Brittney Lofthouse – Contributing Writer
If schools return this Fall, North Carolina has already announced it would be under one of three Plans. Plan A- minimal social distancing, Plan B- significant social distancing, or Plan C- remote learning. Last week, Governor Roy Cooper said although he had previously announced he would be deciding which plan the state will choose, he changed course and said the state needed more time to assess case numbers.
Macon County Schools had already been developing draft plans detailing how Macon County School would implement each of the three plans, depending on which one the state elected to follow. Plan A and Plan C involve less maneuvering for local districts, as those practices are straight-forward. Plan B, however, will look different for each district in the state, and for Macon County, will even look different based on individual schools.
Macon County Schools Superintendent Dr. Chris Baldwin said on Tuesday that the county is closer to finalizing details for Plan B, and although some details are still being worked out, there are a few things that will be certain in the event that is the avenue the state decides to follow.
“Things we are certain about at this point are buildings will be at 50 percent capacity, all students, staff and visitors will be screened for symptoms before entry to facilities or transportation. There will be only one student per bus seat, unless they are family living in the same house,” said Dr. Baldwin. “Masks will be required for all staff and students aged 11 and older.”
Exactly how the district will accomplish the 50% capacity is still to be worked out.
“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. “We are also waiting on our PowerSchool data to be released on July 13 so that we can plan for siblings at different grade levels and/or schools are attending schools on the same days. Nantahala and Highlands’ and plans will be different. A survey from each school will be sent to parents and staff will be sent out after the governor makes his plans known. 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.”
Another important aspect of the preparing for the Fall is the additional training for school staff.
“We are currently providing Professional Development [PD] to our teachers in order to improve the remote learning that will be included with each of the governor’s three plans,” said Dr. Baldwin. “Additionally, we will be providing PD for parents in early August regarding the use of school devices, platforms and jetpacks.”
Which plan Macon County Schools will follow will be made official once Governor Cooper and the North Carolina Department of Instruction announce it on a state level.