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Elementary students back in class full time? NHCS will decide next week

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At Tuesday night's New Hanover County School Board meeting, there was plenty of community support for returning pre-K through 5th-graders to school full time. Next week, the board will decide whether to do that.

“I am encouraging you all to, as soon as possible, cast a vote to give parents and educators an option between Plan A and Plan C.”

That was one of the many voices arguing for a full return to school. 

Community members, both in-person and by phone, raised the issues of students’ deteriorating mental health and academic achievement. They also said there’s proof of low transmission rates of the virus in schools, including a recently released Duke/UNC study

Julie Varnam is the assistant superintendent for student support services. She argued that students and staff have remained relatively safe in Plan B from October until the end of January.

“We had 742 quarantines, those are quarantines due to exposure at school, those 742 quarantines resulted in 9 positives and that would be that secondary transmission.”

Critics of reopening have voiced concerns about keeping students sufficiently separated. But under new guidance, North Carolina’s Department of Health and Human Services says that even though the Centers for Disease Control advise 6 feet of social distancing, 3 feet or greater can still reduce a student’s risk of spreading the virus. 

 

NCDHHS, "School Children and Covid-19"