Pender County Schools holds emergency meeting and postpones Plan B opening

Pender County Schools changes opening plan

PENDER COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - At an emergency meeting held at 8 p.m. Friday August 14, Pender County Schools Superintendent Dr. Steven Hill recommended schools have a soft opening under Plan C for one day to transition into normal schooling.

This will apply to all Pender County Schools except Pender Early College High School and Heide Trask High School as Pender Early College High School has already returned to in person learning, and Heide Trask High School is under Plan C until Aug. 28.

The superintendent said PPE arrived late Friday for staff and teachers so the board would like staff members to get familiar with the new resources to be better prepared for students and need one more day in their classrooms without kids to prepare for in-person learning.

Staff is working through class changes after an additional 241 requests for online learning were received in the past 48 hours. Administrators are working to assign online students to their digital courses.

“I think most people realize that we’re in unprecedented waters here, but the parents have spoken and they overwhelmingly want to have in-person school, and as you know we’re one of only a handful of places that are doing it and we’ll just have to do the best we can,” said Hill when asked about the last-minute changes.

Schools will operate under Plan C until August 18 when they will revert to Plan B. Students in Cohort A who were supposed to begin Monday August 17 will start school online on Monday and will switch to in-person on Tuesday.

Heide Trask High School will operate under Plan C until it opens under Plan B August 28. The school has a total of 24 staff unavailable to teach in-person because of unfilled positions, approved leave and recent COVID-19 exposure.

According to the Health Department, Trask High School is unable to operate safely with that staff ratio.

“You know, you could be exposed at the grocery store, or you could go to a gathering of some sort off school time that could cause it, you know, we’ve got protocols in place, checking temperatures, that kind of thing, to try and combat what we can,” said Hill.

Staff from Heide Trask who may have been exposed to people with the coronavirus have been told to self-quarantine for 14 days as an extra precaution.

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