CARY, N.C. (WNCN) — The Wake County Public Schools Board voted 7-2 on Thursday to move all students to remote learning through at least mid-February.
School Board members Roxie Cash and Karen Carter fought against that decision. They proposed a plan to keep Pre-K through third grade in the classroom, but the other board members voted against it.
“I think everyone is desirous of seeing students return to school,” said School Board Chair Keith Sutton. “I think the question and disagreement is the how and the when.”
The board originally approved a plan that would have allowed grades K through 5 back in the classroom on a daily basis, and grades 6 through 12 on a three-week rotation of remote and in-person learning.
But after concerns from some principals and teachers about COVID cases and staffing shortages, Superintendent Cathy Moore recommended the entire district go remote.
“We know this recommendation will disappoint many families. On another level, I want to share that this recommendation is heartbreaking for some of our own staff, especially those with students in high school,” Moore said during the meeting. “So while our desire to support a continuation for in-person learning and implement the previously adopted plan is in our thoughts, our current review of data, in particular, our current levels of community spread and feedback from staff tell us the path at this time is to remain in remote for all students.”
About a dozen parents and students showed up to protest outside district headquarters where the school board was meeting.
“It’s time for the Board and Superintendent Moore to really think about student achievement. It’s spiraling downward. We need to focus on that. We need to think about the benefits versus the risks,” said Wake County parent Amy Marshall.
Marshall’s son Ryan hasn’t been inside a classroom for almost a year. He told CBS 17 on average, 10 of his classmates are absent every day.
He explained, “I think a lot of kids are demotivated and everyone would rather be in school and it would just be better for everyone.”
“Everybody from Fauci on down has said schools need to stay open and yet, they’re all closing the schools,” said John Marshall, who peacefully protested with his family on Thursday. “And it’s devastating to a lot of parents that have to work, it’s devastating to kids. The impact that this is having on children is terrible.”
Sutton said he expects the school board to meet on February 9 to make a decision about the remainder of the spring semester.