Public schools now able to implement Plan A for elementary schools
After several weeks of stable COVID-19 trends and continued low virus spread in school settings, Governor Roy Cooper has announced that beginning on October 5, North Carolina public school districts and charter schools can choose to implement Plan A for elementary schools (grades K-5). Plan A continues to include important safety measures like face coverings for all students, teachers and staff, social distancing, and symptom screening, but does not require schools to reduce the number of children in the classroom.
“We are able to open this option because most North Carolinians have doubled down on our safety and prevention measures and stabilized our numbers,” said Governor Roy Cooper. “North Carolinians are doing the hard work to improve our numbers and trends. Many people are wearing masks, keeping social distance and being careful to protect others as well as themselves. We have shown that listening to the science works. And I’m proud of our resolve.”
As the Governor announced in July, every district will continue to have flexibility to select Plan A, B or C based on their unique needs. In addition, districts should still provide an option for families to select all remote learning for their students.
Dr. Mandy Cohen, Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services shared an update on North Carolina’s data trends. Dr. Cohen explained that North Carolina has seen a sustained leveling or decrease of key metrics.
“Our trends show that we are on the right track. It’s up to all of us to protect our progress. Our individual actions like those 3 Ws will help keep our school doors open.,” said Secretary Cohen.
Dr. Cohen also explained that as schools have opened, the current science shows that younger children are less likely to become infected, have symptoms, experience severe disease or spread the virus.
“It’s great news today that we are a step closer to providing the option of in-person learning to families who want their children to return to school,” said Superintendent of Public Instruction Mark Johnson. “While the Governor, the State Board of Education, and I have our differences, I join with them today to encourage local school board members to take advantage of this change and open all schools safely. I thank the many parents and teachers across North Carolina who have been vocal advocates on this important issue.”
“For the past 6 months, superintendents, principals, teachers and local BOE have worked diligently to care for the safety of our students and staff while educating our children. While we are anxious to return all students, we know that teachers, principals, and students need a gradual transition over the next 3 months. I ask our parents to remain patient, knowing that we are moving as quickly as is safely possible. And I ask our teachers to continue to assist our students by supporting this deliberate, thoughtful transition,” said Eric Davis, Chairman of the State Board of Education.
Davis Park gets new equipment
This brand new playground equipment was being installed last week at Davis Park in Belmont. Larry Ellington Services out of Mt. Pleasant, N.C. was handling the job. Photos by Alan Hodge
Community Relief Organization News...
September is Hunger Action Month. It is a time to call attention to our neighbors in need and take action on the hunger crisis. Before COVID-19, America was home to families facing hunger, and the pandemic has increased those numbers. Those who seek help from our food bank, the largest in the area, may be your family members, your longtime friends, your next door neighbors...some you never knew needed help.
Our mission is to address this crisis through nutritional and/or financial assistance, treating each family we encounter with dignity and respect. Most of our food and financial contributions come from individuals; people like you. If you are in a position to give, please know that we appreciate your partnership, as does each family who receives your help. You can donate by clicking the “Donate Today” button below or see the “Ways to Give” section for other donation methods.
COVID-19 Operational Updates
We continue to maintain our COVID-19 operational adjustments. Once you arrive, please stay with your vehicle until a volunteer can sign you in. If you are bringing a donation, we will be able to collect it outside. We are committed to serving our community while also keeping our volunteers and staff safe. Clients need to sign in by 11:45 a.m.
CRO Current Needs- canned fruit, boxed cereal, canned soups (except “cream of” soups). A PB&J sandwich is a classic delight for kids of all ages! Protein makes peanut butter a great lunch or snack item, and the jelly adds a sweet bit o’ fun. We get WAY more donations of PB than J, and often run low or run out, so the pair makes an awesome donation. Also, we take Sun Butter since we do serve families with peanut or tree nut allergies.
