New Hanover County middle and high schoolers move to Plan A

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NEW HANOVER COUNTY (WWAY) — Monday, thousands of students across the Cape Fear returned to class for full-time, in-person instruction.

And as New Hanover County middle and high school students embarked on their “third” first day of class, 6th grader Zay Ray looked forward to science.

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“Yeah it’s a lot of fun,” said Ray, “because when we do experiments, we don’t get to actually be there and see it. So I like in class learning, because you can pay attention, but when you’re at home you can get distracted.”

Failure rates across the area rose during online learning, partially for this reason. That’s why many teachers, like computer science instructor Michael Mitchell looked forward to Monday as well.

“So it’s always hard to teach them at home, especially for computer science,” Mitchell explained. “Because that’s more of a hands on content area.”

Teachers screened kids for COVID-19 symptoms as they climbed out of the bus or a car and headed to the classroom.

“I was excited because I haven’t been here in a while,” admitted Ray. “And I’m waiting to see my classroom and all my classmates.”

Some students haven’t connected with teachers in person for over a year. Mark Wade, a 7th grade science teacher said it’s an aspect of education he’s sorely missed.

“What I’ve always done is shaken hands,” explained Wade. “I can’t do that now, But I can check in with each and every child as they come into that classroom and just see where they are.”

Monday’s change happened with about six-to-eight weeks left in the semester. Superintendent Charles Foust said it was still worth it to bring the kids back for in-person learning.

“This is a safe time,” Foust said. “And the goal has always been to be able to get students back into school. It was never an expectation to keep students outside of the school and not move back in.”

And with three feet of social distancing measures in place, morning screenings, and masks, many teachers like Mitchell were happy to see their students take their seats Monday morning.

“I feel great about the children coming back. There’s no reason for us to be here if we don’t have any children to build up.”