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Gearing up for a first-of-its kind school year

When the coronavirus pandemic flared locally in March, Durham Public Schools shut down elementary, middle and high schools. Teaching, for the most part, simply ceased.

On Monday, the district’s nearly 33,000 students get back to classrooms, this time online for at least nine weeks.

Riverside High School librarian and media specialist Kate Nester scanned serial numbers of Wi-Fi hotspots before students without stable internet access picked them up. Photo by Henry Haggart

9th Street reporter Michaela Towfighi describes the steps needed to start this massive undertaking in a county where home computer and internet access are not yet universal.

Making digital learning work for nine weeks — and maybe longer — will require persistent community involvement, say Durham Public Schools Foundation leaders and other public school allies.

Unpacked charging carts are stored in the Riverside High School library too. Classrooms will need them when students resume in-school learning. Photo by Henry Haggart

Photo at top: Riverside High School students waited six feet apart Wednesday to pick up Google Chromebooks to start online classes on Monday. Photo by Henry Haggart