CABARRUS COUNTY, N.C. (WBTV) - For the first time this year, students in Cabarrus County public schools are back in the classroom. After changing the plan a few times, the system settled on having all students return to class under Plan B; the combination of in-person and remote learning.
“The biggest thing is that we’re excited to see kids,” said Superintendent Dr. Chris Lowder. “When you come back and see kids today it really is exciting, but more than that is that our principals have been preparing, assistant principals, teachers, have been preparing for months and months to say how can we do this?”
Across the district, students begin their school day with a temperature check. The schools have markings on the floor and sidewalks for social distancing and hand sanitizers are easy to find in hallways and classrooms. Desks are spread apart in the classrooms. The lunchroom is empty, because students eat in class. Carts are rolled to each hall with prepared hot and cold meals that students pick up and take back to their seats.
Hickory Ridge Elementary is one of two brand new schools in Cabarrus County. Principal Adrian Parry said that attention was paid to the details of keeping students safe.
“It’s been so great seeing the kids walking through, watching their faces to see this brand new building for the very first time,” Parry said. “Watching them in awe, right? Watching them walk through, following the safety protocols, doing the screenings before they get out of the car. Our teachers have jumped right in, and our students have jumped right in since the start, so it has gone very smoothly.”
The superintendent said that by waiting until now, the system was able to see how things went in neighboring school systems and make adjustments to the plan here. Principals, teachers, and administrators visited other districts to learn from their experiences.
“When we made the decision to stay on Plan C, our community had a 10% (COVID-19) positivity rate and we really felt like that was not the way to enter. We have a great relationship with the Cabarrus Health Alliance and health department, they’ve helped us a lot, so to go from 10% to 5% when we’ve opened up is certainly more in the realm of what we recommend.”
Dr. Lowder say from what they’ve learned, he believes they’ve created an environment that is safe to bring the kids back.
“We are here, we are helping them be the very best that they can possibly be,” Principal Parry added. “We are here as a partner with (the parents) to do what’s best for the children at all times and making sure we are providing the best environment that’s safe and healthy, and a welcoming environment for our students.”