools for students any earlier than Wednesday, September 26. As this date could potentially be pushed further back based on the actual river and road conditions next week, the district administration will remain in close communication with the Wayne County Emergency Operations Center in the event future recommendations and/or requests are made.

As of Thursday afternoon (September 20), WCPS will officially proceed with the following TENTATIVE schedule of operations:
  • Monday, September 24: All WCPS schools will be CLOSED for students. It will be an Optional Workday for staff. The Wayne County Board of Education meeting has been CANCELED, and will be postponed until Monday, October 1.
  • Tuesday, September 25: All WCPS schools will be CLOSED for students. It will be an Optional Workday for staff. 
  • Wednesday, September 26: All WCPS schools will be OPEN for students and staff. A 2-Hour Delay will be held to give bus drivers the opportunity to start their routes with daylight. This is especially important for those drivers in areas still impacted by road closures who will be navigating buses along unfamiliar routes, roadways and/or detours for the first time. The Early Dismissal scheduled for the Traditional Academic Calendar has been CANCELED. All schools will dismiss at their regular time. 
  • Thursday, September 27:2-Hour Delay will be held to continue giving bus drivers the opportunity to start their routes with daylight.
  • Friday, September 28: All WCPS schools will operate on their regular hours of operation.
  • Monday, October 1: The Wayne County Board of Education will hold its September Board Meeting. The Board will meet in the Executive Boardroom of the WCPS Administrative Offices on Royall Avenue. Closed session begins at 3:00 p.m. followed by open session. 
All schools will remain CLOSED through Sunday, September 23. This means, all athletic practices/competitions, facility rentals, driver education classes, and any other school sponsored activities are CANCELED.  

“We recognize that this schedule is completely dependent on the slow but continued improvements expected for rivers and roadways next week,” states Dr. Michael Dunsmore, WCPS superintendent. “In the event this schedule has to change, WCPS will work to provide 48 hours notice to WCPS families so they can plan accordingly. Staff who are unable to report to work next week due to being displaced, river flooding, or road closures should contact their immediate supervisor to make them aware.”

Meeting Student/Staff Needs
WCPS is working to identify the needs of our students before they return to school. Beginning Friday, September 21, families who have been impacted and/or displaced by Florence can make the district aware of their needs by contacting the WCPS Student Needs Hotline at 919-705-6158 from 8:00 AM until 5:00 PM. The district will operate this hotline for the next few weeks. Parents can also go to the district website, www.waynecountyschools.org to complete a Student Needs Survey to provide this same information.   

“Based on our experience with Hurricane Matthew, and what we are now seeing with Florence, we know that student and staff needs will vary from school to school,” adds Dr. Dunsmore. “Our school crisis teams, made up of school counselors, school psychologists, and school social workers will be in place next week to provide supports for those students and staff dealing with a high level of stress and other challenges as a result of the circumstances they are now faced with.”

Staff members who have personal or family concerns are also encouraged to contact REACH, the WCPS Employee Assistance Program (EAP), at 1-800-950-3434. REACH will provide free 24/7 assistance for issues such as:
  • Depression, anxiety and other emotional issues
  • Balancing work/life needs
  • Job Stress and other job-related problems
  • Relationship, parenting and family problems
  • Other life stressors
REACH services are free and available to an employee’s spouse, family members, or other legal dependents who reside in the employee’s household. 

Bus Routes
WCPS recognizes that some school buses will have to be detoured and rerouted until roadways are repaired, inspected by NCDOT, and reopened in impacted areas. The WCPS Transportation Department is working diligently to update bus routes, and is committed to having revised bus route information available for families in impacted areas the afternoon before schools reopen for students. Families are reminded that those areas of our county worst hit by high water issues should expect longer, later and more inconvenient bus routes that could potentially last weeks to months until all of the roadways and bridges are repaired.

To help alleviate further delays and potential double runs due to driver absences in the coming days, WCPS plans to use instructional assistants, coaches, and other staff members who hold a school bus driver endorsement to assist with bus routes.  

Families who have been displaced by flooding or other storm related issues in need of bus route modifications are encouraged to call the Student Needs Hotline, fill out the online Student Needs Survey, or contact their child’s school. This includes parents/guardians of students who were displaced and who are currently staying in hotels, with extended family, and/or somewhere other than their primary residence. 

Make-Up Schedule
The district has been closed to students and staff since Wednesday, September 12. No Make-Up schedule will be created until it is determined if the General Assembly will grant calendar flexibility to school districts impacted by Florence.  

“Based on my conversations with members of the General Assembly, I am optimistic that a special session will be held at some point to amend the school calendar legislation to assist school districts that were forced to close for a significant amount of time,” adds Dr. Dunsmore. “If the General Assembly can forgive lost school days, similar to what it did after Hurricane Matthew, school districts will not have to make up days on Saturday or at the end of the school year.” 

How to Help!
WCPS recognizes that there are community members, businesses, and organizations who would like to help students and staff impacted by Florence. A special WCPS Relief Fund has been setup to receive monetary and gift card donations which will allow schools to directly purchase needed items for families and staff. Anyone interested in making a donation can drop off money or gift cards at the WCPS Administrative Offices on Royall Ave in Goldsboro or mail their donation, payable to WCPS Relief Fund, to:

Wayne County Public Schools
Attention: WCPS Relief Fund
P.O. Drawer 1797
Goldsboro, N.C. 27533-1797  

At this time, WCPS is not collecting physical donations. Schools supplies are being collected by Communities Supporting Schools of Wayne County (CSSWC). CSSWC staff will work directly with school social workers to ensure school supplies reach those students most in need. For more information, donors can call 919-735-1432 or email sbennett@waynecss.org. 

