GOLDSBORO – Wayne County Public Schools spokesperson Ken Derksen said Thursday, Sept. 20 that ss 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
- 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: A 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 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,” said 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, Sept. 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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.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.