CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Many students in our area are heading back to the classroom in some capacity, but not all districts support the same plan.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that in-person schooling can resume safely with masks, social distancing and other strategies. Vaccination of teachers, while important, is not a prerequisite for reopening, the CDC says.
The CDC released its long-awaited road map for getting students back to classrooms in the middle of a pandemic. The agency cannot force schools to reopen, and CDC officials were careful to say they are not calling for a mandate that all U.S. schools be reopened.
The CDC changed guidance on social distancing, saying students can safely sit just 3 feet apart in the classroom as long as they wear masks. The CDC says students should be kept the usual 6 feet away from one another at sporting events, assemblies, lunch or chorus practice.
Officials said there is strong evidence now that schools can reopen, especially at lower grade levels.
Everyone age 16 and older is currently eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine in North and South Carolina.
North Carolina Superintendent Catherine Truitt joined Gov. Cooper and other state leaders in early February to urge school districts across the state to reopen for in-person instruction. South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster and state Superintendent Molly Spearman also said schools should reopen for face-to-face instruction.
The recommendations came after guidance from the CDC that schools can reopen without vaccinations.
Most schools in North Carolina began the 2020-21 school year on Monday, August 17, 2020. Districts opened under “Plan B,” allowing both in-person and remote learning, and Plan C, full remote learning.
- Plan A: Full in-person learning
- Plan B: Mix of in-classroom and remote learning
- Plan C: Full remote learning
Schools in North Carolina are required to have teachers and students (kindergarten through 12th grade) wear face coverings when they are within six feet of another person, unless an exception applies.
Recently, Cooper and state lawmakers reached an agreement on the in-person school reopening bill.
The bill, which was signed into law on March 11, requires all elementary school students to operate under Plan A, full in-person learning. Middle and high schools would have the option to operate under Plan A or Plan B.
“Getting students back into the classroom safely is a shared priority, and this agreement will move more students to in-person instruction while retaining the ability to respond to local emergencies,” Cooper said.
In South Carolina, Gov. Henry McMaster called on schools to give parents the choice between remote learning and sending their children back to school five days a week.
Students and drivers are expected to wear masks when on school buses in South Carolina in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19.
As we’re now in Spring, districts continue to adjust learning plans. Below are the latest plans for each district.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools voted to bring students back to the classroom more often. This comes after the North Carolina State Board of Education adopted guidance from state health leaders urging schools to open for in-person learning “to the fullest extent possible” while following health and safety protocols.
Starting May 10, all students will start 5 days of in-person learning.
All elementary students, K-5 and K-8, returned for in-person learning four days a week starting March 22. Wednesday is a remote learning day for all students.
Middle school and high school students were placed into two groups and have in-person learning two days a week. This plan started March 15. Group A learns in-person Monday and Tuesday and Group B learns in-person Thursday and Friday.
Pre-K, elementary, K-8, students with disabilities and IEP students returned for in-person on February 15, while another group returned February 18.
CMS set up a “symptom screener” system to help reduce the chances of COVID-19 spread.
Based on the responses, users will either see a green checkmark enabling students to go to school or a red x mark with further instruction.
In order to board a CMS bus, the Parent Symptoms Screening Authorization Form needs to be filled out. This form will be handed to the bus driver on whatever day is the first day of school for the student that week. Click here or a paper various will be provided at school.
After reviewing data, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools changed its course on the district’s reopening plans.
CMS initially started the 2020-21 school year with “Plan C,” a full remote option.
CMS Pre-K students were among the first to transition to in-person learning on October 12.
MECK Pre-K, a voluntary public pre-kindergarten program that allows parent choice based on individual family needs and preferences, started the 2020-2021 school year with in-person instruction. Registration for the program opened March 4, 2021.
On March 1, Gaston County Schools K-5 students returned to the classroom four days a week with Wednesday remaining virtual to allow for deep cleaning and teacher planning.
The Gaston County School Board voted unanimously to bring middle school and high school students back for in-person learning four days per week, beginning April 12.
Students will come to school Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. Wednesdays will be remote learning days.
Safety measures like mask wearing, hand washing, and social distancing when available will still be implemented.
This change by the school board comes after Cooper encouraged school districts to bring elementary students back into schools, following guidance from the CDC showing COVID-19 is less likely to spread inside schools versus outside.
