State Superintendent Mark Johnson Announces Schools Reopening Task Force

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NCDPI News Release

For immediate release

April 30, 2020


State Superintendent Mark Johnson Announces Schools Reopening Task Force 

                            It’s time to move from reactive to proactive 


COVID-19 has forced statewide school closures creating unprecedented challenges for students, teachers, and families. Thus far, understandably, everyone has been reacting to the crisis. Today, Superintendent Mark Johnson announced the Schools Reopening Task Force (SRTF). This task force seeks to put North Carolina public education back on the proactive path to address the challenges of post-COVID-19 education. 


“We have all been forced to react to the ongoing crisis, and we know there are frustrations as we face these challenges forced upon us,” said Superintendent Johnson. “People keep tossing around the phrase ‘the new normal. We could not be more proud or appreciative of how educators and families have stepped up to these challenges, but we want parents, students, and educators to know that we recognize the current situation is not sustainable. DPI is convening this task force in an effort to efficiently address the challenges that lay ahead when we reopen schools and to put us back on a proactive path that, once again, will allow North Carolina students their best opportunities to pursue their own pathways to success.” 


The SRTF includes bipartisan membership ranging from public school students to the Governor’s office and most stakeholders in between. The SRTF seeks to get as many students and teachers back into school buildings as safely possible this fall and to review and recommend improved options for remote learning. 


Specifically, SRTF will focus on: 

  • Improving Opportunities – We hear you and recognize that remote learning options must be more user-friendly and practical. Is this best accomplished with more broadband or are there more pragmatic options? 
  • Mind the Gap — There is going to be a learning gap due to missed school. How do we best meet students at their ability level when they return?  
  • Social Distancing — The need for greater social distancing is likely unavoidable until there is a vaccine. The SRTF will help develop guidelines in partnership with NC DHHS with the goals of getting as many teachers and students back in schools as safely as possible and determining best paths forward for extracurricular activities. 


SRTF Membership: 

  • NC Department of Public Instruction leadership 
  • Gov. Roy Cooper’s office 
  • Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, Chair of the State Board’s Digital Learning Committee 
  • Susan Perry, NC DHHS 
  • Sen. Deanna Ballard
  • Sen. Don Davis
  • Rep. Jason Saine
  • Rep. Jeffrey Elmore
  • Superintendent Stephen Basnight (Hyde)
  • Superintendent Jeana Conley (Cherokee)
  • Superintendent Marvin Connelly (Cumberland)
  • Superintendent Andrew Houlihan (Union) 
  • Superintendent Anthony Jackson (Vance) 
  • Superintendent Lynn Moody (Rowan) 
  • Dana Jones, WSFCS Board of Education (Forsyth) 
  • Susan Gates, Special Advisor on Education, SAS 
  • Malbert Smith, MetaMetrics 
  • Freebird McKinney, 2018 Teacher of the Year; Director of Government and Community RelationsState Board of Education 
  • Jill Camnitz, State Board of Education member 
  • Courtney Crowder, External Affairs 
  • Jonathan Felts, External Affairs 

Other advisors will include district CTOs and CAOs, thought-partners from education-focused organizations, and teachers, principals, parents, and students. 


Seeking greater efficiency, the SRTF will be sending work product to individual members for review and input before convening meetings. Put another way, there will not be a lot of Zoom, Webex, or take-your-pick of yet-another-virtual meetings. Feedback from the public will also be solicited.