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.