Back to School & Beyond: District-by-district guide to the school year

Students across N.C. start the 2020-2021 school year

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - There is controversy over sending students back into the classroom and not all school districts in our area are following the same plan.

Gov. Roy Cooper gave districts the choice between two options as North Carolina schools reopened in August under “Plan B,” allowing both in-person and remote learning.

Most schools in North Carolina reopened on Monday, August 17, 2020.

On Sept. 17, Gov. Cooper announced that beginning on October 5, North Carolina public school districts and charter schools could choose to implement Plan A (full-time in-person learning) for elementary schools (grades K-5).

Plan A continues to include important safety measures like face coverings for all students, teachers and staff, social distancing, and symptom screening, but does not require schools to reduce the number of children in the classroom.

Part 1: Back To School & Beyond, a WBTV Special

WBTV SPECIAL: BACK TO SCHOOL AND BEYOND Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6

The “Plan B” approach lets students participate in a mix of in-classroom and remote learning. This plan involves some students potentially rotating schedules, with some students not coming onto campus at all. Schools were allowed the option of completely virtual learning, as laid out in North Carolina‘s “Plan C.”

Cooper said this plan is “a measured, balanced approach that will allow children to attend but provide important safety protocols like fewer children in the classroom, social distancing, face masks and more.”

Schools in North Carolina are required to have teachers and students (kindergarten through 12th grade) wear face coverings when they are within six feet of another person, unless an exception applies.

Cooper announced that $95 million in federal funds would be used to help schools across the state with resources, including nurses and counselors. Parents of younger children are also struggling with childcare. Residents looking for a resource for safe and reliable childcare can call 888-600-1685, as recommended by the governor.

For more guidance on North Carolina’s school reopening and safety measures being taken, click here. For frequently asked questions about school reopenings, click here.

In South Carolina, Gov. Henry McMaster called on schools to give parents the choice between remote learning and sending their children back to school five days a week.

“If a parent wants to send their child back to school, they should be able to do so - and do so with confidence,” McMaster said, “If a parent wants to keep a child at home, they should be able to do that, and do it with confidence.”

The State Department of Education directed public schools to submit their completed school reopening plans for review and approval in July.

Students and drivers are expected to wear masks when on school buses in South Carolina in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19.

NORTH CAROLINA SCHOOLS

CHARLOTTE-MECKLENBURG SCHOOLS

Pre-K, elementary, K-8, students with disabilities and IEP students will return for in-person on February 15.

Traditional middle and high school students will return for in-person learning on February 22.

After reviewing data, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools changed its course on the district’s reopening plans for the upcoming school year.

CMS started the 2020-21 school year with “Plan C,” a full remote option.

CMS Pre-K students were among the first to transition to in-person learning on October 12.

CMS Pre-K students transition to in-person learning

On Monday, Nov. 2, around 40,000 K-5 CMS students returned to the classroom on a rotating schedule. Elementary students went back on the A and B rotating schedule for in-person learning.

MECK Pre-K, a voluntary public pre-kindergarten program that allows parent choice based on individual family needs and preferences, started the 2020-2021 school year with in-person instruction.

GASTON COUNTY SCHOOLS

The Gaston County School Board also voted to reopen in the fall under Plan B, meaning schools reopened with a combination of in-person and remote instruction.

Students were divided into groups. One group attends school on Monday and Tuesday, and the other group attends on Thursday and Friday.

All students engage in remote learning at home on Wednesday and on the weekdays when they are not at school.

Safety requirements:

  • Health screenings: Students and employees will be evaluated as they arrive on campus. Students who don’t feel well or have a high temp will be isolated in a designated area, and the school will contact the student’s parent/guardian. Employees who don’t feel well or have a high temperature will be sent home.
  • Face coverings: Face masks will be required for students and staff.
  • Transportation: Buses will operate at reduced capacity with one person per seat. Family members may share seats. Bus drivers will be screened daily before each route and face masks will be required.

The Rowan-Salisbury School Board of Education voted to send elementary students to class for in-person learning four days a week (Plan A) effective March 29.

Plan B began for these students on Jan. 6.

Safety requirements:

  • Health screenings: Staff and parents will complete a health survey daily. Temperature checks will also be performed daily.
  • Face coverings: Face coverings will be will required for everyone. Face covering “breaks” will be built into the schedule.
  • Social distancing: Classrooms have been rearranged to reflect social distancing.

