NEW HANOVER COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - At Tuesday night’s New Hanover County School Board meeting, officials answered questions that many parents have been asking about how to keep their children safe.
Superintendent Dr. Charles Foust said that for the time being, full-time, in-person learning under Plan A for K-5 students is off the table—at least until they see what happens with Plan B, how schools manage, and if it remains safe.
Then, he says, Plan A might be considered.
However, when students return to classrooms on Monday, everyone will be required to wear masks. There will also be signs and floor markings for social distancing and directions for students to follow.
School leaders said there will be plenty off PPE like masks, gloves and cleaning gear provided to teachers upon request.
Regarding buses, there will be a maximum of 24 students on a bus, one person to a seat, meaning bus drivers will make multiple shorter trips
The assistant superintendent for operations says schools will reflect our new way of living.
“Hand sanitizer in the classrooms, on the stands in the hallways, PPE that’s made available for staff, everybody wearing their face mask," said Eddie Anderson. "I think it will be a lot like...unfortunately what people are starting to grow accustomed to, but turned up a notch, in New Hanover County Buildings.”
But those talks were the reason why a group of parents and teachers protested that option before and during the meeting. Elizabeth Budd is a second grade teacher at Murrayville Elementary School and says Plan A might not be so bad, but only after having time to fully prepare and work on trial and error during Plan B.
“We want to be there and be with the people around us but we have to stop considering ourselves," said Budd. "We have to consider our students, we have to consider health and safety and so, right now, everyone is putting that first and making it a priority. And, once we make it a priority and make plans around that priority, then we can start making plans about going back to school.”
Another group of parents created an online petition objecting to the Middle School transition to a regular six-class block schedule when schools return, a move that will involve more changes for both students and staff and more class changes requiring additional sanitization of rooms. In just three days, a petition received over 700 signatures, something the board didn’t even consider.
On Monday, students in the county will be going back to classrooms under Plan B on an “AA/BB alternating schedule”.
School officials believe they are more than prepared to handle the new normal of school.