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Parents urge New Hanover Co. school board to reconsider moving to Plan A next week

Updated: Jan. 12, 2021 at 1:42 PM EST
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - New Hanover County’s Board of Education is meeting Wednesday, Jan. 13 to discuss its plan on how to move elementary students back to Plan A starting Monday, Jan. 19.

Some local parents are saying, “Whoa, not so fast.”

In a Zoom meeting with local journalists, a handful of parents voiced their concerns about the effort to transition young students back into the classroom.

Just like some members of the New Hanover County Association of Educators (NHCAE), they’re calling on the board to ensure six feet social distancing is in place, along with full transparency of infections inside the schools, once they’re back in session.

“I know it’s difficult for a school board that traditionally has had issues with transparency,” said Sandy Eyles, a mother of a third grader at Mary C. Williams Elementary School. “I just don’t understand. The board through November was all about following the metrics and then something changed. As a parent, I need confidence that Plan A is safe.

“You know our state health departments have said “the three W’s” are important and I need to understand why the district is willing to dismiss one of them, which is social distancing.”

North Carolina continues to trend in the wrong direction when it comes to COVID-19 infection numbers, reaching all-time highs in the past week. As of Monday morning, Jan. 11, there were more than 3,800 patients in the hospital battling coronavirus.

“It just doesn’t make sense to bring them back right now,” said Elizabeth Bunting, who has two elementary school students who are currently enrolled as remote students. “We are putting everyone back together without social distancing at a time when transmission is at its absolute worst. And we’re putting our most valuable people, the people who educate our future, and our future themselves, quite frankly, at risk for their lives.”

“We have to think of the safety not only of these kids, but their teachers,” said Chermia Miller, who is the mom of two students. “So when we take this implementation into consideration, we have to think of the kids as well as the educators who are in front of their kids. We have to think of them, and their families, as well.”

Parents hope that Wednesday’s board meeting will address their concerns, but they say they won’t be surprised if there are still unanswered questions.

COVID continues to plague all of North Carolina. The Durham City school district is the first in the state to commit to remote learning for the rest of the school year as coronavirus cases surge.

“I don’t think what’s happening there is of real concern, here,“ said Eyles. “Our mission is the safety of our students. “Does (Durham’s decision) help us in New Hanover County? I don’t think it does, because, unfortunately, I feel the decision making has been so political and we’re seeing decisions based on the politics of the school board.”

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