New Hanover school board delays transition to 100% in-person learning for elementary students

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NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — The New Hanover County Board of Education held a special meeting Wednesday to consider updates about COVID-19 and the school year.

The board voted to extend remote learning for another two weeks for elementary students, then return to school under Plan B, which is a mix of hybrid and in-person learning, on Jan. 25.

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The move comes after elementary students were set to transition into Plan A, 100% in-person learning, next Tuesday.

Prior to the vote, the ABC Collaborative presented first. According to their studies, schools do not appear to be major spreaders of COVID-19. However, many schools have been in hybrid learning models.

Assistant Superintendent of Student Support Julie Varnam shared data from New Hanover County Schools during Plan B. She says 417 people had to be quarantined, there were 271 positive cases, and only 6 of those positive cases were spread through secondary transmission, meaning spread inside the schools.

According to the data gathered during Plan B, the transmission rate at the elementary school level is .2 percent, middle school is .2 percent and high school is .5 percent.

New Hanover County Association of Educators President Amanda White released the following statement:

“Everyone wants to get our students back into classrooms for in-person instruction as soon as we can reopen our schools safely for all – students, educators and staff. Unfortunately, we are in the worst days of a pandemic which has killed ten educators across North Carolina. In just the last month, New Hanover County’s COVID Alert Level has quickly worsened from yellow, to orange, to red. COVID-positive test results have skyrocketed to 12% in New Hanover County, and 100 county residents have died from the virus. New Hanover County’s school board made a prudent decision to delay a full reopen to allow time for educators and staff to be vaccinated. Members of the New Hanover County Association of Educators look forward to getting back to full-time in-person instruction when we can reopen safely. We are clearly not there yet, but hopefully that time will come very soon.”

WWAY Sydney Bouchelle was at the meeting and will have the latest tonight on WWAY News starting at 5 p.m.