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Schools Ready for 'Return to Learn'
Schools Ready for 'Return to Learn'
Posted on 02/12/2021
A collage showing several schools preparing for students to return on Monday, Feb. 15, 2021.By Ben Rickert and Tim Reaves
BCS Communications Department

As the weekend approaches, BCS classrooms are ready for a safe Feb. 15 return for students under Plan B.

Custodians and maintenance workers spent the week cleaning and disinfecting surfaces, adjusting signage, and topping off needed supplies. Teachers excitedly prepared lessons, reorganized books and learning materials, and arranged classrooms for social distancing.


“I’m looking forward to seeing those smiling faces getting out of the cars on Monday morning,” said North Buncombe Middle School media specialist Shelly Cloninger.

Cloninger and assistant Karen Jones prepared and cleaned media center laptops on Thursday and prepared for students to start checking out books electronically for pick up. They also continued planning for this year’s “book tasting” event, which will be hosted through apps on student devices this month.

Social studies teacher Chris Brown is looking forward to more face-to-face opportunities to care for her students, while working to give both in-person and remote students an excellent experience.

“I’m looking forward to having the kids back in the classroom, be able to interact with them, and take care of them academically and emotionally,” she said. “We set up a separate computer so kids at home can see the kids that are here. We do the same activities with the same amount of energy, covering the same material. It’s just a little bit different.”


In Weaverville, the Blackhawks of North Buncombe High School are ready for a safe return to in-person learning under Plan B on Feb. 15.

“I’m so looking forward to opening our school back up to students, just to see them, to see their faces,” said English teacher Suzanne Schule, as she sanitized desks in her classroom.

Theatre and dance teacher Ricky Webb explained that the change of venue will be helpful for fostering creativity, as his students often allow themselves to be more expressive on a real stage. In their first week back together, Webb’s in-person and remote students will collaborate on scripting an integrated restaurant-themed story, research and act out scenes from The Odyssey, and learn a tap dancing routine based on the musical “A Chorus Line.”

Down the hall in the band room, director Nathan Brown was busy preparing instrument masks for his returning performers.

“The students have engaged beautifully this semester, but they can’t wait to walk in and be back together in this home that they’ve missed for so long,” Schule added.


Charles D. Owen High School science teacher Richard James is “stoked” to have students in his class again.

“I’m happy to have face-to-face interactions again, but I’m also making sure to have equity with the students who are remote,” he said. “I think we’ll all be happier to get back into a routine.”

Down the hall, media specialist Samantha Gallman and media coordinator Kelli Self sanitized student devices at their desks and rearranged the media center to better fit with a hybrid learning model.

“I’ve met and built relationships with my students online, but now I get to see many of them face to face,” Ms. Gallman said. “We’re setting up our recording devices for the remote-only students, and working on fun activities to get everyone excited.”


At Clyde A. Erwin Middle School, seventh-grade science teacher Jordan Braschler has been prepping hands-on lab activities for her microbiology unit.

“I cannot wait to interact and learn again with my students in person,” she said.

Fellow science teacher Tanya Payne has been reworking her lab lessons to accommodate physical distancing requirements. Each student will use individual lab trays and equipment. It’s been tough, but Ms. Payne is determined to bring the excitement of experiments into her classroom.

“I am so excited to have the students return,” she said. “They are my driving force, my inspiration, and I consider them a true blessing.”


At T.C. Roberson High, teachers are preparing socially distanced classrooms and lessons to accommodate the Plan B return to in-person learning beginning Feb. 15.

“I’m definitely looking forward to the kids being back. That’s what we’ve missed more than anything,” said Mr. Josh Martin, civics/American history teacher and soccer coach at Roberson. “It’s going to be nice to feel a little bit closer to normal in the safest way possible.”

nglish and journalism teacher Mr. Taylor Sluder says he’s been busy with planning, retooling lessons, and cleaning his classroom.

“It’s just exciting for them to get back to that sense of normal,” he said. “This week, I’ve been adjusting activities we would normally do, trying to reimagine them with social distancing and safety in mind.”

Math teacher Ms. Amanda Walker explained that teachers will be meeting some of their students in person for the first time on Monday, since some joined their classes or enrolled at the semester change.

“I’m looking forward to face-to-face, mask-to-mask, interaction with them,” she said. “We want them to know that we want them here at Roberson and are excited to welcome them into our Ram family.”


Ahead of the Feb. 15 Plan B return to in-person learning, Valley Springs Middle School teachers and staff were hard at work making preparations. From the media center to the auditorium and in every classroom, educators prepared for students to safely learn in reduced numbers.

English teacher Whitney Cooper is most excited about the face-to-face interactions that will be possible next week.

“I’m excited to see their faces in my classroom,” she said, “and for kids to have the opportunity to talk to one another, to pick up more on facial expressions and how they are feeling. I think they are really excited to see each other.”

Cooper explained that students and staff will wear face coverings, wash hands between classes, sit at least six feet apart (or more), use their own materials during lessons, and even go outside as weather permits.


W.D. Williams Elementary School music teacher Jennifer Anderson is excited to get back into the rhythm of school. She’s prepping her classroom for proper spacing and getting into a “first day of school mindset.”

“Some of the remote-only students chose in-person this semester, so this is like a first day,” she said. “It’s been an interesting year, but I’m ready and happy to be able to get hands on again.”

    Buncombe County Schools is in the process of reviewing its website to ensure compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Buncombe County Schools does not discriminate on the basis of sex in its education programs or activities and is required by Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 and federal regulations to not discriminate in such a manner. This requirement extends to admission and employment. Inquiries about the application of Title IX and its implementing federal regulations may be referred to the Title IX Coordinator and/or the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights in the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education. The Title IX Coordinator's contact information is: Shanon Martin,, 828-255-5918, 175 Bingham Road, Asheville, NC 28806.

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