- Health screenings: Students and employees will be evaluated as they arrive on campus. Students who don’t feel well or have a high temp will be isolated in a designated area, and the school will contact the student’s parent/guardian. Employees who don’t feel well or have a high temperature will be sent home.
- Face coverings: Face masks will be required for students and staff.
- Transportation: Buses will operate at reduced capacity with one person per seat. Family members may share seats. Bus drivers will be screened daily before each route and face masks will be required.
Rowan-Salisbury Schools are allowing students back to the classroom for four days a week.
The district voted Monday to move to Plan A.
Students in kindergarten through 5th grade will continue with the current plan to transition to Plan A, four days of face-to-face instruction with Wednesdays designated as remote learning days, on March 29.
Students with an IEP or 504 plan in grades 6-12 will begin Plan A, four days of face-to-face instruction with Wednesdays designated as remote learning days, on April 1.
All remaining students in grades 6-12 will begin Plan A, four days of face-to-face instruction with Wednesdays designated as remote learning days, on April 8.
Students at Summit Virtual Academy will remain enrolled for the remainder of the school year under the one-year commitment agreement.
- Health screenings: Staff and parents will complete a health survey daily. Temperature checks will also be performed daily.
- Face coverings: Face coverings will be will required for everyone. Face covering “breaks” will be built into the schedule.
- Social distancing: Classrooms have been rearranged to reflect social distancing.
The Cabarrus County Board of Education unanimously approved a plan allowing middle and high school students to attend school four days a week, starting April 13.
Students will now have the option to attend school in Plan A (four days a week in-person with Fridays remote), or Plan C (full remote learning).
Cabarrus County Schools began the 2020-21 school year with full remote learning, Plan C.
Iredell-Statesville Schools middle and high school students will return to full in-person learning on April 7. Students can choose to stay remote, but there will no longer be a hybrid schedule.
“Iredell Statesville Schools has been at the forefront of getting students back to school face-to-face,” stated Superintendent Jeff James. “If the Governor and NCDHHS tell us we can return to school five days a week for grades 6-12, we’ll do that as safely and quickly as we can. We’ve been waiting and planning for this announcement. Kids belong in school.”
Public schools in North Carolina continue to follow the Strong Schools NC Public Health Toolkit, provided by the NC Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS), which was updated after the first reading of House Bill 37 on February 2.
The Toolkit continues to be law. In the February 2 revision, the legal requirements to choose from Plan A, Plan B and Plan C did not change from the December 4, 2020 version of the toolkit.
Over 1,200 Iredell-Statesville Schools employees are set to receive their second COVID-19 vaccination shot, the district says. The district is hopeful that NCDHHS will make changes that allows the district to have prom this year.
- Health screenings: Temperature checks and health screenings will be administered each day at school for students and staff.
- Face coverings: Students and staff are required to wear face coverings.
- Transportation: Parents are asked to take students to school when they’re able to to avoid increased capacity on buses. Only one student will sit in a seat ubless the students are siblings. Face coverings will be required unless a medical waiver is provided.
Students in preK-12 return for in-person learning 5 days a week starting April 7.
The Kannapolis City Board of Education voted during a special meeting March 16 to return K-12 students to Plan A, in-person instruction, four days a week. Remote-only learning remains an option for all families.
April 1 will be a Remote Learning day for all students (K-12) and in-person students will return to campus on April 12 after spring break. In-person instruction days will be Mondays through Thursdays. Fridays will be remote only for all students.
Students learning remotely full-time will use an online platform called Edgenuity, which the district says is a state-approved platform that aligns with the North Carolina standards.
- Health screenings: Temperature checks will be performed upon arrival. Students believed to be ill will be assessed by a nurse and sent home.
- Face coverings: Face coverings will be will required for those on school buses and school property. Bandanas will not suffice.
- Social distancing: Social distancing will be practiced and all hallways will be one-way only.
- Transportation: Those using school transportation must fill out a health attestation. Face coverings will be required.
Union County Public Schools middle and high school students returned under Plan A beginning April 12, which is the first day after Spring Break and the first day of the final grading period.
Union County elementary students will also be in the classroom five days per week. Previously, elementary students have been in-person four days a week under Plan A since January.
Under Plan A, there is minimal social distancing.
Virtual Academy option will remain an option. For any student who wants to stay with remote learning, that option is still offered.
The school board said it will need at least two weeks to prepare to have students in the classroom safely.