Cabarrus County Schools are operating under Plan C through January 15. Plan B will begin on January 19, with students returning in-person for two days and learning remotely for three days.

The Cabarrus County Board of Education voted to begin the 2020-21 school year with full remote learning, Plan C.

IREDELL-STATESVILLE SCHOOLS

Iredell-Statesville Schools are limited to no greater than 50 occupancy and students will have the option between blended learning and virtual learning.

For grades K-8, students whose last name begins with the letter A through M will attend schools on Mondays and Tuesdays and students with a last name that begins with N through Z will attend schools on Thursdays and Fridays. Students will have virtual learning on the three days that they are not on the school campus.

Iredell-Statesville Schools plan to have elementary school students back in the classroom full-time on October 5.

The district says students may be grouped differently based in AIG, EC or ESL status or if they have siblings who have a different last name.

For grades 9-12, students will practice “blended learning” Monday through Friday. High schools will designate days for courses that require in-person learning.

As a result of a recent positive COVID-19 result, all 7th grade students and teachers at Third Creek Middle will begin the year with remote learning.

Safety requirements:

  • Health screenings: Temperature checks and health screenings will be administered each day at school for students and staff.
  • Face coverings: Students and staff are required to wear face coverings.
  • Transportation: Parents are asked to take students to school when they’re able to to avoid increased capacity on buses. Only one student will sit in a seat ubless the students are siblings. Face coverings will be required unless a medical waiver is provided.

KANNAPOLIS CITY SCHOOLS

Kannapolis City Schools will operate under Plan C through February 15.

Kanapolis City Schools previously operated under the blended learning, and students were split into two groups

  • Group A: Face-to-face learning on Monday and Tuesday, and remote learning on Wednesday and Thursday.
  • Group B: Remote learning on Monday and Tuesday and face-to-face learning on Wednesday and Thursday.

Friday was a remote-learning day for all students.

Students learning remotely full-time will use an online platform called Edgenuity, which the district says is a state-approved platform that aligns with the North Carolina standards.

Safety requirements:

  • Health screenings: Temperature checks will be performed upon arrival. Students believed to be ill will be assessed by a nurse and sent home.
  • Face coverings: Face coverings will be will required for those on school buses and school property. Bandanas will not suffice.
  • Social distancing: Social distancing will be practiced and all hallways will be one-way only.
  • Transportation: Those using school transportation must fill out a health attestation. Face coverings will be required.

Union County Public Schools will operate under Plan C through January 8.

Students resumed previously assigned schedules on January 11.

Safety requirements:

  • Health screenings: Temperature checks will be performed daily before anyone enters the building. There will be a dedicated space for those who are symptomatic.
  • Face coverings: Face coverings will be will required for those on school buses and school property.
  • Social distancing: Six-foot social distancing will be practiced in classrooms.
  • Transportation: Buses will operate at a reduced capacity with one person per seat.

Plan A will begin for K-3rd grade students on January 5. This plan will have in-class learning for K-3 students four days a week (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday). Wednesdays will be remote learning days.

Grades 4-12 will operate under Plan B until further notice.

Anson County Schools will be fully remote through January 29. In-person learning will resume February 1.

Stanly County Schools operated under under Plan C until January 15. Students are to resume previously assigned schedules on January 19. This includes in-person learning for K-5th grade students Monday through Thursday.

Stanly County Schools developed a plan to reopen based on the requirements announced by Cooper: Full remote learning of in-person instruction.
Stanly County Schools developed a plan to reopen based on the requirements announced by Cooper: Full remote learning of in-person instruction. (Source: Stanly County Schools)

Safety requirements:

  • Health screenings: Temperature checks and symptom checks will be performed before anyone enters the building. There will be a dedicated space for those who are symptomatic.
  • Transportation: Temperature checks will also be taken before students board buses.

Students returned to in-class instruction on January 5.

Safety requirements:

  • Health screenings: Anyone who enters the school will be screened. Screening includes symptom checklist and temperature check. Students must be screened at home before getting on the bus, and again at school.
  • Face coverings: Students and adults are required to wear face coverings when they are, or may be, within 6 feet of someone else. Face coverings will be required on transportation vehicles, inside buildings, or anywhere on school grounds.
  • Transportation: Students must wear face coverings on the bus. Students must also provide the bus driver with their attestation form to ride the bus.

The semester started on January 11.

Students started on August 17 under Plan B in Lincoln County. Parents of high-risk students and families may choose for their child to learn remotely, the district says.

