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'I think they need to revisit:' Teachers urge lawmakers to reconsider remote learning stipulations amid COVID-19 surge

Unlike last school year, state law limits all school district’s abilities to make all schools shift to remote learning.
Unlike last school year, state law limits all school district’s abilities to make all schools shift to remote learning.
Published: Jan. 3, 2022 at 6:32 PM EST
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Teachers are bracing for the start of in-person classes this week as COVID-19 cases continue to rise in North Carolina.

For the third day in a row, North Carolina health officials reported the highest number of new COVID-19 cases in a single day as more than 19,600 people tested positive Saturday, Jan. 1.

Jennifer Anderson is a middle school English Language Arts teacher in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. She’s recently had family members test positive for COVID-19 and worries more students and staff will get infected when they return to school.

“We’re very skeptical about what is the come, on tomorrow when students return,” Anderson said.

Chuck Nusinov is a middle school social studies and math teacher in CMS. He and his immediate family tested positive for COVID-19 over the winter break.

Now he’s preparing to welcome back his students while doing everything he can to stay safe.

Unlike last school year, state law limits all school district’s abilities to make all schools shift to remote learning. Now they can only do it for classes or a number of schools on a temporary basis due to staff shortages and necessary student quarantines.

“In-person is definitely beneficial to kids. The challenge is going to be finding the balance between Safety and passion for education that we need to have for our kids. Lots of concerns, lots of questions. I think the next two weeks are going to be quite interesting,” Nusinov said.

Masks are required inside of all CMS buildings. There is also enhanced cleaning/disinfecting of classrooms, bathrooms, cafeterias, and other areas.

Click here to read the other COVID-19 Safety Protocols in CMS.

“I can tell you that if a student has symptoms they are quarantined. There is personnel in place, there are protocols in place to make sure we are as safe as possible to minimize that risk,” Nusinov said.

From December 27 to January 2, CMS is reporting 38 students and 119 staff have recently tested positive.

The same data shows 135 staff members and 58 students are quarantined.

CMS COVID-19 DATA DASHBOARD

Related: CMS students to return to school as scheduled following holiday break

A letter from CMS Superintendent Earnest Winston to CMS families acknowledged the concerns from parents and the community about the high level of COVID-19 spread.

“Masks are still required indoors, and distancing will remain to the greatest extent possible. We will continue to review our practices to help mitigate the impact of the virus on our students and staff. Please keep your children home if they are ill and consider getting them tested,” the voicemail said.

Deborah Ayers is a high school cosmetology teacher, her class relies heavily on in-person demonstrations, which is why she’s in favor of returning in person. Ayers says she understands why remote learning would be helpful especially if more staff and students have to quarantine or there’s a large staff shortage.

“If it’s needed, by all means, keep everybody safe I’m not saying that. I’m just saying that if it’s necessary if it’s possible we do better in person,” Ayers said.

As the clock ticks closer to the homeroom bell, teachers are hoping lawmakers have some empathy and give the district’s grace to extend remote learning options.

“I think they need to revisit and say are we really making the decisions that are in the best interest of our students, staff, and families,” Anderson said.

“I would ask the legislature to make sure they’re staying in touch with the superintendents,” Nusinov said.

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