Interim meeting agenda suggests New Hanover County Schools may be switched to Plan C

UPDATE: Additional information provided by NHCS regarding Virtual Academies

Interim meeting agenda suggests New Hanover County Schools may be switched to Plan C
New Hanover County Board of Education announced an interim meeting to be held Tuesday, July 28; the posted agenda indicated a possible change to Plan C—virtual learning—for the first nine weeks. (Source: WAVE 3 News)

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - New Hanover County Board of Education announced an interim meeting is to be held Tuesday, July 28; the posted agenda indicated a possible change to Plan C—virtual learning—for the first nine weeks.

In the agenda, the recommendation for action by Interim Superintendent Del Burns stated, “Based upon concerns for the health and safety of students and staff, the Interim Superintendent recommends that New Hanover County Schools (NHCS) open and operate under Plan C through the first grading period of the 2020-2021 school year.”

WECT reached out to Board of Education member Nelson Beaulieu for a comment on the possible change of plan.

“Dr Burns and Senior staff did an amazing job in planning for pathway B. Unfortunately it became clear that there were significant barriers to implementing that pathway and so I will 100 percent support the recommendation of Dr. Burns and our senior staff. Nothing is more important than the health and safety of our students and faculty. Nothing,” said Beaulieu.

Board member David Wortman is in favor of opening schools at least partially, but said he’ll hear Dr. Burns’ presentation on Tuesday.

“I think its important to give parents a choice as to whether they send their children to school or not to sent their children to school. That’s kind of where I’ve been the whole time and as we’ve progressed to where we are today I think that’s even more important,” Wortman said.  “I believe that we as a board should listen to our community. We had a survey that went out and there are a lot of people who want to send their kids back to school.” 

The virtual meeting is scheduled to take place at 5:30 p.m. There will be no call to the audience or opportunity for public input at the meeting.

In practice with safe social distancing guidelines recommended by the CDC, attendance at all meetings of the NHCS BOE is currently strictly limited to no more than 10 people.

Previously, on July 15, NHCS announced plans to begin the school year on a hybrid schedule.

New Hanover County Schools Virtual Academies

In additions to this, a further update was released from New Hanover County Schools regarding Virtual Academies:

The district has heard your questions and concerns regarding the need for additional information regarding Virtual Academies and hopes to provide clarification on the Virtual Academies offered through your child’s current school.

Available on the districts 2020-2021 School Opening website we have added a Frequently Asked Questions document. The FAQ can be found here for Virtual Academy instruction. As more questions come in we will add them to this page. In addition, the district will have a general FAQ up soon.

See below for the main talking points of the 2020-2021 school year opening update from Tuesday night’s meeting agenda.

Subject

2020-2021 School Year Opening Update

Department and/or Board Staff Liaison

Del Burns, Interim Superintendent

Main Points

School districts in North Carolina are directed by Governor Cooper to open for the 2020-2021 school year following Plan B, which includes social distancing requirements, and also requires screening and other health and safety protocols to be followed. Districts may elect to open following Plan C, which is more restrictive, and is based exclusively on remote learning for students.

Plan B for New Hanover County Schools, approved on July 10, 2020, is as follows:

All Pre-K-12 students will attend face-to-face instruction on an alternating three-week schedule. Students will be assigned to groups (1, 2 or 3). Siblings will be in the same groups. Groups will attend school in an ongoing rotation by attending school in person for one week and receiving online instruction for two weeks. The district recognizes there are some students with global delays who, by the nature of their disabling condition, have not demonstrated the capacity to gain meaning from remote learning models. For these students, expanded in-person services may be offered. English learners (newcomers) in their first 2 years of instruction will attend daily. A full K-12 school-based virtual academy through the student's home school will be provided for families who selected home learning for their student.

Workgroups have been established and given the charge to identify and develop processes, procedures, and implementation timelines for Plan B as approved. Teaching and Learning, Operations, Health, Communications, and Finance workgroups are working to support schools in plans for opening, as well as to address central functions such as transportation. Principals and school-based teams are working to address staffing, scheduling, screening and other logistical requirements from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services and the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction.

Updates from each of the workgroups, including an update from New Hanover County Public Health Officials will be provided to the Board, to include progress and barriers to opening under Plan B.

Fiscal Implications

To Be Determined

Recommendation for Action/Next Steps

Based upon concerns for the health and safety of students and staff, the Interim Superintendent recommends that New Hanover County Schools open and operate under Plan C through the first grading period of the 2020-2021 school year.

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