A blended, hybrid model of learning with both in-person and remote learning will be in place. Students in grades K-8 will remain in self contained classrooms for Core Content instruction.

The district will operate with staggered entry at 25% for the first two weeks and approximately 50% during week 3. Students will be divided into 4 cohorts. Open House would occur virtually August 11-13.

The Lincoln County Schools Board of Education then approved for elementary grades to transition into Plan ‘A’ beginning October 13.

Safety requirements:

  • Health screenings: Temperature checks will be performed and there will be daily health attestations.
  • Face coverings: Face coverings will be will required for those on school buses and school property.
  • Transportation: Buses will operate at reduced capacity

ASHE COUNTY SCHOOLS

Students in Ashe County Schools will return for in-person learning on January 5.

Initially, grades K-12 were to follow a hybrid model which included both face-to-face instruction and remote learning from home on designated days.

Safety requirements: Ashe County Schools will follow requirements for the state as outlined in StrongSchoolsNC Public Health Toolkit

  • Health screenings: Temperatures will be taken at drop off
  • Face coverings: All K-12 students, teachers and staff must wear an approved face covering on buses or school transportation vehicles, inside buildings and anywhere on school grounds including outside.
  • Social distancing: Students must follow 6-feet social distancing requirements
  • Transportation: Buses will operate at reduced reduced capacity with one person per seat (family members can share). Hand sanitizer will be provided.

CATAWBA COUNTY SCHOOLS

Students will return for in-person learning on January 5.

Safety requirements:

  • Health screenings: Students will receive temperature and symptom monitoring each morning before getting out of the car-rider lane, in the parking lot before entering a high school, or before entering the building after arriving by bus. Students will also be asked about symptoms. Faculty doing the checks will wear PPE. Parents will be required to stay at school until health checks are complete.
  • Face coverings: Face coverings will be required unless the person is eating or drinking, or more than 6 feet away from someone else. “Mask breaks” will also take place throughout the day if/when it’s safe to do so.
  • Social distancing: Social distancing will be followed and desks will be spaced six feet apart.
  • Transportation: Only 24 students will be placed on a 72 passenger bus, and 22 students will be on a 66 passenger bus. Face coverings will be required. Only one passenger will be allowed per seat unless the passengers are family members. Attestation forms will be required.

Caldwell County’s Board of Education approved a blended education model for the beginning of the year, consisting of in-person instruction combined with remote learning. Parents were able to opt for full remote learning in grades K-12.

Effective January 4, Wednesday will be a remote learning day for K-5th grade.

Safety requirements: Caldwell County Schools will follow requirements for the state as outlined in StrongSchoolsNC Public Health Toolkit.

  • Health screenings: · Everyone will be monitored for symptoms before entering the building, will be required to answer a set of questions and will have their temperature checked.
  • Face coverings: Face covering must be worn inside buildings, buses or anywhere on school grounds.
  • Social distancing: Students will be six feet apart in classrooms. Floors will be marked and hallways will be designated as one-way.
  • Transportation: Face masks will be required. One person will be allowed in each seat except for siblings or those who live in the same house. Buses will be sanitized after each run.

Watauga County Schools will start the 2020-2021 school year with nine weeks of remote learning with a “modified Plan B” aimed to safely phase back into school.

School officials first announced that students would return under a 2x3 Flex plan, where students would attend school in person for two days and then be schooled remotely for three days.

Students in Kindergarten through 12th grade on the 2x3 Flex plan will start the school year fully remote on August 17. District officials say students will return for in-person instruction under Plan B of the 2x3 Flex Plan on October 19, if conditions allow.

School personnel will contact families who applied for the Watauga Virtual Academy (WVA) to make sure they still want to move forward with that option.

CLEVELAND COUNTY SCHOOLS

Cleveland County Schools will continue operating under Plan B, a blended method of in-person and remote learning, until February 8. Remote learning will begin on January 20.

Safety requirements:

  • Health screenings: Temperature checks will be administered once students arrive at school. Symptomatic students will be placed in isolation rooms.
  • Face coverings: Face covering must be worn.
  • Social distancing: Students will be six feet apart.
  • Transportation: Only one student will allowed to sit in a seat unless students share the same household.

BURKE COUNTY SCHOOLS

Burke County Schools will operate under Plan C until January 25.

