ASHEBORO — Superintendent Stephen Gainey of the Randolph County School System said it was a satisfying school year in many respects for his district.
“We stayed open,” he said earlier this month. “Just about back to normal as far as what we knew.”
RCSS was among the most aggressive districts in the state in the 2020-21 school year in terms of moving toward in-person instruction. That approach remained in place for 2021-22.
Gainey said there was across-the-board support for RCSS and its determination to run operations in a manner that made students and staff comfortable and engaged.
“We navigated it because everyone pitched in and helped,” Gainey said. “Great effort from everybody.”
Gainey said parents deserve much of the credit for keeping the district’s schools going in the right direction during the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, he added that parents’ willingness to self-report issues involving their children’s health allowed RCSS to stay on top of the situation.
There were three times when schools were put in quarantine or switched to temporary remote learning, but those were isolated, Gainey said.
By the midway point of the past school year, RCSS reinstated most of the programs it once took for granted. Field trips were reintroduced to the schedule, assemblies were held, cafeterias were fully opened, and access to schools for approved visitors was generally granted.
In September, the RCSS board of education extended Gainey’s contract through June 2025.
In early June on consecutive days, Gainey represented the North Carolina High School Athletic Association to hand out championship medals at a couple of state championships. That was particularly rewarding.
He was there for Wheatmore’s girls’ soccer title in Class 2-A in Cary and Randleman’s repeat state crown in Class 2-A baseball in Burlington the next day. Those results gave RCSS three team state championships during the school year after Southwestern Randolph’s Class 2-A volleyball title.
A few days before the spring championships, Gainey had another notable encounter when he met members of the Class of 2034 at Seagrove Elementary School.
In many ways, that brought things full circle because Gainey said he saw the impact of the district’s newest class members enjoying their time in school.
Those moments are special after two challenging school years.
“These 22 months kind of blur together,” he said.