Cooper: Schools to open August 17 under ‘Plan B’

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Roy Cooper

State in Phase 2 for three more weeks

Brittney Lofthouse – Contributing Writer

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper said Tuesday the state’s public schools will be open for both in person and online instruction in August.

“Let me be clear. We want our schools open for in-person instruction in August,” Cooper said. “The classroom is the best place for children to learn.”

Under “Plan B,” in-person instruction will  restrict schools to 50 percent capacity when classes starts August 17.

What exactly Plan B will look like will be up to individual districts, however, state mandated requirements will have to be followed.

Macon County Schools Superintendent Dr. Chris Baldwin said that the Board of Education will make a decision regarding what Plan B will look like for Macon County next Monday night during the July meeting.

“Principals are working together to determine how to implement these requirements at the K-4, 5-8 and 9-12 levels in Macon County,” said Dr. Baldwin. “PowerSchool data released this week will allow us to plan for siblings at different grade levels and/or schools are attending schools on the same days. Nantahala’s and Highlands’s plans will be slightly to completely different. A survey from each school will be sent to parents and staff. This survey will provide school specific information so that we can adjust our transportation routes and plan for teachers to cover the students who choose to shift completely to remote learning.”

While the details have to still be worked out, there are specific requirements districts will have to follow, which includes masks being mandatory for all students, K-12 grades. The state will be providing five cloth masks for every student and teacher, one for each day of the week.

Under Plan B, schools are required to follow key safety measures that include:

• Require face coverings for all teachers and students K-12

• Limit the total number of students, staff and visitors within a school building to the extent necessary to ensure 6 feet distance can be maintained when students/staff will be stationary

• Conduct symptom screening, including temperature checks

• Establish a process and dedicated space for people who are ill to isolate and have transportation plans for ill students

• Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces in the school and transportation vehicles regularly

• Require frequent hand washing throughout the school day and provide hand sanitizer at entrances and in every classroom

• Discontinue activities that bring together large groups

• Limit nonessential visitors and activities involving external groups

• Discontinue use of self-service food or beverage distribution.

In addition, schools are strongly recommended to follow additional safety measures that include:

• Designate hallways and entrance/exit doors as one-way

• Keep students and teachers in small groups that stay together as much as possible

• Have meals delivered to the classroom or have students bring food back to the classroom if social distancing is not possible in the cafeteria

• Discontinue activities that bring together large groups

• Place physical barriers such as plexiglass at reception desks and similar areas

If a school district in the state is experiencing an outbreak, or want to implement safety regulations beyond Plan B, the Governor said that districts can opt for Plan C, which would be all remote learning.

In addition to districts being able to select Plan B or Plan C – Governor Cooper said that all districts should offer remote learning for families who request it.

Governor Cooper also said that the state will continue to monitor the virus, and “wouldn’t hesitate” to adjust the plans based on the evolving situation, which could mean immediately implementing Plan C, or lessening restrictions.

For businesses in North Carolina, the Phase 2 extension was scheduled to expire on Friday, however Cooper also announced today that North Carolina will remain in phase two for at least another three weeks as he described the state’s current case count as “troubling.”

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