NEW HANOVER COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - Governor Roy Cooper’s announcement Tuesday answered the biggest question school leaders had: their buildings WILL re-open this fall.
According to Cooper’s announcement, Plan B will incorporate both in-person and remote learning, based on student and parent preference.
“Somewhat relieved today when the governor said we would be able to have a somewhat remote learning situation for those folks,” said Ellen Milligan, Brunswick County School Board Chairman. “Because I believe we owe it to the folks we serve to offer them the very best learning possible in any situation,” she added.
Schools are likely to look much like stores and other businesses do right now. Students and teachers will be required to wear masks. Social distancing will be mandatory in classrooms and hallways.
In Brunswick County schools, other safety options are under consideration like Plexiglas on school tables. But even with all the precautions, Milligan says it could get more personal than that.
“We also have to look at every child having his or her own materials,” said Milligan. “In the past, if someone had a crayon break or you were short a Chromebook then two could share. But we won’t be able to do that, so that’s going to be a big change into how classrooms could look.”
Parent Shaun Appler, is also glad in-person learning will be an option. Appler says he wants his New Hanover County high schooler to be safe, but he also wants his son to experience high school like a teenager is supposed to—playing sports, running to class after the bell rings and actually seeing his friends in person.
”I think that’s the big thing is...kids are missing out on high school or their middle school experience,” said Appler. “The socialization with other kids is so important and we kind of forget about that when we get lost in the science and what this disease could do—especially if they’re at a lower risk—they kind of need that other stuff.”
Appler says he’s already gone through the do’s and don’ts of cleanliness with his son and he expects other parents to do the same with their children going back to in-person classes.
He hopes if teachers and students do what they are supposed to do, there won’t be another scare of shutting down the schools again.
”I don’t want to rely on the school system to take care of them; they’ve got to know how to be sanitary themselves,” said Appler. “Wash your hands, don’t touch your face, if you’re not wearing a mask, then wear a mask. Do the things you’re supposed to do so we can all get back to doing what we’re supposed to be doing.”
There are some questions that still need to be answered—how exactly will the schools re-open in Brunswick and New Hanover counties? What if a teacher does not feel comfortable returning?
Those are issues the schools boards still have to address. Survey results with feedback from parents and teachers could play a role in the final decisions.