TMSA & QCSS Finish Fall Semester Remotely

TMSA Public Charter Schools Finish Fall Semester Remotely
Posted on 10/08/2020
TMSA & QCSS Second QuarterThe school boards decided to extend remote-only instruction through the end of the fall semester with an option of in-school help for exceptional children and struggling students. 

Cary, NC – TMSA Public Charter Schools announced that Triad Math and Science Academy, Triangle Math and Science Academy, and Queen City STEM School will continue with the synchronous remote-only instruction for the second quarter. In a joint special board meeting on Tuesday night, the TMSA and QCSS boards also approved the option for exceptional children and struggling students to start going back to school for additional help after October 26th, as proposed by Superintendent Ben Karaduman.

The approved proposal includes:

TMSA and QCSS will continue with the synchronous remote-only instruction until the end of the semester on December 18th, 2020.

Exceptional children will be offered an option to attend their virtual classes on campus from 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM after October 26th. They will be supported and supervised by the staff. There might be additional virtual or in-person after-school tutoring available upon request.

Struggling students will be offered virtual or in-person after-school tutoring from 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM after October 26th. Depending on the staff availability, schools might allow these students to attend their virtual classes on campus from 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM. It is the schools' discretion to determine who will be qualified as a struggling student.

Schools might allow certain students, who are suffering from undue hardship, to attend their virtual classes on campus from 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM, depending on the staff availability. There will be no in-person instruction for these students. Priority will be given to the students whose parents are qualified as essential workers to fight against the pandemic.

"We are determined to meet the needs of every kid to the best of our ability," said Superintendent Karaduman. "91% of our parents ranked TMSA's remote instruction with the highest points, but there are some parents who have some concerns about their kids' academic success in the virtual setting," he added, referring to the TMSA recent survey results. "We have now three more weeks to get ready for the kids, and I ask our parents to bear with us as we finalize the details."

TMSA Public Charter Schools underwent a two-week marathon of data gathering and processing to reflect all the stakeholders' feedback and suggestions to TMSA and QCSS boards after Governor Cooper allowed the elementary schools to accept K-5 students back to classrooms mid-September.

More than 75% of the TMSA parents said they would continue with the remote-only instruction no matter what the boards would decide. Likewise, 28% of the TMSA staff said they would not return to traditional classroom teaching even if the boards decided otherwise.

The controversy was also apparent during the public comment section of the board meeting. "I plead with the boards not to make me choose between my dear students and my cancer survivor mother," said a TMSA teacher breaking into tears. "Our students do not know how to tie their shoes, blow their nose, and they struggle with keeping their shoes on. So how are they going to be able to keep their masks on?" asked a QCSS kindergarten teacher speaking on behalf of the nine other team members who are in favor of continuing with the remote learning. "Kindergarten is the most hands-on grade level. Our students need additional assistance even in the bathroom," she added. Some parents disagree, however. "Other counties surrounding us are opening their schools," observed a parent of a kindergartener, asking, "what parameters do you need to see before opening up the schools?" "This is not the last virus," wrote another in the chatbox, asking, "is the school never going to open?" A mother of two elementary schoolers has this controversy every day by being torn between her struggling 3rd-grader and excelling 4th-grader with the remote learning. "The key here is what other plans we have for supporting the students in need," she commented.

The ten attending TMSA and QCSS board members unanimously approved the superintendent's proposal. "As an educator, I am in favor of in-person instruction," said TMSA Board Treasurer Dr. Mustafa Atay, a father of three, adding "under these severe conditions of the pandemic, I will be in support of the online education for the upcoming quarter." TMSA Board Member Dr. Terrence W. Thomas welcomed the proposal's on-campus help for some students. "If we can meet those parents halfway and help them get over this hump, I think we will be doing our jobs well," said the 72-year-old NCAT professor. "I am in favor of remote-only through this unknown time," said QCSS Board Treasurer Carlton Cammon to keep the community safe. "Plan A (fully in-person) and Plan B (hybrid) are gambling with the unknown," stated another TMSA Board Member, Marwa Cayli, a mother of three. "We are doing a very good job in remote instruction so far compared to the other districts, and now we will make some adjustments to accommodate the needs of struggling students further," she added.

The TMSA schools were among the first in North Carolina to go online after the COVID-19 outbreak in March. They also reopened with remote-only instruction on August 11th for the first quarter. TMSA's robust remote curriculum uses synchronous e-learning systems that involve real-time chat and videoconferencing. This remote learning approach requires students' active participation. According to the survey results from mid-July and late September, more than 90% of parents are highly content with the quality of TMSA's remote instruction.

The TMSA system includes Cary's Triangle Math and Science Academy, Greensboro's Triad Math and Science Academy, and Charlotte's Queen City STEM School, all of which serve more than 3,000 students in North Carolina. The system focuses on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) for elementary, middle, and high schools in a safe, nurturing, and culturally-responsive learning environment. TMSA Public Charter Schools strive to equip students with higher-order thinking skills and a moral responsibility to challenge today's society for the better.

Superintendent Karaduman’s Second Quarter Re-Opening Proposal

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