Special to Iredell Free News

RALEIGH — The State Board of Education approved the N.C. Department of Public Instruction’s Lighting Our Way Forward: North Carolina’s Guidebook for Reopening Public Schools and a summary with navigation links to the full document.

The operational strategies were developed by the N.C. Department of Public Instruction, in conjunction with the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, teachers, support staff, local education leaders, and others, to assist the state’s public schools and communities as they develop reopening plans for the 2020-21 school year.

The guidance covers a wide range of issues and concerns that schools statewide face with reopening, from school nutrition and transportation to instructional approaches, student social-emotional learning and employee coping and resilience.

State Superintendent Mark Johnson emphasized that the guidance document will continue to evolve with updated information and additional recommendations, including ideas and suggestions from schools and districts.

“This is a living document,” Johnson said. “It’s not set in stone. Our goal is to provide a roadmap that supports reopening schools to make this enormous task less difficult for our districts, schools and communities.

“We are excited to move forward in the expectation that we will start the upcoming school year with students back in school buildings,” Johnson said. “COVID-19 will present unique challenges as we welcome back students, staff and families.”

Board Chairman Eric Davis praised DPI’s leadership and staff for the guidance document.

“You have captured the can-do spirit of North Carolina,” Davis said. “This is a true guiding light showing the way forward for North Carolina’s students.”

The DPI guidance will help local districts comply with the health-related recommendations and requirements from NCDHHS announced Monday by Gov. Roy Cooper

Under the NCDHHS recommendations and requirements, one of three reopening plans will be put in place:
♦ Plan A: Minimal Social Distancing
♦ Plan B: Moderate Social Distancing
♦ Plan C: Remote Learning Only

The governor, in consultation with the DHHS, DPI and the State Board, will decide by July 1 which plan districts and schools are to begin the school year, though they can also opt to use a more restrictive plan.

The DPI guidance document covers key considerations for each of the three plans, including school facilities and students, health precautions, teaching and learning approaches and scheduling options.
Plan B for moderate social distancing – requiring that only 50% of students be physically present at any given time – involves numerous possible options for both scheduling and learning approaches.

3 thoughts on “State Board of Education approves operational strategies to help public schools reopen for 2020-21

  1. ARLENE M HAYES says:

    Have you considered how parents will deal with these plans if they require childcare in order for them to work? With 50% of students present in schools, there has to be someone to care for the other half of our children.

    • Ross Warren says:

      If they send the kids to stay with grandma on their “off” days, that might be a death sentence for her if they expose her to Covid-19. Unfortunately, I can guarantee you that is the scenario many families will be facing.

  2. Ross Warren says:

    They had better get with it. Time is wasting. They need to nail down concrete plans, think them through regarding the logistics, and implement them. Leaving stuff up in the air with a “living document” will not be conducive to that. People need to know how we are going to proceed so they can adjust and make plans for themselves and their children.

    One issue is child care if they implement any moderate social distancing where parents have to scramble to find child care half the time and/or worry about their child falling behind on the days they are not in school. Not all kids (or parents) are self-motivated in learning without the guidance of a skilled teacher.

    Will this forever be a generation that will always be educationally stunted, requiring even more remedial classes prior to entering the work force or going to college?

    There simply are no “good” solutions until we have a safe, proven vaccine for Covid-19.

    I sure don’t envy the teachers, the students, or their parents having to deal with this mess.

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