Schedule Changes- With Labor Day behind us, we have updated the dates that we’ll be closed in observance of various holidays: November 11th (Veterans Day), November 26th (Thanksgiving Day), December 24th - 31st (Christmas Break).
Visit Our Website- A lot of frequently asked questions are answered at cro-mtholly.org. If you can’t find something you need, let us know and we’ll get you that information.
Good News from Gaston County Schools
The following “good news” was presented to the Gaston County Board of Education for the months of July and August 2020.
The Gaston County Schools Communications Department won a 2020 Golden Achievement Award from the National School Public Relations Association. The award recognizes the “Big 50 Employee Talent Show” as an exemplary public relations program.
Resa Hoyle, the beginning teacher support coordinator for Gaston County Schools, has been appointed by Governor Roy Cooper to serve as a member of the Gaston College Board of Trustees.
W.A. Bess Elementary received a $1,000 donation from DCOTA, a commercial construction and landscaping company. The company also provided weeding and mulching services at the school.
Gaston Early College High School students Landry McBee, Autumn Kirby, Najira Davis, and Aaliyah Cherry have been accepted into the “Pirate Promise” admissions program at East Carolina University.
Gaston Early College High School student Najira Davis was appointed to serve as president of the Student Government Association at Gaston College. Joseph Wittmer was appointed to serve as a student government senator.
McAdenville Elementary conducted a beautification day project to spruce up the campus before the start of school. Volunteers from the McAdenville Woman’s Club planted flowers and completed other gardening tasks.
The Stuart W. Cramer High School Stagestruck Players presented principal Audrey Devine with a flag featuring the school seal on a purple background. Theater teacher Chuck Stowe and students Alex Manley and Emily Harris were involved in making the special presentation possible.
Stuart W. Cramer High School senior Seth Sturgis earned full-time employment with Rochling Engineering Plastics.
The Page Primary PTO and the Pinewood Elementary PTO conducted beautification projects that involved a number of volunteers cleaning up the school grounds prior to the start of the new academic year.
Robinson Elementary received a donation of $2,500 from Zoe Wealth Management, Inc. in Charlotte to help pay for the school’s new online reading program, Learning A-Z.
Sadler Elementary received 105 book bags filled with school supplies from Family Works. In addition, the school received a new American flag from Robert Kurylak.
Sherwood Elementary received a donation of headphones and earbuds valued at $4,000 from First Presbyterian Church. The school staff enjoyed a catered lunch and goodie bags provided by Parkwood Baptist Church. The church also provided 50 book bags full of school supplies for students. In addition, the school received a collection of school supplies from Myers Memorial Methodist Church, and volunteers from AT&T donated backpacks full of supplies for 50 students.
W.C. Friday Middle School is proud to offer construction technology this academic year as part of its Career and Technical Education curriculum.
Carson Carr of Forestview High School received the John Hunsucker Memorial Scholarship, which is awarded to a senior who exemplifies John Hunsucker’s motto of “Be a gentleman or lady first, a scholar second, and an athlete last.”
Bessemer City High School received a $1,500 donation from Dole Fresh Vegetables in Bessemer City.
The Hunter Huss High School JROTC chapter was recognized for raising the most money for the Salvation Army in the “Battle for the Bell” competition.
Dontavius Nash of Hunter Huss High School was named one of the area’s top football players in the WSOC-TV “Big 22 Players to Watch” recognition program.
Each week, Pleasant Ridge Elementary receives more than 20 food bags to give to families. The food bags with nonperishable items are prepared by members of Epworth United Methodist Church.
Sherwood Elementary partnered with the middle school youth group from Parkwood Baptist Church to conduct a beautification project at the school.
Sadler Elementary custodian Gary Brooks took the initiative to address several maintenance and beautification projects while students and staff were away from school. The projects included waxing floors, cleaning out closets, taking care of yard work, and sprucing up the entrance to the school.
