Brunswick County families call for in-person learning, school board keeps existing plan

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BOLIVIA, NC (WWAY) — Families met outside the rescheduled Brunswick County Board of Education meeting on Monday, holding signs and calling for students to return to classrooms when school starts next week.

The current plan is to do remote learning only for four and a half weeks before moving to a hybrid of in-person and remote learning. Under the hybrid plan, students would be separated into A and B groups. Group A would attend in-person Monday and Tuesday, and remotely Wednesday through Friday. Group B would learn remotely Monday through Wednesday, and attend in-person Thursday and Friday. Both groups would be remote only on Wednesdays to allow for extra cleaning.

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Many families aren’t happy with this, and started a Facebook group with the goal of safely reopening schools. They have concerns about remote learning, ranging from childcare costs to quality of education, and students missing out on extra-curricular activities and socialization.

Parent Tara Beighle says remote learning in the spring had a negative impact on her children’s mental well-being.

“They both were very active children that loved to go outside and loved to be around their friends and loved to go all the time. And now, it’s like they don’t want to be around people, they don’t want to socialize,” she said.

South Brunswick high school senior LaJuan Daniels, a football player and track athlete, spoke before the board with concerns about sports.

“It is the last chance for most juniors and seniors to show what they got on the field,” Daniels said.

Some, including students, believe the number of COVID-19 cases in Brunswick County does not warrant this delay and say it’s time for students to go back.

“We’d really like to go back to school and be able to hang out with our friends and be able to experience high school, rather than online looking through a screen because it’s not the same,” said West Brunswick High School Sophomore Macie Coley.

Some worry the four and a half remote-only period could be extended.

“I don’t want this to turn into nine weeks, I don’t want this to turn into a semester of remote learning,” said parent Stephanie Hall. “The majority of our children don’t effectively learn through remote learning.”

Superintendent Dr. Jerry Oates says remote learning will be much in the fall than it was in the spring. He says they’ve listened to feedback from families and made adjustments accordingly.

Oates also says unless new restrictions come down from the state, Brunswick County Schools will move forward with the hybrid learning plan after no sooner than four and a half weeks.

“I understand their plight,” Oates said. “As some of the principals said tonight, we definitely want to get our students back into the schools as soon as we can, but we have to keep in mind we need to do that safely.”

Click here to read the agenda from Monday night’s meeting and learn more about reopening plans.

Click here to re-watch a live stream of the meeting.

Editors Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly attributed a statement to parent Monika Satterwhite. She was interviewed for a previous story and not this one.