Special to Iredell Free News

Gov. Roy Cooper’s remarks on Wednesday regarding the reopening of schools has created quite a buzz across all 100 counties in North Carolina.

If the legislation moves quickly through the N.C. Senate as expected, the N.C. House could take action as soon as Thursday.

Public schools in North Carolina continue to follow the Strong Schools NC Public Health Toolkit, provided by the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS), which was updated on March 4. The toolkit continues to drive protocol as it relates to getting students back to school safely.

If it passes the Senate and House and is signed by Cooper, Senate Bill 220 would allow for students in all grades to return to Plan A in the coming weeks.

Iredell-Statesville Schools is operating in Plan A for students in grades K-5 and Plan B for students in grades 6-12. The district has worked to ensure that every building in grades 6-12 is operating at the maximum student capacity while following social distancing guidelines outlined by the NCDHHS.

While school administrators have continued to work to build student capacity at each school, it has been necessary to maintain six feet of social distancing; thus, attendance is based on the specific capacity on each campus.

Jeff James

“Iredell Statesville Schools has been at the forefront of getting students back to school face-to-face,” Superintendent Jeff James said. “If the governor and NCDHHS tell us we can return to school five days a week for grades 6-12, we’ll do that as safely and quickly as we can. We’ve been waiting and planning for this announcement. Kids belong in school.”

I-SS is on spring break this week, but early next week administrators will release specific plans for a return to school. The district has been working with the ABC Science Collaborative since the summer of 2020. Officials will continue to collect data and revisit safety protocols so that students can return face-to-face.

District officials are poised and ready to submit their reopening plan to NCDHHS.

I-SS employees who choose to receive a vaccination have already received their first shot. Over 1,200 employees will receive their second shot on March 24, 2021.

“In addition to a return to school in grades K-12, we will also be rolling out specific information about face-to-face graduation ceremonies,” James said. “Finally, we are hopeful that NCDHHS will make changes that allow us to have prom. While it may not be a traditional prom, it is important that we get back to the business of creating academic and social opportunities and events for students.”

I-SS updates its weekly COVID dashboard every Friday at 5 p.m.. Last week, I-SS recorded its lowest numbers in months, with less than 1 percent of staff and students having been diagnosed with COVID.

Of the individuals who tested positive last week, none of the cases was the result of secondary spread within the schools.

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For more information, visit www.issnc.org/coronavirus.

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