Here are some of the health and safety protocols proposed:
- Plan A does not require schools to reduce the number of students in the classroom
- Plan A does not require social distancing on school buses
- UCPS will continue daily symptom and temperature screenings/checks for all students and any person who enter a school building
- Social distancing protocols will be required for anyone who enters school buildings. UCPS will continue to limit visitors to school buildings under Plan A
- Teachers will be fully vaccinated by April 3
- All students must continue to wear face coverings in school and on school buses. All staff must wear face coverings in all school buildings and offices
- UCPS will continue to provide face coverings for students, teachers and staff
- Fridays will be used to clean and sanitize the buildings
Hickory Public Schools students returned under Plan A on April 12, with four days of in-person learning and remote learning on Wednesdays.
Anson County Schools are operating under Plan B. Hundreds of students returned to the classroom March 1 for Cohort A. Cohort B students returned on March 8.
K-12 students will be in the classroom Monday through Thursday and all students will learn remotely on Fridays.
Stanly County Schools operated under under Plan C until January 15. Students resumed previously assigned schedules on January 19. This includes in-person learning for K-5th grade students Monday through Thursday. In-person learning for grades 6 through 12 based on cohorts.
- Health screenings: Temperature checks and symptom checks will be performed before anyone enters the building. There will be a dedicated space for those who are symptomatic.
- Transportation: Temperature checks will also be taken before students board buses.
All K-8 students, except high school, returned for in-person learning 5 days a week.
- Health screenings: Anyone who enters the school will be screened. Screening includes symptom checklist and temperature check. Students must be screened at home before getting on the bus, and again at school.
- Face coverings: Students and adults are required to wear face coverings when they are, or may be, within 6 feet of someone else. Face coverings will be required on transportation vehicles, inside buildings, or anywhere on school grounds.
- Transportation: Students must wear face coverings on the bus. Students must also provide the bus driver with their attestation form to ride the bus.
Lincoln County Schools is sending students back to in-person learning starting March 22. However, there is concern on getting enough meals for students.
The district will operate under Plan A, which is 5 days a week of in-person learning.
Lincoln County Schools Child Nutrition Director Shelly Rhyne says feeding students will be the biggest challenge. The district will be short about 7,000 meals. School leaders are working on a solution.
The board voted 5-2 to send students back to the classroom.
- Health screenings: Temperature checks will be performed and there will be daily health attestations.
- Face coverings: Face coverings will be will required for those on school buses and school property.
- Transportation: Buses will operate at reduced capacity
Ashe County Schools students returned to the classroom April 12 under Plan A, with four days a week of in-person learning. Students will learn remotely on Wednesdays.
Safety requirements: Ashe County Schools will follow requirements for the state as outlined in StrongSchoolsNC Public Health Toolkit
- Health screenings: Temperatures will be taken at drop off
- Face coverings: All K-12 students, teachers and staff must wear an approved face covering on buses or school transportation vehicles, inside buildings and anywhere on school grounds including outside.
- Social distancing: Students must follow 6-feet social distancing requirements
- Transportation: Buses will operate at reduced reduced capacity with one person per seat (family members can share). Hand sanitizer will be provided.
Catawba County Schools moved to Plan A for middle and high school students, starting April 12.
Students will be in the classroom four days per week: Monday through Thursday, with Friday being a remote learning day.
Staff and students will continue being screened for symptoms before entering our buildings. Face coverings will still be required to be worn by everyone.
There will no longer be capacity restrictions on buses for grades 6-12.
“By April 12, at least 85% of our certified staff will be fully vaccinated and have reached full immunity according to health recommendations,” the district said.
Elementary school students have been operating under Plan A since January.
- Health screenings: Students will receive temperature and symptom monitoring each morning before getting out of the car-rider lane, in the parking lot before entering a high school, or before entering the building after arriving by bus. Students will also be asked about symptoms. Faculty doing the checks will wear PPE. Parents will be required to stay at school until health checks are complete.
- Face coverings: Face coverings will be required unless the person is eating or drinking, or more than 6 feet away from someone else. “Mask breaks” will also take place throughout the day if/when it’s safe to do so.
- Social distancing: Social distancing will be followed and desks will be spaced six feet apart.
- Transportation: Only 24 students will be placed on a 72 passenger bus, and 22 students will be on a 66 passenger bus. Face coverings will be required. Only one passenger will be allowed per seat unless the passengers are family members. Attestation forms will be required.
