WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Parents and students in New Hanover County Elementary Schools planned on going back to class full time starting next week, and so did the school system’s operations staff.
But when the school board voted to change plans Wednesday and send students back on January 25 on a hybrid plan of in-person and remote learning, staff needed time to change the school setups. But, when the K-5 students do go in-person, full time, the transition will not be as difficult.
“We don’t hit the reset button,” said Eddie Anderson, head of operations for New Hanover County Schools. “When we change back to Plan B, the bus routes and the work that we’ve done for Plan A...we’re not going to delete it. It’s going to be there, and it makes that transition down the road...it certainly makes it easier.”
Configuring classrooms for bringing students back full time was one of the staff’s most challenging jobs.
“Obviously, we want to offer the maximum social distancing that we can,” said Anderson. “That will certainly look different from classroom to classroom from school to school. Those classroom spaces...sizes change, shapes change. The furniture that’s in there changes. And the number of students in each class will change.”
There are also different plans for getting students to and from school. Full-time, in-person learning means more bodies on the bus.
“We would load the bus in a specific manner, loading from the back of the bus to the front of the bus, one student at a time,” said Anderson. “Then we start that process over, two students at a time. We’ve developed routes to minimize the number of students on the bus.”
Anderson says when the school board decides to move elementary students to full time, staff will rely on plans already in place to get it done.