Public health director recommends remote learning for CMS for 3 more weeks; parents, teachers speak out

Updated: Jan. 12, 2021 at 11:14 PM EST
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools is set to allow students to return to in-person learning starting next week.

However, county public health director Gibbie Harris has recommended that schools remain in remote learning for at least another three weeks.

Based on new info coming out Tuesday afternoon from Harris, the board will have an emergency meeting Thursday at 10:30 am to consider changes to the current plan, which has students going back next week for in-person learning, according to CMS board chair Elyse Dashew.

The CMS board made the vote last month to move the remaining students who are still in-person learning (Pre-K and students in Exceptional Children’s program) to fully remote learning until Jan. 19.

The rest of the district was already fully remote, so that means all of CMS will now be fully remote until Jan. 19.

On Tuesday, Harris issued a directive asking residents to stay home as much as possible for the next three weeks as the fight continues against COVID-19.

School board leaders are considering the public health director’s recommendation.

The board discussed the topic at Tuesday’s board meeting.

However, board members did not vote.

A lot of families are paying close attention to the decision.

There are a lot of strong opinions on whether children should be going back to school.

More than 70 people signed to speak to tell the board how they feel about CMS going back to school next week.

Many teachers want the board to change their plans.

One CMS teacher speaking to the board said, “CMS should stay remote until a vaccine is distributed.”

That same teacher asked the board what they will do when they read a headline that says “CMS teacher dies from virus due to multiple underlying health conditions after going back for in-person.”

Parents voiced their concerns due to CMS not allowing after-school activities, such as performing arts right now.

They told the school board that it’s inequitable for sports and athletics to be allowed to happen when performing arts practices and performances are not allowed.

Another parent asked the board for CMS to go with Plan C, and then set a date at a later time to reevaluate. She said, “kids are suffering from the fatigue of constantly switching plans.”

Another CMS teacher told the board, “once again we are putting our lives on the line,” by going back to in-person learning.

Another teacher asked why the CMS board is in a rush to get students back into the classroom during the pandemic. The teacher said they shouldn’t be having to choose between the love of their jobs and the love of their own lives.

At Tuesday’s school board meeting, the board voted to grant CMS Superintendent Earnest Winston sole authority to move portions of schools into remote learning, meaning he could essentially move certain grade levels of schools to remote learning if they meet criteria.

“That directive...what this tells us is our ability to open schools and keep them open depends on more than what we can control,” Winston said. “Community spread is high and we all have a responsibility to get this back under control.”

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