NC brings young learners back into the classroom (Governor Approves Plan A for Education)

LENOIR, NC (September 17, 2020) — Gov. Roy Cooper announced today that children in kindergarten through fifth grade may return to in-person learning under the state’s least restrictive reopening Plan A as early as October 5. School districts are not mandated to implement Plan A but now they have the option.

Plan A will allow more students in the classroom by relaxing social distancing standards; however, all current health and safety preventative measures will still be in place, such as face coverings, health screenings, frequent hand washing, and sanitizing school buildings, etc.

“There are multiple health and safety factors to be considered before transitioning to Plan A,” said Superintendent Dr. Don Phipps. “We will confer with the local health officials prior to implementing any changes.”

State health officials are recommending that school districts continue with density reduction on school buses, even though Plan A does not specifically require it. However, bus riders will continue wearing face coverings while boarding, riding, and unloading. “These types of recommendations require school districts to evaluate logistical implications before making a commitment to change operations,” Phipps said.

The NC Department of Health and Human Services presented three plans this summer for reopening of schools – Plan A: Minimal Social Distancing; Plan B: Moderate Social Distancing; and Plan C: Remote Learning only. Per Gov. Cooper’s directive in July, schools could only reopen on a hybrid system (Plan B) of in-person and full remote learning or could choose a more restrictive option of online-only classes (Plan C) but could not be more lenient and return to full-time, in-person classes (Plan A). 

The Caldwell County Schools reopened schools along with 51 percent of school districts across the state utilizing Plan B, a blended educational plan of both in-person and full remote instruction. State officials recognize that school districts need ample time to implement Plan A, which cannot be instituted until Oct. 5. Students in grades 6-12 must continue either on Plan B or Plan C.

“Before we move to Plan A, we will carefully evaluate the risks and benefits to our students,” Phipps said. “We are eager to get all of our students back in school, but we want to do it responsibly and safely.”