COLUMBUS COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - As New Hanover County schools prepare to move to Plan A, bringing PreK-5th grade students back to the classroom full-time, one Columbus County principal offers advice to educators and parents.
Ronna Gore, principal at Old Dock Elementary School in Whiteville, stresses that schools should have a plan for how to keep every part of the day-to-day operations in an elementary school safe and sanitary.
“You need protocols for everything that you do here at the school,” said Gore. “Your car rider line, your bus rider lines — everything needs to have a protocol as far as what you’re going to do to maintain the safety of these children.”
Back in February, the New Hanover County Board of Education voted to have elementary school students move to Plan A beginning on March 8. This means that parents will have the option to send their children to learn in-person every day for the final nine weeks of the school year.
Gore says that once students and staff get used to the protocols, it will be easy for them to adjust to the new normal. She has seen this first hand from her students at Old Dock.
“It’s almost like a second nature now to them. They know what to do in keeping things sanitized and keeping things clean and just the general protocol and nature of trying to keep us, and each other, safe,” said Gore.
One of the biggest challenges Gore and the teachers at Old Dock faced was balancing their attention between students learning in the classroom and those learning virtually.
“It was very hard for our parents to see us teaching in this manner because they did not want for their kids to have to be at home,” said Gore. “But yet, they really didn’t want the kids, who were maybe a little bit scared, to come here.”
Another challenge her school faced while operating classes in a hybrid manner was bringing in substitute teachers.
“They are frightened,” Gore said. “They are scared of the virus. They are also not in here every day to see these procedures that we have in place.”
Overall, Gore says Old Dock has had a relatively low number of positive cases, but says schools should be prepared to have students and staff quarantine from home if they are exposed to COVID-19.