CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools board members voted Thursday to nix the plan they voted on two weeks ago and start the school year with full remote learning.
On July 15, the board voted to start the school year with two weeks of in-person orientation, rotating the students in and out. That will no longer happen.
Superintendent Earnest Winston says the decision was made because coronavirus cases don’t seem to be improving and the district is understaffed by more than 100 positions.
He also says it’s due to the fact that new data came out suggesting that children may carry high levels of the virus.
“Students were counting the days before they could see their classmates, but unfortunately that cannot happen right now,” Winston said.
Board members voted unanimously to keep students at home, but member Sean Strain did not hide his criticism.
“This is not a vote based on whether risk or safety is at issue here, this is a vote being forced based on staffing shortages and overall district readiness,” Strain said.
Myers Park High School student Christopher Mallis told WBTV he agrees.
“It really started to add up and a take a toll and they realized they weren’t ready for in-person learning,” he said.
According to the superintendent, there are currently more than 50 custodial vacancies, 80 bus driver vacancies, 40 nurse vacancies and 70 teacher vacancies.
Mallis says based on remote work last spring, he worries how much he’s really going to learn.
“I’d wake up about 9 o clock each day and I’d spend about three hours doing my online work and I’d be done,” Mallis said.
Board members admit they need to solve this.
“How we will ensure that these students are ready for remote in a way that would be way more effective than the way we left?” board member Lenora Shipp said. “What will we do now? What will that look like?”
The district will also offer in-person learning options for children with disabilities that keep them from being able to learn remotely.
There are approximately 20,000 students with disabilities. According to the board, most students can learn remotely but some will need to be evaluated for the potential of in-person learning. EC organizers will send letters to parents in the coming days regarding next steps.
It won’t be easy, which is why they say they need the community’s help.
“It takes a village to raise a child,” Elyse Dashew said. “We need to come back together to support our kids right now.”
Teachers are still expected to head into the classrooms starting Aug. 6 for the scheduled professional development and teacher work days.
They are also encouraged to use their classrooms throughout remote learning.
A medical advisory council is working on a set of metrics for the district to follow to determine when it is safe to re-open schools.