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Cornelius News

CMS board decides this afternoon on back-to-school

July 15. By Dave Yochum. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education will meet this afternoon to choose either a hybrid in-person model for back to school at a reduced capacity or a fully-remote learning option under guidelines issued by Gov. Roy Cooper Tuesday.

Back to school scenarios

The first option is known as Plan B, the second is Plan C. Plan A—minimum social distancing in an in-person classroom setting—is off the table for the 20-21 school year.

Plan B—moderate social distancing required with school facilities and vehicles limited to no greater than 50 percent—is the baseline.

CMS board members will choose between Plan B, and the stricter Plan C where classrooms for all intents and purposes are closed—and remote-only instruction is the order of the day, day-in-day-out—until the COVID-19 outbreak is under control.

It’s up to school districts statewide.

CMS decision expected today

The local reopening decision is expected to come during a 4:30 pm emergency board meeting that will be held today at Mallard Creek High School.

The context here and in many school districts is rising numbers of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths. The Los Angeles Unified School District this week announced that it will continue with online instruction for the foreseeable future because of a major increase in coronavirus cases.

Governor’s approach

During a press conference yesterday afternoon, the governor directed school districts to reopen schools with a mix of in-person instruction and remote learning for the state’s 1.5 million public school students.

The approach chosen by Cooper was Plan B. School districts were asked to prepare for all three when developing reopening plans.

“It’s a measured, balanced approach that will allow children to attend [schools] but provide important safety protocols like fewer children in the classroom, social distancing, face coverings, [frequent] cleaning and more,” Cooper said.

Districts also have the option to provide remote-only instruction if school leaders determine that’s best for their community.

This would be Plan C, a definite possibility in Mecklenburg where the COVID-19 outbreak has hit especially hard. Mecklenburg represents some 17 percent of all NC COVID-19 cases, but only 10 percent of the statewide population.

Sources said it appears to be a toss-up as to which way the CMS board will go.

Challenges ahead

Districts operating under Plan B were encouraged to provide remote-only learning opportunities for families afraid to return to schools for in-person instruction before a vaccine is developed.

NC Schools Superintendent Mark Johnson said he’d like to see a plan that gives district’s more control over how they reopen.

Cooper stressed that face coverings will be required for teachers, staff and students from kindergarten through high school.

The NC Parent Teacher Association said they support Cooper, state health officials and the N.C. Department of Public Instruction in the decision.

“It is time that we become our children’s heroes,” said NCPTA President Harold Dixon.