Great news from Gaston Schools Nutrition Department. All students will receive free lunch until December 31, 2020. Students will be given a choice of a hot option or choose the munch a lunch option which includes yogurt, graham crackers, cheese stick, raisins, and a juice box.
If you have questions, office hours are Monday-Friday from 8-3:30.
County reopens facilities
As the state of North Carolina moves into Phase 2.5 of COVID 19 protocols, Gaston County announces it has reopened the outdoor fitness pavilion at Dallas Park and all playgrounds at County parks.
The County, thanks to the hard work of its Parks and Recreation staff, kept its parks open and maintained throughout COVID-19. Today’s move allows for playground equipment to be used by the public once again.
In addition, the Gaston County Museum reopened on Sept. 15, and will be open to the public on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. During the past several months, museum staff has been working to making the museum experience safe for visitors during COVID-19, along with preparing a brand-new exhibit.
Visitors to the museum will be required to wear masks, and the museum has placed signage that will help keep guests safely distanced, along with the use of timed reservations to limit the total number of guests inside the museum at any one time.
More information on reservations and new guidelines for enjoying the museum can be found at GastonCountyMuseum.org.
Also reopening is Gaston County’s Senior Center. Though the GCSC has been conducted social-distanced classes outside and virtually during the past several weeks, it re-opened the indoor wellness room and restarted classes by appointment only on Tuesday, September 8.
The facility will meet or exceed all requirements set out by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. The GCSC will take one-hour appointments for the wellness room and will close for a 15-minute cleaning between each appointment.
The classes currently meeting outside will be moved back indoors, but capped at a maximum of 20 people per class to allow for continued social distancing. An hour for deep cleaning will be the minimum standard between each class that meets indoors.
Those who wish to utilize the GCSC will have their temperatures checked before being allowed to enter the facility. Anyone with temperatures higher than 100.4 degrees will not be permitted to enter. Each person entering the building will also have to answer three questions as part of a health screening questionnaire – the same process used by County staff on a daily basis.
Masks will be mandatory for entry and exit of the building and for any time a person is not engaged in exercise.
To make an appointment to use the wellness room, the computer room, library or to sign up for a class, call (704) 922-2170.
NC Governor Cooper and Cohen meet with Dr. Birx
NC Governor Cooper and DHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen met with Dr. Deborah Birx in North Carolina last week. The Governor and Dr. Birx also participated together in the call with the White House Coronavirus Task Force, and the Governor spoke about the need for our elected leaders and candidates to lead by example on the campaign trail this fall by holding events with face coverings and social distancing.
In their meeting with Dr. Birx, the Governor and Secretary Cohen noted their appreciation for the opportunity to share how North Carolina has been responding to COVID-19 and how the state’s approach to slowly ease measures has helped distinguish it from others in the South who have faced greater setbacks. They discussed North Carolina’s multi-prong approach, which includes slowing the spread through prevention, knowing who has been exposed to COVID-19 through testing and tracing, and supporting people staying home when needed through isolation and quarantine supports.
Secretary Cohen and Governor Cooper also addressed the state’s efforts to protect people’s health in congregate care settings, such as nursing homes, through widespread testing and other measures. Dr. Birx offered her expertise, sharing lessons learned from other states, and offering to surge testing resources on college campuses.
The Governor requested additional federal support, including:
Need national leaders to model effective prevention strategies, including the wearing of face coverings and social distancing – and to take these measures to protect North Carolinians when visiting the State. More testing over a longer period of time with a focus on community-led testing, proactive testing of K-12 staff in schools that are providing in-person instruction, and proactive surveillance at Institutes for Higher Education.
Increased allocations for reagents for health system laboratories.
Details on the federal government’s inventory and distribution plans for Abbot Binax Now testing. Additional funding for personal protective equipment and a halt on implementing new FEMA restrictions.
Timing on when detailed vaccine planning guidance would be issued as well as required reporting elements and a provider enrollment agreement.
