The New Hanover County School Board decided Wednesday that pre-K through 5th-grade students will remain in remote learning until January 25th. On that date, they will transition back to Plan B, a hybrid model.
On Tuesday, parents of the school system held a press conference to voice issues about fully reopening schools on January 19th:
“‘When we look at things like Town Creek Elementary where they sent students back on Plan A, we had children sick, we had teachers sick’...'How do you social distance on a school bus?’...’I’m also concerned about substitute teachers, do we have enough?’”
At Wednesday’s special meeting, officials didn’t give many concrete responses to these specific questions and concerns. That’s potentially one of the reasons why the board reversed course on a full reopening slated for next Tuesday.
Board member Nelson Beaulieu was the lone dissenter on this vote:
“The damage that we are doing by not having these kids in school is crippling.”
Earlier in the meeting, Superintendent Charles Foust and his staff presented to the public how they prepared to fully reopen next week. They said that based on available data, there continues to be low community spread in schools -- and that 83% of parents were ready to send their kids back to school full-time.
But this information failed to push school board members to follow through on the plans. Board member Stephanie Kraybill:
“Dr. Foust, before we start voting, I know you don’t want it, and I know you’re not crazy about this, but if we’re going to go forward with it, is there anything you’d like to add?”
Dr. Foust: “No surprises. That’s all I ask that the board not surprise me.”
As for the decision of when to fully reopen elementary schools, that’s a date yet to be determined.
- For the data on low community spread, visit the agenda here, and click on 'Information' and 'Covid-19 Updates.'