Our Schools

COVID-19 Response

Monday Update (March 30, 2020)

The school bus meal delivery program has been a wonderful success for our school community, and we expect the program to continue for the duration of the state of emergency declared by Governor Roy Cooper.

Please be advised that the online request form for meal delivery will close at 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, March 31st.  If you have already signed up and are receiving meals, you do not need to submit the form again.

After Tuesday, March 31st, any student who has not completed the form and does not have sufficient food at home can request meal delivery by calling Ashley Taylor at (828) 575-1403.

Monday Update (March 23, 2020)

On Monday, March 23, an executive order from Governor Roy Cooper announced that North Carolina schools will be closed for in-person instruction until at least May 15.  Teachers are currently planning for remote learning to begin Monday, March 30.  More information about remote learning will be provided later this week. 

Dates for field trips, proms, and graduations are on-hold for now, and updates will be provided as soon as possible.

We ask for your patience and understanding as we work through this difficult and rapidly changing situation.  Jackson County Public Schools cares about every student and will always keep their safety and learning as our top priorities.

Tuesday Update (March 17, 2020)

The process to pick up meals on Wednesday, March 18 will be exactly the same as Tuesday. Individuals age 1-18 are welcome to have a meal. If you need meal delivery, please fill out the form at www.jcpsnc.org/food.

IMPORTANT: Our resources for home delivery are limited. If you are able to get to a distribution site, please go to that site and pick up your meal(s) on Wednesday. Only those who do not have transportation should request home delivery for Wednesday. The distribution sites are Blue Ridge School, Cullowhee Valley School, Scotts Creek School, Smokey Mountain Elementary School, and Smoky Mountain High School. Adults are allowed to pick up meals for children without the children present.

ALSO IMPORTANT: The process will change to meal delivery by school buses on Thursday, March 19. Meals will be delivered to school bus stops on Thursday. Keep an eye out for a separate post this evening explaining the process for Thursday.

The NC State Board of Education will meet Wednesday, March 18 to provide expectations and clarification on remote learning. Jackson County Public Schools will follow the guidance and timelines that are established for school districts.

At this time, JCPS teachers will be reaching out to students and families to ensure they have what they need to meet basic needs as well as to discuss and collaborate on ideas for learning at home.

Remote learning at home is intended to be supplemental and does not impact grades. K-8 students are encouraged to work on math activities daily, read for at least 30 minutes, and explore research activities. High school students are encouraged to complete any missing work and continue to read daily.

JCPS teachers and administrators are working on plans for continued instruction if an extended school closure occurs and remote learning becomes the expectation.

Beginning Thursday, March 19, school buses will run their regular morning routes on a four-hour delay. The buses will pause at each of their usual morning stops and blow the horn. Individuals who would like to pick up meals for children age 1-18 should go to the bus while it is stopped. Staff members on each bus will provide the meals.

Buses should be at each morning stop within 15 minutes of the expected arrival time. To determine the arrival time, simply add four hours to the time the bus usually arrives on a regular school day.

Students who do not ride a school bus in the morning or at all must complete an online form to request meal delivery. The online form is available at www.jcpsnc.org/food. No sign-up is necessary for students who regularly ride a school bus in the morning.

If you have questions, please call Ashley Taylor at (828) 575-1403.


Monday Update (March 16, 2020)

Jackson County Public Schools will provide free breakfast and lunch for anyone age 1-18 on Tuesday and Wednesday, March 17 and 18. Meals will be distributed from 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Blue Ridge School, Cullowhee Valley School, Scotts Creek School, Smokey Mountain Elementary School, and Smoky Mountain High School.

Students who would like a meal should go to the nearest distribution site. Each person under age 18 will be given a boxed lunch for the current day and breakfast for the following day.

Home delivery will only be available Tuesday and Wednesday for students who cannot get to a distribution site. Individuals who do not have transportation should complete the online form at www.jcpsnc.org/food no later than 10:00 a.m. on the day they want food delivery to start.

Delivery for all students is expected to begin on Thursday, March 19. More details on delivery will be released later.

Community volunteers are needed to deliver meals and possibly prepare meals. Anyone interested can sign up at www.jcpsnc.org/food.

Tomorrow's update (Tuesday) will include information about delivery of instruction to the home.

Important Closing Announcement (March 14, 2020)

By agreement with the governor's office, state superintendent, local superintendent, school board, and local health director, Jackson County Public Schools is CLOSED March 16-30. This is a precautionary measure, and there are no reported cases of COVID-19 in Jackson County. More information about instruction at home and food service will be released later. We appreciate your understanding and support while we have followed the guidance and direction of state and local authorities.

Friday Afternoon Update (March 13, 2020)

As of Friday afternoon (3/13/2020), Jackson County Public Schools expects to resume a regular schedule on Monday, March 16.