Additional funds to continue supporting child care programs.
Extension of the Pandemic EBT program beyond September 30th and flexibility for students in hybrid (part remote and part in-person) learning environments.
Gaston County wins AARP Community Challenge grant
Three North Carolina Communities received special grants from AARP to help make those places better for people of all. The AARP Community Challenge grant program is part of the nationwide AARP Livable Communities initiative that helps communities make immediate improvements and jump-start long-term progress in support of residents of all ages.
The 2020 Community Challenge grant recipients have been working to make either permanent physical improvements in the community, temporary demonstrations that lead to long-term change and are building new, or are planning innovative programming and services.
The AARP grant will improve Gastonia by creating a public pedestrian space that includes playful and educational sidewalk graphics as well as new flowerbeds and benches. The new space will increase both pedestrian safety and the area’s aesthetic experience. It will also encourages older residents, and the entire community, to become more physically active.
The public pedestrian space, one of several “pedestrian generators” will be on Garrison Boulevard flanked by the Gaston County Main Library and the Schiele Museum of Natural History. It will also include a sidewalk, transit shelter graphics, an amenities map.
Gaston College recognizes staffers for 25 years of service
Gaston College employees were recognized for 25 years of service at the College’s annual Employee Appreciation and Recognition Celebration in February. Each of them received a certificate and a $150 gift card. Those recognized were Donna English, Gail Hoyle, and Ed Stroup.
Donna English is the Chair of the Industrial Systems Technology program. Prior to joining Gaston College, she worked 13 years in industry and taught part-time as an adjunct instructor at Isothermal Community College for approximately six years. She then attended Western Carolina University to continue her education, earning her Bachelor of Science in Education and a Master’s in Technology. She also received her Ed.S. in Higher Education from Appalachian State University. In her program of study at Western Carolina, she met some instructors from Gaston College who told her about an opening for an instructor. She applied and was hired.
Her first position at Gaston College was as an instructor for Mechanical Drafting and Design Technology. After about six years she moved to the position of instructor for Industrial Maintenance.
At the College, English has served on the faculty senate, multiple hiring committees, and the curriculum committee. She served as the Industrial Division’s student success coach from 2014 to 2015 and attends yearly career fairs at local middle schools to promote the trade and industrial programs at Gaston College. Those activities contributed to her being named the 2006 Instructor of the Year for the Engineering and Industrial division, one of her proudest accomplishments.
Gail Hoyle was a stay-at-home mother and wanted to start back to work part-time. At the suggestion of her husband Reggie, who worked at Gaston College as a part-time GED instructor, she joined Gaston College as a part-time secretary for the GED and Adult High School coordinators on the College’s Lincoln campus. She became a full-time employee in 1994. In 1996, she joined the Continuing Education department under the supervision of Dr. John Merritt, then the Director of Continuing Education.
From 2002 to 2004, Hoyle represented Gaston College as a member of the planning committee for the biannual North Carolina Community Colleges Adult Educators Association and helped plan workshops for spring and fall conferences. She joined the Economic Workforce Development division on the Dallas campus in 2011.
As a Grounds Technician, Ed Stroup performs all the necessary tasks to maintain the grounds at the College’s main campus and satellite locations. This includes maintenance of lawns, plants, trees, parking lots, roadways, and other areas of the campuses. He has been in the Grounds Department since he joined Gaston College in 1994.
Well known for his consistency and commitment, Stroup is one of the many staffers who “wakes up the campus” every morning, regardless of weather or other conditions such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
Stroup has seen many changes on the College’s three campuses in 25 years, such as new construction, expansions, and upgrades. Through it all, he has gone about his job not looking for recognition or attention and preferring to be a “get ‘er done” type of person.
His quarter-century of hard work and dedication have made him a valuable, important, significant, and appreciated staff member and his service has great meaning to the staff, faculty, and students at Gaston College.
