Wake County School Board votes on plan to reopen 2020-21 school year

Wake County News

CARY, N.C. (WNCN) — Wake County Public Schools are moving forward with a plan for the fall semester.

The school board voted unanimously Thursday afternoon to approve the “Plan B,” which is a hybrid of in-person learning and online learning.

They heard presentations and discussed for about four hours before voting.

“My daughter wasn’t happy about some of the options, but she said it’s okay if it keeps her safe and healthy, and then my son just looked at me and said just do it right,” said school board member Chris Heagarty.

Under Plan B, students will be on three-week rotations for in-person learning for one week and online-instruction for two weeks. So a third of students would be in school facilities at a time.

“We’re going to see what the future will bring, but we’re going to do it together,” said school board member Lindsay Mahaffey.

Social distancing measures will be in place in the schools. Students will be screened coming into the buildings and the buses. Buses will only run with one student per seat.

Staff, middle schoolers and high schoolers would be required to wear masks.

The state gave schools personal protective equipment, but staff says more will be needed.
School members brought up concerns about resources, childcare, communicating the changes to families, teacher workload, and more.

“We absolutely want to be able to provide as much of a window of opportunity and planning time for our teachers because the burden that they’re being asked to carry is already significant,” said one of the board members.

Some said they’re disappointed Governor Cooper didn’t provide more guidance in his briefing Wednesday for schools to reopen. With classes expected to start in August, they want to move forward with a plan.

Presenters said Plan B offers flexibility if circumstances change in either direction.

There’s also a focus on making sure there’s enough social-emotional support for students and staff to handle the transition.

“I think it went very well. I’m pleased we had the unanimous support of the board to move forward with Plan B. A lot of questions, but really good questions or ones that board members are asking, want to know, because they’re getting those same questions from teachers, from parents, from students,” said chairman Keith Sutton.

There are more details to iron out and changes that can be made, but they said it’s important to start getting a plan sooner rather than later, so it’s a smoother process.

“Extremely important to give our staff the direction to move and begin to operationalize this plan and put things in place, and also extremely important so that not just students or teachers and principals can plan but parents need to be able to plan, communities need to be able to plan,” said Sutton.

There’s also a WCPSS Virtual Academy in place for students not ready to return to the classroom. They’re asked to commit to the virtual academy for at least a semester but are encouraged to do it for a year.

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