COVID-19: N.C. Schools Can Reopen Under New Plan

COVID-19: N.C. Schools Can  Reopen Under New Plan

COVID-19: N.C. Schools Can Reopen Under New Plan Featured

By / Local News / Tuesday, 14 July 2020 15:26

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NORTH CAROLINA - Governor Roy Cooper announced Tuesday July 14th, that schools will open for in-person classes under "Plan B" which will require face masks for all students K-12, reduced class sizes, social distancing for all within a school building and other safety protocols.
Cooper explained during a 3pm press conference on Tuesday, "The most important opening is that of our classroom doors. Our schools provide more than academics; they are vital to our children’s’ health, safety and emotional development," and, "This is a difficult time for families with hard choices on every side. I am committed to working together to ensure our students and educators are as safe as possible and that children have opportunities to learn in the way that is best for them and their families."
The State put forward "The Strong Schools NC Public Health Toolkit" which outlines the updated requirements for Plan B.
According to State officials, school districts may choose to operate under Plan C, which calls for remote learning only, and health leaders recommend schools allow families to opt in to all-remote learning. Modifications have been made to Plan B since it was released in June to make it more protective of public health.
NC Department of Health and Human Services  (NCDHHS) Secretary Mandy Cohen, MD, explained, "After looking at the current scientific evidence and weighing the risks and benefits, we have decided to move forward with today’s balanced, flexible approach which allows for in-person instruction as long as key safety requirements are in place in addition to remote learning options."
Cohen explained, "We will continue to follow the science and data and update recommendations as needed. We ask every North Carolinian to do their part to slow the spread of COVID-19 and follow the three W’s: Wear a face covering when in public, Wait 6 feet apart, Wash your hands."
Governor Cooper also announced that the state will provide at least five reusable face coverings for every student, teacher and school staff member in public schools. In June, the state provided packs of personal protective equipment to schools that included a two-month supply of thermometers, surgical masks, face shields • and gowns for school nurses and delegated staff who provide health care to students.
Eric Davis, Chairman of the State Board of Education explained, "Educators and stakeholders across our state have worked tirelessly to reopen our school buildings safely for our students, teachers and staff. Today, we take another critical step towards that goal. We also know families need to choose the option that is best for their children, so all school districts will provide remote learning options."
Dr. Theresa Flynn, M.D., M.P.H., FAAP, a practicing pediatrician who serves on the Board of Directors for the North Carolina Pediatric Society explained, "In-person education is important for children, and it happens in the context of a community. This plan strikes the right balance between health and safety and the benefits of having children learn in the classroom. We must all continue with proven measures to reduce COVID-19 transmission like wearing a face covering, keeping distance between people, and frequent hand and surface cleanings so we can move closer to safely re-opening public schools."
According to Governor Cooper's 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
More details can be found in the Strong Schools NC Public Health Toolkit. Read the Screening Reference Guide for schools and the Infection Control and PPE Guidance. All of those websites are available at
Governor Cooper also announced that North Carolina will remain paused in Safer At Home Phase 2 after the current Executive Order expires on Friday, July 17 for an additional three weeks.
He explained on Tuesday, "As we continue to see rising case numbers and hospitalizations, we will stay in Safer At Home Phase 2 for three more weeks," and , "Our re-opening priority is the school building doors, and in order for that to happen we have to work to stabilize our virus trends."
North Carolina Association of School Administrators Executive Director Katherine Joyce explained Tuesday, "While all school re-entry plans have their challenges during this pandemic, our superintendents, principals, and other school leaders will continue to prioritize student and staff safety in reopening schools under the cautious parameters outlined today by the Governor." and, "We look forward to continuing work with the Governor, the General Assembly, and other state leaders to ensure our schools have the support needed to get student learning back on track in the safest manner possible in each local district."
Brenda Stephens, President of the North Carolina School Board Association explained, "I recognize Governor Cooper faced a very difficult decision. The good news is that local school boards can now begin to officially put their school reopening plans in motion...While the current situation may not be ideal for all, I’m confident North Carolina’s educators will continue to provide students with the best education possible."
New Hanover County Schools will hold a press conference Wednesday, July 15th outside of the NHCS Central Office Building. Interim Superintendent Dr. Del Burns answers questions and provides an update regarding the 2020-2021 school year reopening plans. All of those in attendance will be required to practice social distancing and will need to have masks on at all times. The conference will be held Wednesday, July 15, 2020, at 10 AM at 6410 Carolina Beach Road/NHCS Central Office.


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