East Belmont Baptist invitation
Our politicians say this year’s election is a defining moment for our country. They say it’s about the heart and soul of our nation. Many Christians believe the church is facing a defining moment as we learn to adapt to the challenges of Covid-19. Teachers, students, and parents are facing a defining moment when it comes educating our children.
By definition, the term “Defining Moments” means the time when decisions are made that defines who a person is, what a person values, and the direction a person’s life will go. Unlike special moments such as graduations, purchasing a house, receiving a reward, defining moments shape a person’s identity and destiny.
In the Bible we find that Abram had a defining moment when he decided to obey God by leaving his country and people for a land God had promised to give him. Moses had his defining moment at a burning bush. After his initial resistance, he finally went to Egypt and lead the Hebrew people out of bondage. The disciples defining moment came when they accepted Christ’s invitation to follow him.
In every case, those who believed, accepted, and obeyed the voice of God had a defining moment in life. Their life was given new meaning and they were never the same. Somewhere, somehow, someway, everyone will have a defining moment. The most defining moment of all is when God speaks truth to our hearts and reveals His love for us in His Son Jesus. This is a moment of decision. This decision to trust and follow Jesus is the most defining moment of all.
You are invited to East Belmont Baptist Church on Sunday September 27 at 10am. We will hear the stories of three individuals who experienced a defining moment in their life and how God lead them to a life of meaning as they trusted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.
Living in Christ
Pastor Jeff Taylor
East Belmont Baptist Church
Shining Hope Farms golf tournament
Shining Hope Farms equine therapy facility will be having its first annual golf tournament at Verdict Ridge Golf Course and Country Club, 7332 Kidville Rd., Denver on October 5, 2020.
Registration will be at 9:30am, shotgun start at 11am, tournament ends at 4pm.
There will be dinner, awards, and silent auction at 5pm onsite at Guilties Bistro. Lunch, dinner, and silent auction included.
For more information or to register visit shininghopefarms.org.
City of Mt. Holly/Red Cross blood drive
The City of Mt. Holly will team up with the Red Cross for a blood drive on Wednesday, September 16, 2020 at 10 AM – 2:30 PM at the Municipal Center, 400 E Central Ave, Mt Holly.
Understandably, there is a shortage of blood due to complications arising from COVID-19. This drive is important which is why the City will continue with hosting it amid the current health scare.
Red Cross is also providing all donors with the antibody test for COVID-19, so there is expected to be a higher volume of foot traffic in comparison to past blood drives.
Both the Council Chambers and the Training Room will be used to accommodate for 6 ft. social distancing between beds. Donors will be seated in the Grand Hall where there is enough room for social distancing as well. Red Cross will be taking the temperatures of all donors prior to entering the building.
Please keep in mind that although citizens may enter the building for the blood drive, you will not be able to handle City business as the building is still closed to the public in that respect.
Child care hotline
Families and caregivers in need of child care for children up to age 12 can call the child care hotline at 1-888-600-1685 to be connected directly to care options in their community that meet their families’ needs.
“We know that families may need extra help finding school-age care options right now, as many schools have started the school year with remote learning only, and others are operating with children onsite on alternate days or weeks to meet social distancing requirements,” said Susan Gale Perry, Chief Deputy Secretary for NCDHHS. “The Child Care Hotline can help families fill that child care gap by providing referrals to available school-age programs.”
The hotline is open Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. It is a collaboration of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) and the North Carolina Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R) network. Care will be offered by licensed child care providers who agree to meet NCDHHS health and safety guidelines.
For more information about child care during COVID-19, visit covid19.ncdhhs.gov/information/child-care/child-care-information-families.
Duke Energy plans continued assistance for NC customers in need
Duke Energy will begin its standard billing practices in North Carolina in the coming weeks, keeping service disconnections for nonpayment suspended until October 2020, a full month beyond its required moratorium. North Carolina customers who are experiencing financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic will have until October to pay overdue balances or make payment arrangements.
