New Board of Education approves Plan A for elementary schools in New Hanover County

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NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — The New Hanover County Board of Education has officially voted to move elementary schools in the county to Plan A full-time in-person learning, with a caveat.

Just before 11:00 p.m. Tuesday night, the board voted in favor of a proposal presented by Superintendent Dr. Charles Foust.

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Currently all public schools in New Hanover County are under Plan B, a hybrid of in-person and remote learning.

Starting January 11, elementary school students will have the option to return to school five days a week.

Parents not comfortable with this plan will have the option to keep their students remote. Those students might not be able to retain their same teachers.

True social distancing may not be possible under Plan A, when students are riding buses or are in spaces not big enough to be six feet apart. In these cases, the New Hanover County Health Department is recommending students be at least three feet apart.

The decision came after hours of presentations on COVID-19-related data including current failure rates at elementary schools.

Presented with this information, board member Judy Justice made a motion to delay the vote by two days to allow for more consideration and discussion. Newly elected member Stephanie Walker seconded that motion, and shared concerns that she was not presented with enough information before the meeting.

Dr. Foust shared concerns that if a decision was not reached Tuesday night, school staff might not have enough time to work out logistics by January 11.

The motion to delay the vote failed.

Nelson Beaulieu, who was named vice-chair earlier in the meeting, suggested moving forward with the proposal to transition to Plan A with the caveat that the board would hear an update from Dr. Foust at a later date and take another vote to reaffirm the decision.

If at this time Dr. Foust shared the district was experiencing pushback from school staff or the community, the board would have the opportunity to reverse the decision.

There will also be some changes for middle and high schools. Families will not be able to switch back and forth between the hybrid plan and being fully remote. They must make a decision at the beginning of the grading period and stick with that choice for nine weeks.

Dr. Foust says this is to ensure that proper attendance is being taken.

You can view the full meeting here.

You can view the details of the plan here.