Dare Ed Board votes for March 1 school return

By on February 9, 2021

Different plans for PreK-5 and grades 6-12

The Dare County Board of Education on Feb. 9 voted unanimously to return students to face-to-face instruction beginning on March 1. PreK-5 students will attend in-person learning Monday through Thursday while grades 6-12 students will attend face-to-face instruction in two cohorts – the first group attending Mondays and Tuesdays and the second on Wednesdays and Thursdays.

Students in grades 6-12 will receive remote learning on the days that the other cohort is in the school building. Fridays will serve as an “asynchronous” day for all students and staff. On these days, students will not receive either face-to-face or remote instruction, but that day instead would be used for teacher planning.

A virtual learning option will continue to be available for all students who opt to stay remote. With the return to school, masks, social distancing and daily temperature checks and health screenings will be required for all students and staff. Students in grades 6-12 will eat lunch socially distanced in the cafeteria or in the classroom. At the elementary level, students will remain in their home base classrooms. Those students will also have lunch either socially distanced in the cafeteria or in the classroom.

Masks will not be required to be worn at recess unless six feet of social distancing cannot be maintained. Recess times will be staggered throughout the day to ensure classroom pods are not intermixed.

Under the re-opening plan recommended by Dare County Schools Superintendent John Farrelly, all Dare County schools will also operate under a low-contact protocol to limit the number of staff members needing to be quarantined as a result of being a close contact to a COVID-19 positive case.

After opening schools to in-person learning last October, the district quickly faced a teacher shortage due to positive COVID-19 cases and quarantining that sidelined more than 80 staffers. With not enough teachers to staff classrooms, the Board of Education voted on Nov. 13 to return to remote learning.

“Our goal needs to be to get schools open and keep them open,” Farrelly asserted during the Feb. 9 meeting.

Under the new low-contact protocol, there will be no face-to-face meetings of school staff, as well as no congregation of adults in buildings or outside. Staff pods will provide coverage for individual classrooms and staff will be assigned spaces within the building for planning and eating.

“So, staff members will not congregate in the staff lounge to eat, they will be asked to eat in their classrooms or separate spaces,” Farrelly said. “Again, we don’t want to have to do this, but we are trying to open our schools and trying to keep our schools open.”

Specials and other related art classes will also be delivered virtually to students in their classrooms with the exception of Physical Education, which can be held outside. Those who work with AIG (Academically Intellectually Gifted) and ESL (English as a Second Language) students will also meet with them virtually.

Adults who provide supervision in the cafeteria must stay at least 10 feet away from other adults as well. “Part of our messaging with our staff is where we can, let’s go beyond the six feet [of social distancing],” explained Farrelly. “If we can eliminate and mitigate the amount of interaction with adults and spread them out…then we are going to be able to mitigate the number of staff that come in contact with each other and may have to be quarantined.”

Noting changes to North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services quarantine guidelines, Farrelly said that if quarantined, school staff could return to work after seven days of no symptoms with a negative COVID-19 test result after five days in quarantine.

Farrelly noted that more than 80 percent of Dare County Schools staff took advantage of the COVID-19 vaccination offered to them by the Dare County Department of Health and Human Services on Jan. 23. That percentage, he said, is actually higher because of some staff that received their vaccination elsewhere.

Staff members who received their Jan. 23 first dose are slated to receive their second dose of the vaccine on February 13.

The superintendent noted that even a vaccinated staff member will be required to quarantine if identified as a close contact of a positive COVID-19 case. He noted that the scientific reason someone who has been vaccinated still has to quarantine is because it has not been proven that a vaccinated individual cannot still be an asymptomatic carrier.

This story is a in-depth update of our previous report on school re-opening.





  • Julie

    So a 4 day school week! Teachers take Friday off why? As long as teachers go to their classrooms on Friday but probably be a stay at home day..

    Tuesday, Feb 9 @ 8:01 pm
  • Lt. Dan

    Defund the health Dept. Oh and do school staff get paid while under quarantine?