Beginning in September, those who need additional time to pay any outstanding balance will be able to establish flexible payment plans with no down payment required. Additionally, Duke Energy will continue to waive late fees until further notice.
The company also urges eligible customers to take advantage of available financial support through the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services’ Crisis Intervention Program and Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funds available through statewide community action agencies.
What to expect: Gaston County School parents and employees
As a new academic year begins, we realize that you may have questions about what will happen if there is a confirmed case of COVID-19 at your child’s school. This letter provides you with information about the process that a school will follow.
Protocol when there is a confirmed case at school
The following information outlines the steps that a school will follow when there is a confirmed case of COVID-19 at a school:
School officials will work closely with the Gaston County Department of Health and Human Services and follow guidance and procedures outlined by state and local public health officials. Our local health department will handle the contact tracing process in a confidential manner and collaborate with the school on how to address the situation.
School administrators are committed to being factual and timely in their efforts to provide pertinent information to you. The Parentlink communication system will be used to notify parents and employees by telephone and e-mail. This is why it is important for you to have a current telephone number and e-mail address on file with the school.
In the event of an outbreak, it may be necessary for a school to shift to full remote learning for a certain period of time. Be mindful that a change to full remote learning may have to be done quickly with less than a day’s notice.
Because of our obligation to protect the privacy of students and employees as required by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) federal laws, the school cannot release specific information about a confirmed case. The names of the people affected and other personally identifiable information will be provided to public health officials in accordance with reporting requirements; however, this information will not be released to the public or the media.
Students, employees, parents, and others should refrain from sharing inaccurate information. Please do not spread rumors as this may create panic, anxiety, and mistrust for your child’s school family.
Protocol when a student/employee exhibits symptoms
The following information outlines the steps that a school will follow when a student or employee exhibits COVID-19 symptoms while at school:
If the person is an employee, he or she will be sent home immediately. If the person is a student, a parent will be contacted and asked to pick up the student immediately.
Parents/employees will be advised to contact their healthcare professional or the local health department for further guidance on general questions about COVID-19 and information about testing.
A face covering will be given to the person if he or she does not have one. If the person is a student, he or she will be taken to a designated room or office for isolation from others until being picked up by a parent/guardian.
The student will be supervised by a staff member who maintains at least six feet of space and wears personal protective equipment (PPE).
Areas where the student or employee may have been will be closed off and cleaned/disinfected properly.
The person designated as the school’s COVID-19 coordinator will notify Gaston County Schools Health Services of the incident. Health Services will contact the local health department to determine next steps and a plan of action.
Good hygiene practices to remember
We would like for you to review the following hygiene practices and do your part to help limit the spread of the coronavirus. It is a good idea to review these practices with your child and others in your family.
Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or use hand sanitizer; Keep your social distance (at least six feet of space) from others; Wear a mask/face covering when in public; Use a tissue to cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing; Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth; Clean touch points, surfaces, and other high-contact areas regularly; and Stay at home if you are not feeling well. If you are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, please contact your healthcare professional.
Thank you for your continued support of your child’s school. The safety of everyone associated with our school community is extremely important, and our hope is that all of us can work together to support each other as we face this global pandemic.
W. Jeffery Booker, Ed.D.
Gaston County Schools
Steve Eaton, MPH
Public Health Director
Gaston County Dept of Health and Human Servicesincerely,
Gastonia’s Summer Concert Series canceled
Because of the coronavirus pandemic and continued statewide limits on the size of social gatherings, all concerts in Gastonia’s Summer Concert Series have been canceled. Some concerts had been rescheduled for the fall. But the extension of Phase 2 in North Carolina into September prompted organizers to cancel the series for 2020. The free concerts are held at the Rotary Centennial Pavilion in Downtown Gastonia. The concert series is presented by the Rotary Club of Gastonia East, in partnership with the City of Gastonia.