WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - The New Hanover County Board of Education voted 6-1 Tuesday night to allow students to return to the classroom in Plan B at the beginning of the second grading period.
Judy Justice cast the lone dissenting vote. She said she was, “extremely disappointed the health department was not there. Safety should be our first priority.”
During the meeting, it became apparent that some board members expected an update from a representative of the New Hanover County Health Department.
Recently hired Superintendent Dr. Charles Foust was not aware that board members were seeking an update from the Health Department as the subject had not been raised at the agenda briefing.
“I spoke with the Health Department and asked questions about safety, and let them know that I was going to recommend Plan B,” said Dr. Foust. “There wasn’t any push-back on that, so I felt highly confident with the recommendation, with the guidance under safety and from the Health Department.”
Plan B comprises a hybrid of in-class and remote teaching which was originally planned to follow a one week in-class, two weeks online schedule.
Board member Nelson Beaulieu said that it wasn’t an easy decision, but kids need to get back into the classroom.
“It’s extremely important to get these kids back into school,” said Beaulieu. “We always focus on the pandemic because we have to, because it’s immediate. With the long term impacts, we don’t have a ten-month problem in our school systems, we have a ten-year problem. It’s gonna take a long time to get these kids back to be where they need to be.”
Board member David Wortman said he had heard from many parents who would prefer an A/B model for Plan B where students would attend school for two days each week and do virtual school the other three days. Earlier in the meeting, he proposed a motion to return to Plan B following this model; his motion was rejected 6-1.
Plan B will begin October 6, which is the start of the second grading period, for traditional schools, pre-k schools and Isaac Bear Early College High School. Wilmington Early College High School and SEA-Tech will start Plan B on October 7. Year-round schools will make the transition on October 12.
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 students.
New Hanover County students opened the 2020-2020 school year on August 17 in plan C which is all remote learning.