Union Co. Board of Education votes to send all students back in-person five days a week

Union Co. Board of Education votes to send all students back in-person five days a week
Union County Public School’s elementary students are already operating under Plan A. (Source: WBTV)

UNION COUNTY, N.C. (WBTV) - Union County Public Schools voted Monday to move elementary, middle and high school students to Plan A beginning April 12, which is the first day after Spring Break and the first day of the final grading period.

That means all students in the Union County Public Schools district will be in the classroom all five days a week.

The Union County Board of Education held an emergency meeting Monday to discuss Senate Bill 220, which involves moving all public schools to plans A or B.

Under the new bill, all schools must offer in-person education options for students. Elementary schools will now operate under Plan A (minimal social distancing), and secondary schools must offer Plan A or B (a mix of in-person and virtual learning).

Virtual learning opportunities will continue to be offered, too.

April 12, which is the first day after Spring Break and the first day of the final grading period, is now an in-person learning day.

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“This date would allow schools to have adequate time to adjust master schedules and balance class loads if needed, and better operationally prepare to serve larger groups of students.”

Union County elementary students have been in-person four days a week under Plan A since January. Under Plan A, there is minimal social distancing.

“I feel the kids can return safely back to school for more than two days a week. My eighth-grade son has steadily earned good grades and he has still been able to do so...but I know there is a daily struggle. There is a lack of social interaction, he hasn’t really developed any real friendships, he can barely remember the names of the kids in his class. When you’re in school, there is a built-in structure, when he’s at home, he is in charge of managing his day,” said Union County parent Maria Gonsalves.

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

Delena Helms has three children in elementary schools and an eighth-grader in Union County Public schools.

“I don’t want to go to Plan A, it terrifies me. He’s asthmatic,” Helms said about her eighth-grader. “I have a 19-month-old son that is asthmatic.”

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