Dare Ed Board votes to remain in remote learning

By on January 12, 2021

By a 5-2 vote at a special Jan. 12 meeting, the Dare County Board of Education voted to stay with remote learning for the district’s students through the third quarter of the school year. Prior to the vote, the board considered a number of options that included some variations of a return to school before voting on the ultimately successful motion by Board Member David Twiddy.

Board Members Susan Bothwell and Joe Tauber voted against that motion. Aside from Twiddy, Board Chair Mary Ellon Ballance, Vice-Chair Margaret Lawler and Board Members Frank Hester and Carl Woody voted in favor.

The members also heard a presentation from Dare County Health and Human Services Director Sheila Davies, who reported that the percentage of positive COVID-19 tests out of all tests administered in Dare County this past week was 18.8 percent, a high number.

Board members cited the continuity of instruction, the current high rate of COVID-19 positive cases and the pending vaccine availability for teachers as reasons to stay remote for the next quarter. Davies, who cautioned that the vaccine rollout determined at the federal and state level is a fluid situation, said her hope is that teachers would be able to begin getting vaccinated in Dare County sometime in February.

Davies also said that the county health department cannot guarantee that school nurses, who are employed by the department and not the schools, can be in the school buildings every day because they are currently needed for the county’s pandemic response, fulfilling tasks from contact tracing to working at vaccination clinics.

Schools Superintendent John Farrelly said that based on a survey of district staff, 87 percent of the respondents indicated that they would get the vaccine when it becomes available.

After beginning the school year in virtual learning, Dare County Schools opened to face-to-face learning in October for all students, with elementary school students going full-time and those in grades 6-12 going on a hybrid schedule. However, two weeks later the board voted to close schools again because of teacher shortages caused by COVID-19 positive cases and quarantining requirements.

That experience seemed to weigh on Ballance’s thinking at the Jan. 12 meeting.

“I think one of the things we as a board is charged with is how do we ensure a consistent delivery of quality instruction,” she said prior to the vote. “I have some concerns that we jump the gun again. Nobody has a crystal ball to know how this is…at the end of the day, but we do know that right now, under remote they are getting more [consistency] than if we send them back and then [have to close again] in two weeks.”





  • Just me

    So what would Mr Tauber and Mrs Bothwell have chosen. They sure didn’t bring up any other solution or objection during the meeting. They sure had an opportunity. The board made the right decision

    Wednesday, Jan 13 @ 12:26 am
  • Bill

    I have three school aged children, kindergarten, first grade, and second grade, it is an injustice to future generations to continue this and all those involved will be given full credit for their involvement.

    Wednesday, Jan 13 @ 9:35 am
  • Ann Sumners

    I applaud Dare County for looking at the data and listening to Dr Davies to continue virtual instruction. I also thank DCS for the nutrition that they are providing for students. It I realize it is difficult for students and parents, but it is also difficult for school personnel. Thank you to those members who care for students as well as school staff and will voted to continue current instruction.

    Wednesday, Jan 13 @ 11:43 am
  • Julie

    Immunize the teachers with those nurses paid for by the Health Department and open the schools in a month. The Federal Government has given their blessing to move along to essential workers just like they are doing in Hyde County today .Learning regression is serious and these children will spend years trying to catch up while others move ahead and get competitive scholarships and opportunities.

    Wednesday, Jan 13 @ 11:46 am
  • Just me

    Injustice?!? It’s safety! I don’t know why anyone would want to teach after all of the comment about teachers and school staff that folks are making!! This is not like the schools are closed for vacations! Folks are sick!!

    Wednesday, Jan 13 @ 12:00 pm
  • Dethrol

    Child abuse, plain and simple. Worst part is, we are allowing it to happen. Withdraw your kids from public school immediately! Once the enrollment drop is recorded, and the federal and state funding for teachers and schools (which is based on enrollment) drops proportionately, see how fast they develop an “innovation” to get kids back in the classroom.

    Wednesday, Jan 13 @ 12:02 pm
  • Kitty Hawk Resident

    “Just Me”- Bet you don’t have kids in the school system right now. If you did you would see how dysfunctional things are. These kids are falling further behind their peers in other school districts that actually figured out a way to have the kids in school. Schools Superintendent John Farrelly should resign and the Board of Ed replaced. They are the ones failing and not these kids

    Wednesday, Jan 13 @ 3:25 pm
  • KDH back seat reviewer

    I guess if you want your kid to get sick from COVID 19 and possibly get others sick because your child was a carrier of COVID 19, then by all means, have them back in the classroom.

    Wednesday, Jan 13 @ 4:22 pm
  • Just me

    Kitty Hawk resident I have grandchildren in school! I also know that all the teachers and staff are working their butts off to make sure these children are getting the best possible. The teachers are getting sick and there are no subs to help. Why anyone would want to teach is beyond me in this day in time. It is a calling and more than a job, it is one that is going to be hard to fill soon because of the abuse they are getting!

    Thursday, Jan 14 @ 12:54 am
  • CorollaCat

    Everybody calm down. But mostly dethrol. It won’t be like this forever. It’ll be fine. Keep the kids safe (and the teachers and staff). And yes, I have 3.

    Thursday, Jan 14 @ 11:29 am
  • Just me

    Kitty Hawk resident I have grandchildren in school!
    It’s hard, but we are doing it ! I would rather have them well and healthy than sick or worse..
    It is about others besides the children, it’s about staff that get sick and no one to cover!! The board made the best decision possible. So you don’t agree, run for the board and see how it is to make these decisions. I don’t agree with some of the things that they decide either, but this was the right call. Other counties that you maybe referring to may not be having the huge numbers of cases we are in Dare either.

    Thursday, Jan 14 @ 12:57 pm
  • Dethrol

    Hmm. CorollaCat, just a name or are you in Currituck County? You know, where the Board just voted to get students back in school? It’s been going on long enough here in Dare County, and that’s precisely the point. There are thousands of children being systemically damaged by this malfeasance, with all due respect to you and your three.

    Thursday, Jan 14 @ 10:55 pm