During a press conference today, Gov. Roy Cooper announced lifting restrictions and allowing districts and charters to return PreK – 5 students to school buildings operating under Plan A beginning Oct. 5. In June, schools were directed to develop a plan to return students to buildings following the abrupt closure to schools in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
All public schools developed three re-opening plans for the 2020 – 21 school year to ensure continuity of educational services once the state’s COVID-19 metrics changed significantly guided by a comprehensive document, Lighting Our Way Forward: North Carolina's Guidebook for Reopening Public Schools. The three required reopening plans reflected three different levels of virus-related risk to mitigate spread:
Plan A: Minimal Social Distancing
Plan B: Moderate Social Distancing
Plan C: Remote Learning Only
State Board of Education Chairman Eric C. Davis said in a statement that he thanks citizens across the state for wearing their masks, staying six feet apart, washing their hands and for trusting the advice of the state's health care professionals.
“While we have made progress, so much more remains to be done requiring each of us to remain vigilant,” Davis said. He said he recognizes all superintendents, principals, teachers and local board heroes over the last six months for their diligent work caring for the safety of students and staff while educating children under some of the most difficult conditions.
“During this time, these heroes faced difficult decisions, relentless criticism, and labored tirelessly all in pursuit of continuing children’s education and returning our students to school buildings safely,” Davis said. “They have earned the public’s trust and confidence proving that we can educate our children during this pandemic by working in partnership with local health officials, ensuring that reliable data and the most current scientific knowledge of this virus informs their decisions.”
Operating under Plan A for PreK – 5 students will be allowable following a gradual transition over the next three months, Davis said. Lifting restrictions to operate under Plan A requires deliberate moves for the safe return to schools for all students and staffs. Many logistical, operational and personnel issues must be resolved to safely implement Plan A.
“Parents, school leaders and educators, we appreciate your patience and assistance to our students by supporting this deliberate, thoughtful transition,” he said. “North Carolinians do our best work under the greatest challenge. We must remain vigilant, resilient, patient, and determined to uphold health and safety for the sake of our children and their future.”