At Tuesday night’s New Hanover County School Board meeting, the announcement came that school staff will be vaccinated in Phase 1B. There were also concerns from some community members about the impending elementary reopening.
There were twenty ‘Calls to the Audience’, from community members who shared public comments with the board. And most asked officials to reconsider their decision to fully reopen pre-K through elementary schools on January 19th. Some also mentioned recent fatalities from Covid-19 among educators and asked for documentation on the county’s risk assessment for reopening.
Kaleigh Pare is a sixth-grade social studies teacher at the International School at Gregory and a member of the New Hanover County Association of Educators.
She says they want to create a Staff Advisory Council to help plan the transition:
“We want a safe reopening and we want to help make that possible. We know that getting to a Plan A that’s safe is not going to be easy. It’s not going to be easy to find 6 feet of social distancing for students who attend school in-person.”
After the community speakers, Carla Turner, a New Hanover County public health official, did say that Covid-19 numbers are increasing. But she added school staff over the age of 50 will start vaccinations in the second group of Phase 1B, which could begin by the end of January. Educational staff under 50 will follow that group.
Board Chair Stefanie Adams says that a more in-depth discussion on virus case numbers and the reopening plans will take place at their special meeting on January 13th.