NOTICE: The Jackson County Health Director and Superintendent Dr. Elliott are requesting that any student or staff member who traveled outside the continental U.S. or on a cruise ship over spring break self-isolate at home for 10 school days (two weeks). This proactive measure will allow time for symptoms to develop. At this time, self-isolation is a request, but the Jackson County Health Director has the authority to make it a requirement if the situation evolves further.

Students and staff with a fever, cough, sore throat, or shortness of breath should stay home. Any student or staff member who traveled outside of western North Carolina over spring break should check with the school nurse or designated health care professional before going to class.

Effective immediately, community use of school buildings is suspended with the exception of the Jackson County Recreation Department. The Recreation Department will make decisions and announce any changes to practice or game schedules.

Answers to frequently asked questions:

  • What should I do if I believe my child or I have the virus?
    • Call your primary care provider or health department and inform them of your situation before going to see them. Then, follow their instructions.
  • Can we contact the school and bring a student’s work home?
    • Yes. However, if you or your child have compromised health, please contact the school by phone or email, and the teacher may be able to provide work online or by U.S. mail.
  • What are the options for online learning?
    • Middle and high school teachers are making an effort to put learning activities online when possible. K-5 teachers will send work by email or U.S. mail when requested. Work delivered by U.S. mail will be sent weekly.
  • How can students who stay home keep up in classes that require hands-on projects?
    • Teachers will provide alternative assignments when possible, or students will have an opportunity to make up missed projects when they return to school.

No updates are planned for the weekend unless changes are directed by state or local authorities. Daily updates will resume by Monday afternoon.

Friday Morning Update (March 13, 2020)

Superintendent Dr. Elliott will attend a regional superintendents’ meeting today (Friday) for an update on recommendations related to the COVID-19 pandemic followed by a daily conference call with the Jackson County Health Director. 

School closings during a situation such as this involve several state and local agencies, and we are working closely with all required groups.  The following is from a statement by the NC Department of Health and Human Services (3/12/2020):

“We do not recommend pre-emptive school closure at this time but do recommend that schools and childcare centers cancel or reduce large events and gatherings and field trips, limit inter-school interactions, and consider distance or e-learning in some settings.”

Currently, only Durham and Orange County schools are closed next week.

Answers to frequently asked questions:

  • How many absences can a student have?
    • Absences related to a parent’s choice to keep children home due to health concerns related to COVID-19 will be excused as long as the state of emergency declared by the governor is in place.  A parent note is required and may be sent via email, U.S. postal mail, or brought to the school when the student returns.
  • Why not extend spring break another week?
    • All NC public schools are mandated by the state legislature to complete 1,025 instructional hours in a school year.  School districts receive guidance and direction from multiple agencies including the governor’s office, DHHS, and the county health director.  See the statement above from the NC DHHS.
  • Shouldn’t students be screened before they get on the bus?
    • School districts rely on parents to monitor children’s health.  Students should not be sent to school if they have a fever, cough, sore throat, or shortness of breath.
  • Are nurses being put at risk during screenings?
    • School nurses assess student health every day and are well qualified to do their job while taking measures to protect themselves.
  • What about schools that do not have a full-time nurse?
    • We have partnered with WCU and a local health care provider to meet increased needs during this difficult time.  Each school will have a designated health care professional onsite.
  • Will field trips be cancelled?
    • All field trips are suspended or postponed until April 1st and will be re-evaluated on April 1st.

An afternoon update will be posted today at 4:00 PM with additional updates and information about online coursework and opportunities to continue learning at home.

This is a fast-moving situation, and all information is subject to change.  Thank you for your patience as we try to provide accurate information as quickly as possible.

Initial Statement from the Superintendent (March 6, 2020)

I am writing to inform you about steps Jackson County Public Schools (JCPS) is taking to prepare for and prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).    We have no higher priority than the health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff. 

We are working closely with the Jackson County Department of Public Health (JCDPH) and other county agencies to develop a coordinated and comprehensive plan in the event that cases of COVID-19 are reported in our community.  JCPS will monitor the situation and implement all public health recommendations.

Our custodians and maintenance staff will continue to proactively maintain the cleanliness of our buildings, and we will encourage good personal hygiene among students, faculty, and staff.  School nurses will also be monitoring student health on our campuses.  Families are reminded that children who show symptoms of fever or illness should not come to school while sick. 

At this time, there is no need to cancel school or other events.  However, should the need arise, I will not hesitate to close one or more of our campuses to prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

Our focus is currently on prevention.  There are a few simple steps you can take to protect yourself from respiratory illnesses such as COVID-19:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick, coughing, or running a fever.
  • Cover your cough and sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently-touched objects and surfaces.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

While we are being proactive in our approach, we do not intend to cause alarm.  We take the responsibility of educating and caring for students very seriously.  If cases of COVID-19 are identified in the community, we will work closely with medical experts and public health agencies to determine the next steps.

Additional sources of reliable information:

Dr. Kimberly Elliott

Jackson County Department of Public Health
Community Update, March 2, 2020