MORGANTON, N.C. (WBTV) - In an emergency meeting, called after Governor Roy Cooper urged school boards to act quickly, the Burke County Board of Education voted Thursday to send some school children back to the classroom starting Feb. 22.
The governor had asked for a five-day schedule but Burke County Officials decided having Wednesdays to clean facilities would also give teachers a chance to help any student that needs extra help.
The vote for elementary students was to send them back to school for four days a week with Wednesdays as a cleaning day and for remedial help for those who need it. They are currently only doing two days a week.
The vote for middle and high school students is a plan B schedule. The students will only be in-person for two days a week, with the other two days online. Wednesday will be a cleaning day for them too and no students will be there for in-person learning.
For middle and high school students, one group of students will go in-person on Tuesdays and Fridays while the other group goes in-person on Mondays and Thursdays.
It will be evaluated as time goes as to what comes next. All the changes come Feb 22. Buses will not run on Wednesdays.
Board member R.L. Icard says that extra help is needed by many students.
“We are behind, that’s not rocket science,” he said.
Seventh grader Zane Taylor was at the meeting with his mom and sister to lend their support to re-opening schools. He said this school year has been a struggle.
“It has been very hard,” he said.
Since Christmas, only elementary school students have been in the classroom and only for the past two weeks. Middle and High School students have been in 100% online learning since before the holiday break.
School officials say it has definitely taken a toll on the kids and parents and felt it would be safe enough to bring them back to the classroom, if protocols are followed.
There was some discussion about the ability of elementary school children to properly social distance and officials admitted it might not be possible in all circumstances. Mask wearing, though, will not be optional.
Superintendent Dr. Larry Putnam said many teachers are concerned and would feel better if they were vaccinated. Health officials, though, said putting teachers in line for the shots is up to officials in Raleigh to decide.
In the meantime, teachers who want to be vaccinated can sign up. Putnam said there are 595 names on the list so far.
As for waiting two weeks, officials hoped that would give parents and teachers a chance to prepare.
Officials say they will closely monitor the situation and will make adjustments when necessary and follow directions from the state as well.
Any students and teachers with special health needs should advise officials of the conditions.