Cumberland County Schools welcomes back students as district navigates pandemic

Cumberland County News

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WNCN) – They are calling it “The Great Comeback.”

Cumberland County students went back to class Monday morning and for some, it is the first time they have been in a physical classroom in more than a year.

“We hope to remain in person all year long. We want to help children become whole. We hope to help them get back on track academically and we are hopeful that everyone will be patient as we navigate this pandemic,” said Superintendent Marvin Connelly.

Cumberland County Schools has about 50,000 students in the district, attending 89 different schools.

Some students will continue to learning virtually through Cumberland Academy.

“We are committed to keeping everyone safe at all our schools,” Connelly said.

Students are glad to be back.

Fifth-grader Terrell Mercer said learning virtually last year was tough.

“Actually kind of staying awake because it was kinda cozy in my bed. We had to switch around places from my sister’s house to my mom’s house. It was really hard doing all that and logging into school was terrible,” Mercer said.

Teachers battled losing the online attention span of students.

Connor Kingdom said at times he and another teacher had to do things like put whip cream on their faces to keep kids attention.

“Making sure we are communicating with families and making sure families are communicating with us. Teaching students to advocate for themselves, just reaching out and saying, ‘hey hon, what do you need.’ or ‘hey bud, what do you need,?'” Kingdom said.

Mercer added he is excited to be back in class, but also nervous.

“I don’t want anybody with COVID and I just wanna make sure that everybody is safe,” he said.

The district has a safety plan in place to make sure children are safe.

On its website, CCS said:

“In keeping with recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the StrongSchoolsNC Public Health Toolkit, Cumberland County Schools will require all students, staff and visitors to wear face masks at the start of the 2021-2022 school year.”

Connelly also added that he is concerned about the entire student, not just educational needs but emotional -as well.

“Children, some of them, have been home by themselves and we know child abuse is on the rise, domestic violence is on the rise during the pandemic. So we know some children have experienced a lot. So it’s important for us as staff to help them recover… not only academically but socially and emotionally as well,” Connelly said.

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