Gov. Cooper: Schools will reopen with Plan B but Plan C still an option; Phase 2 will remain in place for three more weeks

Gov. Cooper: Schools will reopen with Plan B but Plan C still an option; Phase 2 will remain in place for three more weeks
Updated: Jul. 14, 2020 at 3:56 PM EDT
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RALEIGH, N.C. (WECT) - Public schools will reopen next month for both in-person and remote instruction, Gov. Roy Cooper said Tuesday.

Cooper also said when the current executive order expires on Friday, the state will continue in Phase 2 of reopening for three more weeks.

“Today, we announce that North Carolina schools will open for both in-person and remote learning with key safety precautions to protect the health of our students, teachers, staff and families. This is the Plan B that we asked schools to prepare,” Cooper said. “It’s a measured approach that will allow children to attend but provide important safety protocols like fewer children in the classroom, social distancing, face coverings, cleaning and more.

“As a part of this plan, we want local school districts to provide a remote learning option for any child who chooses it. In addition, school districts will have the option of Plan C – all remote learning – if that’s best for them.”

Cooper said Plan 2 will involve the following:

Under Plan B, the following safety measures will be in place:

  • Requiring face coverings for all teachers and students K-12
  • Limiting the total number of students, staff and visitors within a school building to the extent necessary to ensure six feet distance can be maintained when students/staff will be stationary
  • Conducting symptom screening, including temperature checks
  • Establishing a process and dedicated space for people who are ill to isolate and have transportation plans for ill students
  • Cleaning and disinfecting high-touch surfaces in the school and transportation vehicles regularly
  • Requiring frequent hand washing throughout the school day and providing hand sanitizer at entrances and in every classroom
  • Discontinuing activities that bring together large groups
  • Limiting nonessential visitors and activities involving external groups
  • Discontinuing use of self-service food or beverage distribution

State health officials also are recommending the following safety measures:

  • Designating hallways and entrance/exit doors as one-way
  • Keeping students and teachers in small groups that stay together as much as possible
  • Having meals delivered to the classroom or have students bring food back to the classroom if social distancing is not possible in the cafeteria
  • Discontinuing activities that bring together large groups
  • Placing physical barriers such as plexiglass at reception desks and similar areas

“Plan B is a baseline for our state. However, as I said earlier, districts can choose plan C – which requires all remote learning – if they determine that is best for those children, parents and teachers in that area,” Cooper said. ”The start of school is a month away for most of our children and we know a lot can happen with the virus during that time. If trends spike and in-person school cannot be done safely with these safety protocols, then we will need to move to all remote learning like we did in March.”

Under Plan C, schools would be completely closed to staff and students.

Cooper said that when the current executive order expires on Friday, the state will remain paused in Phase 2 for three more weeks.

“Our virus trends are not spiking like some other states. We have hospital capacity and our percent positive is still high but it’s steady. However, our numbers are still troubling and they could jump higher in the blink of an eye,” Cooper said. “Easing restrictions now to allow more high-transmission activities could cause a spike that would threaten our ability to open schools. The most important opening is that of our classroom doors.

“We want to be done with this pandemic, but it’s not done with us. We’ll continue toward the school year & work together with everyone’s safety in mind. The easiest and most effective way we can ensure our children go to school in August and ease economic restrictions: wear a mask.”

HAPPENING NOW: Gov. Cooper is expected to announce his decision regarding school reopenings.

Posted by WECT News on Tuesday, July 14, 2020

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