Durham Public Schools reveals details of possible reopening

Durham County News

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – Durham Public Schools is releasing what their reopening plan could look like.

“We will not reopen if it is unsafe,” said Chip Sudderth, chief communications officer for DPS.

They’ve been closed for in-person learning for eight months due to COVID-19.

District leaders are now sharing a plan to reopen in January.

The plan has pre-K through fifth-grade students back in the classrooms two days a week, rotating in two groups.

“We cannot remain in remote forever, at some point we have to start transitioning back on campus,” said Superintendent Pascal Mubenga.

There would still be an option for those who want to remain completely virtual.

Families will be able to sign up for the Ignite Online Academy.

“What we know is this virus is going to be around for a while,” said Julius Monk, chief operating officer for DPS.

The district is presenting the plan to school board members on Thursday.

CBS 17 asked why the plan doesn’t include students returning to full-time learning, as state leaders and Wake County said schools aren’t leading to a spike in cases or clusters.

The superintendent said a higher percentage of students in Durham are planning to return to in-person learning than in Wake County, so they won’t have the capacity to social distance.

Even though the state doesn’t require fewer students in elementary classrooms, Durham will.

“Because we know social distancing is one of those things that will help curb the transmission of the virus,” said Monk.

The district spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on air filters and PPE and said they’re looking for more funding to ensure even more safety.

“We’re going to continue to reiterate those three Ws: wait, wash and wear, on all of our campuses,” said Monk.

There will be more details about the plan revealed at Thursday’s meeting, including a possibility for older students to return to campus once a week.

If the plan is approved, that’ll give faculty members two months to prepare.

They also plan to have a dashboard showing COVID-19 cases and clusters when they do reopen.

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