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How can schools reopen safely? Private schools have the blueprint

Updated: Feb. 3, 2021 at 8:22 PM EST
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - The trending debate surrounding public schools is whether or not it is safe to send children back to school.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that in-person learning can be done safely.

However, many teachers are still worried. They want the vaccine first.

But for private schools in Charlotte, the debate was largely settled months ago.

Many have been open all year.

With plans to bring Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools students back to in-person learning, WBTV Education Reporter Chandler Morgan learned how private schools in the viewing area have pulled it off.

Charlotte-area Catholic schools buckled down back in the summer, in the heat of the COVID-19 pandemic.

They compiled a booklet of more than 20 pages spelling out how they could start and get through the school year safely.

School officials told WBTV it was going to take much more than just planning and protocols to make this happen safely.

Now, walking through the halls of private schools like Our Lady of the Assumption Catholic School in Charlotte, it feels like what a normal day at school should.

That’s what the teachers, parents and principal Allana Rae Ramkissoon had wanted.

“Making sure students were safe, teachers were safe, and of course that parents felt comfortable sending their kids to school,” Ramkissoon said.

That meant planning from the moment the pandemic started last March.

“We decided to put a robust plan in place, that would keep safety as our focus,” Ramkissoon said.

The goal from the start was to be transparent about those plans with parents and teachers.

Ramkissoon said there was hesitation from teachers about returning to in-person teaching.

“Absolutely, there was hesitation like for teachers across the nation,’ Ramkissoon said. “But the robust set of protocols that we did, teachers began to believe that this could be done. So that their fears, turn into acceptance, and then to appreciation, you know, for being here and being able to fulfill the mission that we all are driven by.”

Ramikissoon knew returning to class amid the pandemic wasn’t going to be an easy task.

“It was all about getting teachers to buy in, arents to buy in and realize that we are all in this together,” Ramikissoon said.

That’s why strict protocols happen each day -- from health and safety to cleaning.

“We can’t teach students in the groups we usually would, but were really grateful to be in person,” teacher Sarah Morris said.

And how has it been going this school year?

“It’s been going terrific,” Morris said. “We now have the data to show that this works”

The numbers back it up.

Two percent of positive cases have been reported across students and staff in the Charlotte area’s 19 Catholic schools.

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