WNC schools repeal mask mandates

School systems in all four counties of The Smoky Mountain News’ coverage area are no longer requiring masks in schools. The slew of decisions came on the heels of updated COVID-19 guidance and new direction from North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper.

This must be the place: Rock and roll is here to stay, come inside where it’s okay

It was that familiar smell that conjured a slew of memories.

Masks now optional in Haywood schools

Masks are optional for students and staff of Haywood County Schools after the school board voted last night to remove the pandemic restriction that had been in place since August 2021 following public comment heavily in favor of doing so.

HCS adopts shortened quarantine policy

Haywood County Schools will follow new COVID protocol, referred to as “5+5 COVID Guidance,” after a presentation from the Haywood County Health Department during a special called meeting Monday night. 

Jackson, Macon schools address pre-K need

Families in Jackson and Macon counties are set to see a bump in pre-K capacity as both counties work to expand their programs in the coming months. 

What lesson does censorship teach our children?

When I learned of the removal of the book “Dear Martin” from an English II class at Tuscola High School, my first thoughts were of my daughter’s English teachers who created opportunities for the students to read texts that made them think. They engaged in discussions about important topics and real-world issues and were asked to critically analyze different perspectives and experiences. My often-reluctant reader was motivated and inspired. High-performing schools allow for intellectual discussion and debate, and I am grateful her Tuscola teachers provided these opportunities.

Author responds to Tuscola pulling ‘Dear Martin’

After Haywood County Schools administration pulled “Dear Martin” from a 10th grade English II class , The Smoky Mountain News caught up with author Nic Stone to get her thoughts on the issue.

Swain County Schools faces recruitment, retention obstacles

In the midst of the third school year affected by COVID-19, school systems are keenly aware of the stress the pandemic causes for staff. Teachers and support staff alike have left their positions in record numbers as the occupation changes at breakneck pace, and Swain County Schools is doing what it can to identify obstacles to recruiting and retaining teachers. 

Relief funds aim to keep up with difficulties in schools

Just after the Coronavirus Pandemic broke out in the United States in March of 2020, the CARES Act was signed into law. Among other things, this bill established the Education Stabilization Fund, part of which is designated for K-12 public schools through the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund, also known as ESSER funds. 

Macon County Schools offers staff retention bonuses

Last week the Macon County School Board approved the use of ESSER funds to give recurring $1,500 bonuses to all full-time employees and $750 to all part-time employees for the coming three years. The first payment will be given out on the December payroll. 

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