CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools approved a plan that will allow elementary school students to have increased in-person learning when they return to classrooms on Nov. 2.
The vote by the Board of Education passed unanimously, 9-0.
Not only that, but CMS Board of Education discussed its plan for instruction, public health/safety and district and school-level operations.
Elementary school students, K-5, will be able to attend school in-person two days each week and will be split into two groups -- A and B.
District leaders say that instead of three groups rotating every week for in-person learning, there will be two groups and the students in each group will be in school for two days each week beginning November 2.
“After comprehensive study of the in-person instructional plan, we have found a way to increase the time and frequency that K-5 students will spend with their teachers in the classroom,” CMS Superintendent Earnest Winston said. “We will implement social-distancing in schools as much as possible and we’ll focus on making sure everyone wears a mask and washes hands frequently to reduce the risk of infection. We have worked closely with our partners in the medical community to find a way to get our kids back into classrooms with a minimum of risk.”
District leaders said the reason for the decision is based on the public health metrics in Mecklenburg County.
The county’s metrics are in yellow, which means the school district is able to entertain in-school instruction.
As of Thursday, the county is at 6.5 percent positivity rate, which is a moderate community spread.
“Our goal is to get students and staff back together in school,” Winston said, “Our priority is to make that happen when it is safe to do so.”
The proposal and recommendation Thursday night will not accelerate the previously-approved timetable of Nov. 2, nor will it be a vote to go into full plan A.
The main change made to the plans Thursday night has to do with the rotating schedule of students.
Beginning Nov. 2, an “Group A” will attend school in person on Monday and Tuesday, while “Group B” will be in class on Thursday and Friday. Wednesdays will be dedicated for remote learning.
Teachers will be able to return to their classrooms on Oct. 19.
CMS previously approved a phased approach to bring students back into the classroom over the next few months.
The start dates for the phases are as follows:
- Sept. 29: Students in Exceptional Children (EC) programs return.
- Oct. 12: Pre-K students return.
- Nov. 2: K-5 students return (grade levels rotate with A,B,C cohorts).
- Nov. 23: Middle school students return (grade levels rotate with A,B,C cohorts).
- Dec. 14: High school students return for end of semester in-person testing, but in-person instruction doesn’t start until Jan. 5. (grade levels rotate with A,B,C cohorts)
“This modification will increase the amount of face-to-face instructional time for our youngest learners,” said Board Chairperson Elyse Dashew. “Like the earlier plan, it minimizes the risk of spreading the COVID-19 virus, but it also maximizes the time K-5 students have with their teachers. We think it’s in the best interests of our students to give them greater opportunities to learn in the classroom while continuing to be mindful of local public health concerns.”
Students must wear face coverings and abide by social distancing guidelines. Students will not be playing on the playground equipment but will still be allowed to play outside.
Each Wednesday, classrooms will have a full cleaning.
Pre-K students do not have the A, B, C cohorts. They would all show up for their learning days, per NCDHHS guidance.
Testing in December for high school grade levels will be in-person testing, but their in-person instruction will not start until Jan. 5.
Schools with nontraditional grade spans, such as the district’s K-8 schools, Cochrane Collegiate Academy and Northwest School of the Arts, will return in carefully sequenced phases, with students in grades six through eight returning with other middle school students, and students in grades nine through 12 returning with other high school students.
Students whose families opted to participate in the Full Remote Academy will remain in the academy through the first semester unless families request an exemption. Any requests to transfer from the Full Remote Academy into the in-person rotation will be addressed by schools individually.
The safety metrics in the plan set specific thresholds for determining when a school or schools have infection rates that would trigger action. To see the full plan, click here.
The district will also communicate additional details about the phased return to in-person instruction, including classroom social distancing, transportation and bus routes, school and classroom sanitation, nutrition services, and state-mandated health/safety checks and temperature screenings.
A database of COVID cases by school and date will be updated weekly and shared with families. Parents should update their contact information with schools to ensure they receive this timely information.