Burke County Schools started on Aug. 17 with remote learning. The district, which initially planned to start under Plan B, before deciding to learn remotely for the first several weeks of school. The original plan would have had students go to school two days a week, but the plan changed due to the continued rise of COVID-19 cases.

SOUTH CAROLINA SCHOOLS

Fort Mill Schools is allowing middle and high school students to return to in-person instruction for five days a week, starting on March 15.

The district announced the changes Monday.

The district says it will following COVID-19 protocols, such as requiring masks to be worn and there will be tall three-sided plastic desk shields on all desks.

ROCK HILL SCHOOL DISTRICT

The learning options for Rock Hill Schools students are:

  • A full return of students to face-to-face learning, five days a week.
  • A full virtual option for those that choose not to return to face-to-face learning, which would be available through the Rock Hill Schools Virtual Academy.

Students who choose in-person learning will attend in a C/A/B/A/B model, Rock Hill Schools says. That plan will be published here.

The new calendar pushes the start date for all students to Tuesday, September 8. Pre-K through 8th grade students will participate in LEAP week, August 31 - September 4, in small groups to become more acclimated to the procedures that will be put in place for the year, the district says.

In Chester County, students returned on January 6.

At the start of the school year, the district provided two options to parents to choose from for instruction:

1. A full return of students to face-to-face learning (five days a week)

2. A full virtual option for those that choose not to return to face-to-face learning (Chester County Virtual Academy).

Chester County Schools will start back on September 8, with Pre-K to 8th grade starting LEAP August 20 through August 26.

Chester County’s four-phase plan to return students for more days in the classroom will be implemented in early 2021, and will consist of merging hybrid Cohorts A and B for a four-day per week schedule.

Fridays will remain as a remote day for all students, and as an extra sanitation day for the schools. The Virtual Academy will continue normal operations.

Chester County Schools may revert back to a full distance learning model at any time in response to COVID-19. Phases and dates may also be modified upon reentry considerations.

Parents/guardians may have an opportunity to switch their students' schedules from virtual to hybrid by completing an online survey from November 2, 2020 until November 20, 2020.

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY SCHOOLS

Virtual instruction resumed for students on Wednesday, January 6. Face-to-face instruction resumed for some students on Monday January, 4. Primary, elementary and intermediate schools continued 5-day a week face-to-face instruction during the weeks of January 4 and January 11.

Middle and high school students remained on the A-B hybrid schedule during those weeks.

York School District One created a full-time online learning program to accommodate students who may not be ready to return to face-to-face instruction due to COVID-19 or other concerns. The program will serve students in grades K through 12. The virtual academy will continue to operate using online learning and teaching, regardless of the level of spread of COVID-19, the district says.

Families will enroll their students(s) in the face-to-face setting as determined by the district; Traditional, Hybrid, or Remote. The district and/or school will communicate directly to parents when changes in the student learning model must be initiated.

York School District 1
York School District 1 (Source: York County District One)

E-learning will begin for students on January 4 and 5.

The Clover School District stuck with its originally published back-to-school plan, one that is similar to surrounding districts of Rock Hill and Fort Mill. Students headed back on August 24, and elementary schools started their A/B schedule on August 31.

The district is offered a three-tiered plan that includes a “Traditional Model, a “Hybrid Model” and an “eLearning Model.”

The Hybrid Model, which was in place at the beginning of the school year, put middle and high school students on a blended schedule. The Hybrid Model for this group is called the A/B/“S.E.E.” Model:

  • Half of the students will receive in-person instruction on Monday and Wednesday and the other half will receive in-person instruction on Tuesday and Thursday. Select students will participate in small-group learning on Fridays. Middle school students will start school at 8:30 a.m. and high school students will start at 9 a.m. each day to allow buses to drop off middle school students first and then travel to the high school.

The Hybrid Model for elementary students is called the Family Model:

  • Elementary students will attend school at their regular time (7:30 a.m. – 2:20 p.m.) five days a week. Students will receive all instruction, meals, and related arts in their classrooms. All families who need bus transportation are asked to register for a bus seat. Parents will be sent a link by the district to register.

CSD also offered eLearning to grades PK – 12 “if the spread of the virus forces us to move to back to eLearning for a class, a school, or for the whole district.”

The first semester ended Friday, January 15 and was a half-day for students. The second semester will begin on Wednesday, January 20.

This year looks different for everyone - whether learning or teaching from home, remotely or both - we’re sharing pictures of how this back to school year looks for you.

Upload your pictures here.

Copyright 2020 WBTV. All rights reserved.