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Educators call for greater distancing before reopening of elementary schools

Updated: Dec. 31, 2020 at 3:55 PM EST
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - The New Hanover County Association of Educators is calling for greater social distancing and other measures to ensure safety before the district reopens elementary schools for full time in person instruction Jan. 19.

During a press conference on New Year’s Eve, President Amanda White said, “we are at the height of a pandemic and we understand everybody wants children back in schools. We want children back in schools as well.”

The group is calling for the district to reassess all available school space to spread students out and ensure 6 feet of social distancing is possible for faculty, staff and students.

“With transparency comes accountability and with accountability will come improvements to make sure we are doing the best we can to make sure our schools are safe during a pandemic,” said teacher Allison Lashford.

The district also is asking the board for greater transparency and reporting of COVID-19 cases among schools.

“The public, parents, educators, students, they deserve to know where, when and how many were infected inside of their school buildings,” said North Carolina Association of Educators President Tamika Walker Kelly.

White believes this information can be shared with more detail without compromising individuals’ HIPPA rights.

Finally, for as long as some students are working remotely, the association believes teachers need one day per week to be a virtual learning day to allow for planning time to accommodate all students and they would like to form an advisory committee of teachers to work on creative problem solving amidst the pandemic with the board.

“We just want to be part of that conversation,” said Elizabeth Budd. “Educators have ideas to make a safe reopen happen. We want to reopen our public schools as soon as we can safely and with full transparency.”

The Board of Education meets on Jan. 5.

The agenda includes an update on COVID-19 from public health officials but it’s unclear whether they’ll respond to the association’s requests.

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