Back-to-school options in North Carolina

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Photo by Warren LeMay

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Yesterday, NC Governor Roy Cooper held off on a much-anticipated announcement of the plan for public schools in the fall, noting in a press conference that health officials + educators were still trying to craft the best + safest plan for students and staff to return. He emphasized that the state’s top goal is to get kids back into the classroom if possible. 

Three plans have been presented by the state. Here’s what to know about each of them –

  • Plan A allows all students + staff to return fully to classrooms with additional safety precautions, like mask and physical distancing requirements, in place.
  • Plan B limits schools’ capacity to 50%, with an alternating in-person/remote schedule and six feet of distance between in-person students and staff.
  • Plan C is a virtual-only option.
  • These guidelines will be a baseline. That means that individual school districts (there are 115 total in the state) can be more restrictive, but none can be less restrictive.

Factors going into the decision include districts’ geographic size, internet access, students’ access to regular meals + parents’ preferences. There’s no word yet on when the official decision will come, but Gov. Cooper noted that schools with a fall semester that starts this month will begin with remote education.

The American Academy of Pediatrics just released their recommendation that students physically return to classrooms this fall rather than continuing learning remotely.

The AAP noted that schools are crucial for children’s “development and well-being” and that they play “a critical role in addressing racial and social inequity,” pointing to the challenges that students of color, students with learning disabilities, and students in low-income families have faced during the period of remote learning.

They also noted the lower risk children + adolescents face from COVID-19, but acknowledged that their understanding of the pandemic is shifting rapidly, and that “no single action or set of actions will completely eliminate the risk of transmission.” 

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