WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - School systems in Southeastern NC have tangled with how and when to start bringing students back to classrooms under plan B. Now, thousands of students could be headed back to the classroom full-time in a few weeks since Governor Cooper announced K-5 students can return under Plan A.
“The science also shows that in-person learning is so important for the development of all children, especially all children," said Dr. Mandy Cohen. "That’s why we’ve been so focused on getting children back into the classroom.”
After starting the school year with remote learning, the announcement that students K-5 will be able to fully return to the classroom is welcome news to Erica McDaniel who has a first and third grader at Topsail elementary.
“The first thing is, I’m shocked," said McDaniel. "I thought for sure we would spend the entire semester doing plan B if not plan C so it was a welcome surprise.”
McDaniel’s children have been operating under Plan B in Pender County schools for weeks now but she said even that has been a struggle sometimes when her children are home.
She said teaching from home as a working parent is tough and she knows they will retain more information learning in-person.
“They’re very motivated learners but when my 3rd grader was in first grade, he was there five days a week and my youngest doesn’t have that," said McDaniel. "And just in those pieces even, four weeks in right now, I’m already seeing the differences and I’m afraid if we wait too long those are going to become bigger and bigger and bigger gaps.”
State leaders say it’s the science that led them to this decision—a downward trend of positive cases. But Dr. Mandy Cohen still emphasizes the need to wear masks, social distance and properly sanitize to prevent the virus being taken home.
McDaniel says her kids' education is worth that risk.
“I think school is one of those areas where you have to weigh risk versus benefit and for my boys, who are 6 and 8 years old, who are at really pivotal years in learning," said McDaniel. "I think being at school for them is worth the risk for them compared to what scientists say are their specific risks.”
State leaders recognize that while this option is now open to every school district in the state, they also urge every district to make a decision based on the cases in their area.