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Board of Education Approves Transition to Plan A for Elementary Students

Craven County Schools

At the Board of Education Work Session on November 10, 2020, the Board of Education took action to transition all elementary students in grades one through five to four (4) days a week of in-person learning effective Thursday, January 7, 2021. In-person learning will take place on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. Wednesdays will continue to be dedicated as a remote learning day. The ability to return elementary students to Plan A was authorized by Governor Cooper giving districts the decision about when this will occur. According to Dr. Mandy Cohen, Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, “the current science shows that younger children are less likely to become infected, have symptoms, experience severe disease or spread the virus.” Although elementary students are able to return, we do not yet have the flexibility to provide this option for middle or high school students.

Plan A means that elementary students will return to classrooms four days a week with minimal social distancing. Therefore, class sizes will return to pre-COVID-19 numbers of students in each room. A list of all health and safety protocols is attached to this release for the reference of our families and stakeholders.

The ability to return elementary students to Plan A relies upon our teachers and staff being free from illness and exposure to COVID-19. Craven County Schools employees take extraordinary measures daily to ensure the health of everyone in our buildings. Experience with our employees and students over the last eight months demonstrates that most, if not all, of the source of infection has been the result of contacts outside our school. Community rates of infection generally increase after breaks or significant events. Increased cases have been observed after Labor Day and Halloween for example. The administration and Board anticipate the same impacts after Veteran’s Day, Thanksgiving, and the Christmas holidays. January 7, 2021 was decided as the start date for elementary students to return to school under Plan A because of those trends and to contribute to the best chances of consistency in attendance after the holidays. This consistency will help our students have the continuity of teaching and learning they need to succeed at the highest levels this school year.

Wednesday’s will provide time for our custodial staff to have a day, in the middle of the week, dedicated to thoroughly clean all classrooms and school spaces in ways that are difficult when there is high traffic. In addition, this will help our educators have the time for professional learning and planning that will be necessary to meet the needs of not only the students who are coming in person, but those who may have to be quarantined due to COVID-19 or other illness. We have asked a great deal of our educators this year, and this time is important for them to be able to complete all that is required to support the many options we have to provide to students during the 2020-2021 school year.

Middle and High School Students Continue on Plan B Under the Direction of the Governor The Craven County Schools Board of Education wishes to transition our middle and high school students to Plan A when it is allowed and safe. Currently this is not authorized by the state of North Carolina. At this time middle and high school students will continue with one (1) day of in-person learning in Plan B. However, our school leaders are reaching out to families on a case-by-case basis if additional days are possible. Unfortunately, many of our classrooms do not have the space to accommodate all students for additional days with the six-foot distancing requirement. Our school leaders, together with district administrators, will continue to evaluate safe options and possible alternatives for middle and high school students.

2nd Semester Educational Intentions (In-Person or Craven LIVE Virtual Program) The North Carolina General Assembly has required that each school district provide a virtual-only educational option for all public-school students for the 2020-2021 school year. In Craven County Schools, our virtual program is called Craven LIVE. When this program was opened for the beginning of this school year, we informed families that the initial commitment to this virtual program was for the semester that ends at the holiday break (December 18, 2020). As a result, we need to know everyone’s intention for the second semester of this school year. A form has been distributed to each student requesting they designate their choice for the second semester beginning January 6, 2021. This form was distributed on November 9, 2020. It is due no later than Monday, November 16, 2020. This form will help the district plan appropriately for in-person learning and remote learning. For any elementary families who are not ready to transition to Plan A, Craven LIVE is still an option for the second half of the school year. Please complete the intent form to participate in this full remote learning option.

The safety, health, and well-being of all students and staff continues to be the main priority in all decisions made by the Board of Education. Our students and staff have done a wonderful job following the daily protocols necessary to ensure everyone’s safety while at school. We ask that our families continue the same protocols at home and while out in the community so our children can remain in school.

With the holidays approaching our students, their families, and our employees will understandably be making plans to spend time with family and friends. To keep one another safe, especially our loved ones, we encourage everyone to limit the number of people you are in close contact with and to continue to follow the 3 W’s (wear your face covering, wash your hands frequently, and wait six feet or maintain physical distance).

The Board of Education wishes to thank our families and the community for the understanding and support to make decisions in the best interest of our students and staff. This has been a difficult time and we recognize the burden this has placed on everyone in our community. We are eager to return to normal and hope that by coming together to observe the public health protocols advocated by our local health department, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, and the Centers for Disease Control, we will be able to return to a more regular routine. Our children need us to rise to this occasion and we are confident that we can do it if we all work together.

Elementary Plan A Safety and Health Protocols by School Location Safety protocols

  • Cloth face coverings are required for all students, staff, and visitors.
  • Daily cleaning and disinfection will be performed throughout the school.
  • Non-essential campus visitors will be limited.

On the Bus

  • Symptom Screening (parents must be with their child in the morning with students) will continue.
  • Cloth face coverings are required for all riders.
  • Physical distancing to the greatest extent possible (dependent upon ridership).
  • Thorough cleaning of buses (high touch services) will continue.

Arriving at school

  • Temperature checks and health screening will continue upon arrival.
  • Any student experiencing symptoms will be sent home.

In the classroom

  • All students attending school on site will be in the classroom with their assigned teacher.
  • A mid-day temperature check will continue.
  • Teachers will continue to provide students morning and afternoon face covering breaks as well as frequent handwashing throughout the school day.
  • Resources (Art, Music, PE) will continue in the classroom or outdoors when possible.

Around the building

  • Limited movement throughout the building. Social distancing will be practiced when moving.
  • Social distancing floor markings and other reminders will remain in place.
  • Breakfast and lunch will be served in the classroom.
  • Resources (Art, Music, PE) will continue in the classroom or outdoors when possible.

By Jennifer Wagner, Director of Public Relations, Craven County Schools