NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — New Hanover County Schools announced it’s still planning for a Plan B transition in October, following Governor Roy Cooper’s announcement about the option for districts to send children in Pre-K through 5th grade back under Plan A.
School district leaders says Plan A options will be discussed, and a recommendation will be brought to the school board at its meeting on October 6.
Schools are set to transition to Plan B at the start of the second grading period, which is on October 6 for most student. However, school leaders say they are considering a shift to Plan A for Pre-K through 5th grade at some point.
Regardless, there will be some changes for students when they return to the classroom under Plan B.
“We can’t wait to have them back in the classroom, but it will be different,” Bradley Creek Elementary School second grade teacher Christine Sawyer said.
Things will look different from the classroom to the school bus. Eddie Anderson, the Assistant Superintendent of Operations, says they’ve had to make a lot of changes regarding transportation.
“Typical elementary school bus capacity is 72,” Anderson said. “Under the current Plan B, our bus capacity is 24 students. Our routes will be much, much shorter. We’re going to be doing fewer stops.”
Anderson says families need to make sure they’ve requested transportation for their child in their student portal. He says parents will also need to fill out an attestation form before their child can ride the bus.
From the bus to the classroom, students will be required to wear a mask. If students get in the bus without a mask, Anderson says they’ll be provided with one.
Once students get to school, he says everybody will be screened through a series of questions, and will get their temperature taken.
Students who ride the bus will be screened separately from students who are individually dropped off at school. Anderson says students who are dropped off will be screened from their car.
After being screened, he says students will be able to pick up their breakfast and take it the the classroom to eat. He says a similar process will happen at lunchtime.
”Lunches will be served to the classroom at the elementary level, and the students would eat in the classroom,” Anderson said. “In the secondary schools, students will come through the serving line, pick up their meals and return to the classroom.”
Anderson says the classrooms will probably look more different than anything else. Sawyer explained how she and other teachers have been getting their classrooms ready.
“Removing a lot of furniture that’s not needed so we can have desks six feet apart,” Sawyer said. “Giving them two desks so they have a little bit more space, but one thing we can do to make that safer is to keep it turned around so they won’t be putting anything inside the desk. We won’t use traditional hallway hooks and things like that.”
Sawyer says each student will have their own supplies to be kept at their desk. With these safety precautions, she says that means certain group activities or learning materials will be limited.
“Things like manipulatives that are necessary,” she said. “The ones that we’re going to get the most value out of, and then we can create individual groups of those for a student that will stay at their desk. Then we could clean those at the end of the day.”
Sawyer says parents can help prepare their students for this transition by explaining some of these changes, and practicing things like the 3 Ws.
“So, we want students to come in with a positive attitude and know that we’re keeping them safe, and that they’re going to have a lot of the same things they normally have, but something will be different,” she said.
On Thursday, the school district also announced its holding several virtual town hall meetings next week for families to ask questions about the transition to Plan B. The panel will include Superintendent Dr. Foust and staff from the Instruction, Student Services, Technology, Communications and Finance departments.
The meetings will be held on the following days and times:
- Tuesday, September 22 – Pre-K and elementary schools
- Wednesday, September 23 – LatinX families (partnered with UNCW Latino Alliance)
- Thursday, September 24 – Middle and high schools
Each town hall will run from 6:00 p.m.-7:30 p.m. with the option to extend 30 minutes. You can find more information on how to stream the meetings and submit questions here.