CMS Board votes to move K-12 students to remote learning due to COVID-19 concerns

Parents, teachers divided over Plan C

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - The Charlotte-Mecklenburg School Board has voted to move all K-12 students to remote learning on Dec. 14 due to the increasing spread of coronavirus in the county.

The Board decision means that students will be in full remote learning from Dec. 14 until Jan. 19. High school and middle school students who are scheduled to come to school for testing Dec. 14 through Dec. 18 will still be expected to do so.

Students with disabilities will continue to have equal access to remote instruction and in-person instruction consistent with their individualized education plans.

The decision also does not change instruction for pre-kindergarten students as Pre-K will continue to be offered in-person learning.

“Discussions with public health experts indicate expectations of more increases in community spread of COVID-19 in the weeks ahead,” Winston said. “While these experts have not said that in-person learning is a significant contributor to spread, as cases rapidly increase in the community, schools will feel the impact. We are taking this step proactively.”

The motion also said that unused local leave for employees, which was set to expire Dec. 31, will now be extended to Jan. 15, 2021.

Students will return to school buildings on Jan. 19 according to their rotation schedules. K-5, K-8 and grades six through 12 schools will return with Rotation A students.

The Board acted after Superintendent Earnest Winston made a recommendation to return to remote learning because of increased numbers of COVID-19 infections in Mecklenburg County.

“None of us wants to put our kids back behind a computer screen instead of in the classroom with a live teacher,” said Board Chair Elyse Dashew. “But the health and safety of our students and staff comes first – and the COVID-19 metrics indicate that the number of infections is going up and will continue to do so for a while. So we will return to remote learning for K-12 students.”

The district released new information Monday.

Although there are no clusters in the school district, the metrics showed 102 CMS schools had at least a COVID-19 case reported in the past two weeks. It shows 67 students with COVID-19 and 94 teachers.

Teachers, students and parents addressed CMS school board members at their virtual meeting on Tuesday night. Teachers planned a virtual rally to send a strong message to board members right before the school board meeting.

“This constant upheaval does far greater damage to a child’s psyche than remote learning,” said CMS teacher Erlene Lyde, who was in favor of remote learning.

Some parents and students also held a rally Tuesday pushing for in person learning. Many of them said remote learning was having a negative impact on their children’s grade performance, social lives, and mental health.

“We should have a choice and they deserve a choice we all deserve a choice and for us that choice is being in school,” said Erin Phillips, a parent of CMS students.

CMS had already previously given the superintendent authority to close individual schools but it took board approval to close schools district-wide to implement remote learning.

Mecklenburg County has had 48,033 reported coronavirus cases and 480 deaths since March.

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