New Hanover schools to use three-week rotation to get students back in class

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — New Hanover County Schools has released their plans to get kids back into the classroom this fall.

On Tuesday, Gov. Roy Cooper revealed that North Carolina public schools will be open for both in-person and remote learning in the upcoming 2020-2021 school year.

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During a news conference Wednesday, Interim Superintendent Del Burns says Pre-K through 12th grade students will attend school on an rotating three-week schedule.

Under Plan B in New Hanover County Schools:

  • All Pre-K-12 students will attend face to face instruction on an alternating three-week schedule.

  • Students will be assigned to groups (1, 2 or 3). Siblings will be in the same groups. Groups will attend school in an ongoing rotation by attending school in person for one week and receiving online instruction for two weeks.

  • The district recognizes that there are some special education students for whom remote learning provides additional challenges. For those students, services will continue to be provided daily in the school building.

  • Additionally, English learners in year 2 or less will attend daily.

  • A full K-12 virtual school option will be provided for families who selected home learning for their student.

The district says each person who enters any of the schools will be required to undergo a health screening.

“There is no great plan under Plan B,” Burns said. “It will likely look different. Very different than it did back in February. Students may have multiple teachers. One for face-to-face. One or two for remote.”

Burns says they’re still trying to figure out what comes next. He says this plan is the most prudent, and will give the district a chance to figure out what works and what needs to be adjusted.

“Patience,” Burns said. “We will have to work through many, many questions for which we do not have answers yet.”

In the coming days, the district is sending out another survey to families with questions regarding WiFi connectivity and childcare needs.

“We’ve ordered additional WiFi hot spots, and the deployment of those is going to be very strategic,” Burns said. “The deployment of devices again, will focus on the students who do not have resources in their homes.”

Burns says they deployed hot spots and around 5,000 devices to students in the spring, and says the survey will help them try to fill in any gaps.

He adds, the district has purchased around 30,000 reusable cloth face coverings, 500 thermometers and gloves. According to Gov. Cooper, the state will provide five face coverings for each student.

At a news conference Wednesday morning, Burns also explained bus routes will look different this fall.

“We’re going to have to have greater distances between stops,” he said. “Obviously trying to get students to school on time is a concern. We’re going to aim for a single run. We’re not going to want to have multiple runs to get the students in. With the Governor requiring every student to wear a face mask, we can have one child per seat, unless it’s a family member. In that case, there be more children in the seat.”

Burns says students will be screened through a series of questions before getting on the bus. He also says there will be a screening sheet for parents to fill out.

When schools closed in the spring, the district started delivering meals and offering meal pickup. Burns says meal pickup will still be available during the remote learning weeks, however buses will not be available for meal drop-off.

There has been a growing concern from working parents especially, about child care for the remote learning weeks.

“If they utilize childcare, to identify which organization they’re working with, and we’ll be using that information to determine how we might be able to partner,” Burns said.

He reminds people that this plan is fluid and subject to change.

“Conditions are likely to change,” he said. “There may be changes between now and the time that school opens.”

Along with the survey coming out, the district will be sending out a back-to-school guide for families.