State releases guidelines to reopen public schools in the fall

North Carolina news

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Shortly after Gov. Roy Cooper Monday afternoon emphasized his desire to see schools reopened in the fall, state health officials released guidelines on how schools can safely get back to work.

The StrongSchoolsNC Public Health Toolkit (K-12) lays out a comprehensive set of baseline health practices that public schools should follow to minimize risk of exposure to COVID-19 for students, staff, and families.

The toolkit requires students and others to be screened for illness before entering school, and requires floor markings to maintain social distance.

In addition to specific requirements, the toolkit recommends practices that schools should implement to minimize spread of COVID-19 while allowing in-person teaching to resume.

It also includes sample screening symptom checklists in English and Spanish, a flow chart protocol for handling suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19, and a checklist of infection control supplies schools may need.

“Getting children back to school to learn is a high priority, but they must be able to do so in the safest way possible,” said Cooper. “Every child, family and public school educator in North Carolina deserves strong protection to lower the risk of virus spread.” 

Schools are asked to plan for reopening under three scenarios – Plan A: Minimal Social Distancing, Plan B: Moderate Social Distancing, or Plan C: Remote Learning Only.

NCDHHS, in consultation with the State Board of Education and Department of Public Instruction, will announce by July 1 which of the three plans should be implemented for schools to most safely reopen.

The remaining plans may be needed if the state’s COVID-19 metrics change over time.

“Opening schools will be possible if we keep working together to slow the spread of COVID-19. We will each need to do our part and practice the 3 Ws – Wear a cloth face covering. Wait six feet apart. Wash your hands frequently. These easy actions will have outsized impact in keeping viral spread low to in order to help get our children back to school,” said Cohen.

“We are working together to balance the need for all of our children to get back to school – especially children who rely on public schools for their education, health, safety and nutrition – while at the same time proceeding cautiously and deliberately to protect their health and safety,” said Chairman Davis. “I know meeting these public health requirements will take a tremendous effort by our schools – but I also know we are doing the right thing and that our schools will rise to the challenge.”

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