NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — School districts across North Carolina have been tasked with creating three different plans for reopening in the fall of 2020, and New Hanover County is now giving details about their plans. They range from all students returning to school to virtual learning only.
One of the requirements from the state is that each school district develop a Plan A, a Plan B, and a Plan C.
Under Plan A, all students would return to schools with enhanced health protocols.
Plan B would limit school buildings to 50% capacity with increased requirements for social distancing.
Plan C moves all education to remote platforms.
“Obviously Plan C, where all students are taught remotely, we’ve got that,” said New Hanover County interim Superintendent Dr. Del Burns. We’ve done that for the last few months of the school year. Certainly we can improve on that.”
Burns says the district is currently focusing on Plan B and the challenges it presents.
“The logistics of getting students to school with limited numbers on buses, having 50 percent occupancy or less in the buildings,” Burns said. “Handling screenings, taking temperatures.”
Guiding each district is a 23-page document from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services and a 134-page document from the Department of Public Instruction.
“The DPI document is a lot of good information, a lot of good suggestions, food for thought if you will, but it doesn’t put together a plan and how to execute it,” Burns said.
Dr. Burns says New Hanover County Schools has formed five employee work groups to cover everything from teaching and learning to transportation and child nutrition services.
“They’re looking at big questions such as who goes to school when, how, for how long,” Burns said. “How do we feed students who are in the building if we have to socially distance? How do we feed students who are not in the building?”
And, of course, finances are a consideration as well.
“We’re going to have to spend money to implement the plans,” he said. “We are costing them, looking at budgets to see where we can find available funds.”
Governor Roy Cooper has the final say, and is expected to make a decision Wednesday about what plan schools will go with in the fall. Dr. Burns says plans for extra curricular activities will depend on that decision.
Burns also says if the governor selects plans A or B, NHCS plans to accommodate those who are not yet comfortable with returning to in-school learning.