Items such as clothes, shoes, personal hygiene products, etc. can be dropped off at the Maxwell Center or the Train Depot in Mount Olive to support families and residents impacted by flooding and/or storm damage. Donors are encouraged to monitor @waynecountygov on Twitter and Facebook for continued updates about collection sites and hours of operation.
 
 
September 18 - Update
 
Due to swollen rivers, closed roads, and high losses of food in school cafeterias, Wayne County Public Schools will remain CLOSED to students and staff for the remainder of the week.

“Our maintenance crews have been in our schools assessing damage since before the storm left our area,” states Dr. Michael Dunsmore, WCPS superintendent. “Fortunately, our school buildings and grounds held up well during Florence. However, our cafeterias sustained high losses of food. In addition to having frozen food lost due to power outages, the district also provided food from operating freezers to the Wayne County Emergency Operations Center during the storm to support shelter operations.”

Once WCPS kitchens and freezers can be cleaned and food deliveries can resume, schools will be better equipped for students to return. The district administration continues to remain in close communication with the Wayne County Emergency Operations Center to monitor road closures, river levels, and forecasts for when it will be safe to have students, staff, and school buses on the road.

“It is our plan to give families forty-eight hours notice in announcing when students are expected to return to class,” adds Dr. Dunsmore. “Additionally, we plan to hold at least one teacher workday prior to the return of students to give teachers time to get their classrooms in order.”

The district has been closed to students and staff since Wednesday, September 12.

“Because we have been out of school so many days, I have been in communication with Representative Dixon and members of the General Assembly. It is my hope that the general assembly can provide calendar flexibility in forgiving these days, similar to what occurred after Hurricane Matthew two years ago,” adds Dr. Dunsmore.
 
September 17 - Update
 
After assessing conditions around the county, Wayne County Public Schools will remain CLOSED for students and staff on Wednesday, September 19. Please note:
  • The district’s maintenance staff is continuing to get buildings and grounds in order.
  • Unless directed or given permission by their supervisor, no WCPS teachers of staff should be on campus while the buildings are CLOSED.
  • Decisions about Thursday and the remainder of the week will be determined on a day by day basis.
  • As a reminder, for planning purposes the district administration is committed to giving families 48 hours notice in announcing when students are expected to return.
  • Families and staff are encouraged to continue monitoring the district website and @WayneCounty PS on Twitter or Facebook for further announcements.
 
September 16 - Update
 
Due to road closures, power issues, and rising river levels, all schools will be closed to students and staff tomorrow, Monday, September 17 and Tuesday, September 18. Please note:
  • The district administration will continue to closely monitor conditions around the county.
  • Decisions about Wednesday and the remainder of the week will be determined on a day by day basis.
  • For planning purposes, the district will give families at least 48 hours notice in announcing when students are expected to return.
  • Families and staff are encouraged to continue monitoring the district website and @WayneCounty PS on Twitter or Facebook for further announcements. 
  • All staff are also encouraged to check their WCPS email for an important email from the district administration.   
September 11 - Update
 
In preparation for Hurricane Florence, the Wayne County Public Schools (WCPS) administration is continuing to monitor weather impacts expected for Wayne County. It is also working closely with emergency management officials in local storm preparations and response.

Below are the latest updates and closures announcements:
  • To give families and staff ample time to prepare for the intense weather being predicted by Hurricane Florence, all after school programs and school sponsored events have been CANCELED Tuesday and WCPS will be CLOSED Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday for students and staff. 
  • All campuses – except those which may be designated by the Wayne County Emergency Operations Center as an Emergency Shelter – will remain CLOSED throughout the weekend to the public.
  • All middle and high school athletic competitions have been canceled for the remainder of the week.
  • Following the storm, designated WCPS staff will evaluate the conditions of each campus to determine if further decisions need to be made next week. 
District administrators encourage families, staff and community members to take the necessary steps to protect themselves during and after the storm.

“Meteorologists and emergency officials anticipate a very serious weather event for our area,” states Dr. Michael Dunsmore, WCPS superintendent. “By closing our schools the remainder of the week, we can give our families and staff precious time to make storm preparations and to evacuate if needed. The closures will also free up buildings in the event shelter personnel need to begin setting up shelters to support evacuees displaced by this storm.” 

Leading up to Hurricane Florence’s arrival, families and staff are encouraged to monitor their local media and to go online to readync.org to get the latest storm updates and valuable hurricane planning resources. Once the storm is over, the most current WCPS announcements will be communicated to the local media and via the district’s automated notification system, www.waynecountyschools.org, and @WayneCountyPS on Facebook or Twitter.
 
September 10 - Updates
In preparation for Hurricane Florence, the Wayne County Public Schools (WCPS) administration has been closely monitoring the weather and staying in close communication with emergency management officials. The following decisions were made Monday afternoon:
  • All after school programs and school sponsored events have been canceled Tuesday and Wednesday to give families and staff time to prepare for the storm - This means, any scheduled athletic practices and competitions, 4-H programs, Driver’s Ed programs, PTA meetings, staff meetings, and facility rentals are canceled.
  • All schools will be CLOSED for students and staff Thursday and Friday, and all campuses will remain CLOSED throughout the weekend to the public.
  • Beginning Tuesday, all middle and high school athletic competitions scheduled this week have been canceled and will be rescheduled to a later date.
  • All school field trips have been canceled for Wednesday.
  • WCPS will continue closely monitoring this storm, its timing, and its potential impacts to determine if any further decisions need to be made about school operations on Wednesday.
  • Following the storm, designated WCPS staff will evaluate the conditions of each campus to determine if further decisions need to be made next week. 
WCPS would encourage families and staff to closely monitor their local media and the district website, or follow us at @WayneCountyPS on Facebook or Twitter, for the most current district announcements. 

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