By Mark Jurkowitz | Outer Banks Voice on September 17, 2020
Two months after announcing that schools would first open the 2020-2021 year under a plan that includes in-person and remote learning, Governor Roy Cooper said today they can opt for full-time classroom learning for students in kindergarten through fifth grade, starting on Oct. 5.
In making the announcement at a Sept. 17 briefing, Cooper also stated that districts have the flexibility to make their own choices about whether to bring younger students back to class full time.
The Dare County schools, like many other in the state, have begun the new school year with remote-only learning. But the Dare County Board of Education will hold a special meeting on Oct. 1 to determine how to move forward with school operations after the first nine weeks of the school year.
“Of all the disruptions COVID-19 has created, education is the most challenging to address,” Cooper said at the briefing. “The number one opening priority during has pandemic has been our schools.”
In explaining why the option was given for in-person learning for younger students, but not for those in grades 6-12, North Carolina Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen described both “risks” and “benefits”— indicating that in-person learning was more important
for younger students and that they were also less likely to acquire and transmit COVID-19 than older students.
For those districts that bring K-5 students back into the classroom, there will be a face covering requirement, regular symptom screening and a degree of social distancing that will allow for more students in the classroom than is currently allowed under the existing hybrid model.
Re-opening classrooms to younger students “may not be the right plan for all districts” stated Cohen at the briefing, adding that regardless of what system a district adopts, “every family should have the option for full-time remote learning.”
In her presentation, Cohen reviewed mostly positive recent trends in a number of key metrics for tracking the spread of COVID-19 in the state — such as people presenting with COVID-like symptoms, the number of reported cases, the percent of positive test results and the number of hospitalizations.
The school announcement by Cooper occurred on a day when a relatively high number of new cases, 1,552, were reported in North Carolina. There are currently 894 people hospitalized with the virus in the state.
Note: Every morning, the NC Department of Health and Human Services posts updates o number of reported cases of coronavirus. That number reflects positive results from all tests, including the NC State Laboratory of Public Health and all hospital and commercial labs. There may be other reports, from the media and elsewhere, that will include different numbers during a given day, but this is an effective way of tracking numbers from the same source on a day-to-day basis.
SOURCE: NC DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES