New Hanover school board votes to transition to Plan B

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — New Hanover County Schools has working toward bringing students back into classrooms, and on Tuesday night the Board of Education took a major step toward reopening.

The board voted 6-1 to transition into Plan B learning to begin the second grading period on October 6.

Under the current guidelines for hybrid Plan B learning, students will be separated in three groups and will attend face-to-face instruction on an alternating three week schedule. Each group will spend one week in school buildings, and then two weeks remote.

All students will be required to wear masks and be screened before entering the bus and school buildings.

Board chair Stefanie Adams, vice-chair David Wortman, and members Lisa Estep, Jeannette Nichols, Bill Rivenbark, and Nelson Beaulieu all voted in favor of the plan.

“This was a big night, it’s important to get them back,” Beaulieu said. “I pray for everybody’s safety.”

Judy Justice was the only board member to vote against the plan, citing safety concerns. She believes the county health department should have been present at the meeting to provide guidance.

“For me, I can’t make a decision without talking to the experts myself, and letting the public hear, let them hear what they have to say to all of us,” Justice said.

Superintendent Dr. Charles Foust responded to these concerns.

“I spoke with the health department and asked questions about safety and let them know that I was going to be recommending Plan B, and there wasn’t any pushback on that,” he said.

Based on parent feedback, vice-chair David Wortman made a motion for a different scenario, similar to what Brunswick County Schools is implementing. The A-B plan would split students into two groups, with one group in school Monday and Tuesday, the other group in school Thursday and Friday. Wednesday would be a remote-only cleaning day.

While this motion failed, Dr. Foust says they do plan to explore this idea.

“It will take some time and moreso with transportation and how that works, and routing schedules, the things that individuals don’t actually think about what happens,” Foust said. “So we will actually be looking at that and talking about that this week.”

When the district transitions into Plan B, families will still have the option to keep their students learning remotely. There are different scenarios for how that will be implemented for elementary, middle, and high schools, and that will be left up to each individual school.

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