    Tuesday, Feb 9 @ 11:16 pm
  • Linda

    Teachers do not “take Friday off.” The amount of work educators have to do during non-classroom hours is incredible in the best of circumstances. Some teachers will be teaching in-person and remote at the same time. Fridays will be used for planning, giving extra help, meeting with parents, etc. There were additional reasons for this asynchronous learning day discussed, so if you didn’t listen to the meeting, I suggest you find the recording and do so.

    Wednesday, Feb 10 @ 7:13 am
  • Julie

    @Linda, I beg to disagree, educators are infamous for coming up with new vocabulary to support their causes in all my years I have never heard of an asynchronous learning day. Why in the world do elementary students need to be out of the classroom on Friday when they are in class for 4 days ? Why not go ahead and have school 5 days a week. They don’t even meet the requirements for asynchronous learning. Here’s the definition Asynchronous learning is a general term used to describe forms of education, instruction, and learning that do not occur in the same place or at the same time. The term is most commonly applied to various forms of digital and online learning in which students learn from instruction—such as prerecorded video lessons or game-based learning tasks that students complete on their own—that is not being delivered in person or in real time.
    Where will Dare County teachers be on Fridays? At their schools or at home? What’s the answer?

    Wednesday, Feb 10 @ 8:31 am
  • Dcs parent

    Can anyone clarify something for me. I was listening but had three kids in the car so some parts I missed. I thought I heard that if I don’t send my 3rd grader back immediately they will get a different teacher, one that is teaching all the 3rd grade students who are remotely learning. I’m still weighing my options and trying to make an informed decision.

    Wednesday, Feb 10 @ 9:10 am
  • Travis

    Glad to see most of the school staff took advantage of the vaccine. I’m sure there was reluctance on the part of a few, but it’s another indication of teachers’ dedication that they overcame their fears or concerns and got vaccinated.
    The hate directed at teachers is appalling. Figuring out how to educate kids during the pandemic is one of those building the plane while you are flying it endeavors. Just as there are bad doctors, bad mechanics and bad cops, I’m sure there are a few bad teachers trying to game the system. But by in large they are professionals doing their best with the hand they’ve been dealt. Those who lay every problem at their feet are…(checks thesaurus for word other than #$*@!%)…unreasonable.

    Wednesday, Feb 10 @ 10:05 am
  • Dick

    Julie you have no idea what educators go through. Worry about yourself.

    Wednesday, Feb 10 @ 11:31 am
  • Michael

    I know what the kids have gone through for over a year! I do know that.

    Wednesday, Feb 10 @ 5:14 pm
  • Linda

    @Julie, what difference does it make where the teachers are on Fridays? If a teacher can sit at a desk at home to do planning, why does that bother you? If a teacher sits outside at a picnic table to do planning, why does that bother you? The work is being accomplished and we are fortunate to have educators who care.

    Wednesday, Feb 10 @ 8:22 pm
  • Phoebe

    Everybody bickering back and forth. How many days will it take once the schools re-open for the Covid numbers to explode again??? My guess, not long at all.

    Wednesday, Feb 10 @ 8:36 pm
  • Shelly Sacra

    I just want to say , no matter what our dare county teachers are AWESOME!!! They have really come through and have shown commitment for our students! I’m a khes 5th grade mother, our teachers need community support. I don’t want my child to go back, only because I have enjoyed being home with her so much. Thanks to all khes teachers and staff.

    Wednesday, Feb 10 @ 11:12 pm
  • Steve

    The data clearly shows the transmission rate in schools is extremely low so calm down. We can’t hide forever and the kids are missing out on years they will never get back.

    As far as teachers are concerned this is ridiculous. Go to work or find another job. I’ve seen literally every one of my child’s teachers either at Walmart or out dining. Gimme a break with the we’re scared to work BS… I will say most of them want to go back. For the OMG C19 is going to “explode” stay home then. There is an option for the kids to be completely remote. Let the people who want their kids in school go to school or refund some tax money. End of story.

    Tuesday, Feb 23 @ 6:53 pm