CMS superintendent discusses return of students to in-person learning: ‘A big moment’

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Updated: Feb. 19, 2021 at 1:55 PM EST
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Close to 46,000 Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools students returned to class this week for in-person learning.

On Monday, CMS welcomed around 26,000 students back for in-person learning, with Group A. Those who went back this week for hybrid in-person include students from elementary, Pre-K, K-8 schools and some students with disabilities.

On Thursday, another wave of elementary aged students went back with Group B, totaling close to 46,000 students in all by the week’s end.

“It was a joy to visit a few of our schools and to see our students learning in the classroom,” CMS Superintendent Earnest Winston said.

Winston discussed the recent return to in-person learning at 2 p.m. Friday:

Next week, CMS will welcome back high school students and traditional middle school students in grades 6 through 8. The students will return on their assigned rotation.

“This is a big moment for many CMS families as these students anticipate entering our buildings for the first time this school year,” Winston said. “It will be a big day.”

Many CMS staff members age 65 and older received round 1 of the COVID-19 vaccine through a partnership with Novant Health at the Spectrum Center.

“Safety is and will remain our top priority,” Winston said.

It’s the second time these groups are making the transition back to in-person learning. A transition Winston, said would be a breeze.

“Students know what to expect when they arrive at the bus and they arrive at school,” says Winston. “We’ve done this before.”

Health and safety protocols start before students get to campus. The school day is filled with constant cleaning, social distancing, healthy a safety protocols plus masks on at all times.

But not everyone is deciding to go back in-person. Close to 43-percent of CMS families opted for their child to learn at home, through the full remote academy.

A closer look at the data shows, close to 46 percent of students enrolled in the full remote academy are Black. Grade levels were relatively even with enrollment in the full remote academy.

Winston thanked families and CMS staff for their partnership in getting students prepared to transition back to in-person learning. For now, Winston says they’re taking their in-person learning plans one step at a time.

He says the district is constantly looking at how efficient and successful their system is working, and will adjust learning plans accordingly.

The return, which had already been planned, came after the CDC released guidelines heavily emphasize sending students back to school this fall, despite what the agency described as “mixed evidence about whether returning to school results in increased transmission or outbreaks” of COVID-19.

The new guidelines arrived the same day the U.S. surpassed 4 million coronavirus cases.

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