K-12 students returned under plan A on April 12. Students will learn in-person four days a week, with Wednesday being a remote learning day.
Safety requirements: Caldwell County Schools will follow requirements for the state as outlined in StrongSchoolsNC Public Health Toolkit.
- Health screenings: · Everyone will be monitored for symptoms before entering the building, will be required to answer a set of questions and will have their temperature checked.
- Face coverings: Face covering must be worn inside buildings, buses or anywhere on school grounds.
- Social distancing: Students will be six feet apart in classrooms. Floors will be marked and hallways will be designated as one-way.
- Transportation: Face masks will be required. One person will be allowed in each seat except for siblings or those who live in the same house. Buses will be sanitized after each run.
Watauga County School middle and high school students returned to in-person learning four days a week starting April 12.
The district is working to find out which days students will be in class and which day will still be remote.
Watauga County Schools superintendent announced that all WCS employees planned to receive their first Moderna vaccine at an event on February 24.
Watauga County Schools started the 2020-2021 school year with nine weeks of remote learning with a “modified Plan B” aimed to safely phase back into school.
Starting April 12, 6-12 grade students returned under Plan A, with four days of in-person learning for the first two weeks. April 14 and April 21 will be remote learning days. After that, the district will be in-person 5 days a week for the rest of the school year.
Pre-K -1st grade students have 4 days on in-person learning. Grades 2-4 moved to Plan A on March. 8t.
- Health screenings: Temperature checks will be administered once students arrive at school. Symptomatic students will be placed in isolation rooms.
- Face coverings: Face covering must be worn.
- Social distancing: Students will be six feet apart.
- Transportation: Only one student will allowed to sit in a seat unless students share the same household.
Grades K-12 returned to full in-person learning on April 12.
The virtual academy will still be an option for families who want to stay fully remote.
Burke County Schools started the school year on Aug. 17 with remote learning.
Fort Mill Schools returned all middle and high school students to a five-day instructional model on March 15.
The district says the decision comes as COVID-19 cases continue to drop and after recent guidance by the CDC suggests schools do not pose high risk for transmission of COVID-19 when proper safety protocols are in place.
“The district has installed physical safety measures such as desk shields in all schools and we are finalizing protocols to encourage social distancing during high traffic times,” the district says.
The district also anticipates legislature will approve a bill that will move teachers and staff into the 1A category, allowing them to receive the vaccine sooner.
“Providing a safe and healthy educational environment for our students and staff remains the district’s top priority. We will continue to monitor the situation in our area and make any adjustments needed,” the district says.
School leaders say they will have plans in place in case they need to return to a hybrid or virtual learning model.
Middle and high school students returned to in-person learning 5 days a week starting March 22.
The learning options for Rock Hill Schools students are:
- A full return of students to face-to-face learning, five days a week.
- A full virtual option for those that choose not to return to face-to-face learning, which would be available through the Rock Hill Schools Virtual Academy.
In Chester County, all students are operating on 5 days of in-person learning.
At the start of the school year, the district provided two options to parents to choose from for instruction:
1. A full return of students to face-to-face learning (five days a week)
2. A full virtual option for those that choose not to return to face-to-face learning (Chester County Virtual Academy).
Chesterfield County Schools will begin to transition to five days of face-to-face instruction for all grades, the district said in February, looking at a March start date. “Please also know that virtual students will remain virtual even after the transition.,” the district said.
Virtual instruction resumed for students on Wednesday, January 6. Face-to-face instruction resumed for some students on Monday January, 4. Primary, elementary and intermediate schools continued 5-day a week face-to-face instruction during the weeks of January 4 and January 11.
Middle and high school students remained on the A-B hybrid schedule during those weeks.
Grades K-8 will returned to in-person learning 5 days a week starting March 22. Grades 9-12 have also started in-person learning.
Clover School District will remain in the A/B/C model for students and staff as they finalize installation of additional customized shields, hire additional bus drivers, and work towards implementation of the COVID vaccine for individuals in Phase 1B.
When the district moves fully into the 4+1 model at the middle and high school levels, parents should expect the following:
- The middle school start time will move to 8 a.m. to separate bus routes and maximize space;
- Friday will remain C-Day; and
- Students will continue to wear masks at arrival, dismissal, class change, and in the classroom. Strategic mask breaks will be provided by teachers when students are behind shields.
All Lancaster County School District students will return to in-person learning 5 days a week starting April 12.