Nov 1, 2020 - COVID

Elementary schools start in-person classes today. Here’s what to expect

CMS school bus

CMS school bus

K-5 schedule: Each of the district’s elementary schools has been split into two groups on rotating schedules. The first group will attend in-person classes on Mondays and Tuesdays. The second group will attend in-person classes on Thursdays and Fridays. All students will learn virtually on Wednesdays.

This story was last updated on November 20.

Today, for the first time in seven months, CMS’ K-5 students will get a break from all virtual learning.

On October 1, the CMS Board of Education modified the in-person learning plan for elementary school students to give them more time in the classroom. This decision came after Governor Cooper announced elementary schools could move from Plan B, a mix of in person and virtual learning, to Plan A, moderate social distancing.

Although the number of Covid-19 cases is back on the rise, Mecklenburg County public health director Gibbie Harris says she believes it’s still safe for students to return.

“We believe that the school system should move forward as they are planning to on Monday with K through 5,” Harris said during a Friday press conference. “We know that that age group, 10 and under, is less likely to spread virus.”

She also emphasized the importance of students and teachers being Covid safe even when they’re not in school in order to avoid bringing the virus into schools.

Originally, elementary schools would’ve been split into three groups that attend in-person classes one out of every three weeks.

Full Remote Academy: This change will not affect students enrolled in Full Remote Academy. Families who want to opt into or out of the all-virtual learning plan have the option to change going into next semester. Requests to make changes should be submitted to your child’s school before December 4.

Covid precautions: Elementary students and staff will be required to wear masks. Increased hand washing and cleaning will also be emphasized.

Six feet social distancing is encouraged, but not all classrooms are large enough to maintain that distance between students. The CMS plan for elementary schools says it will “observe social distancing to the extent possible.”

The ability to social distance also depends on the number of students enrolled in Full Remote Academy. Ballantyne Elementary, for example, has 52 percent of its students enrolled in Full Remote Academy, which means it can accommodate six feet social distancing. Sharon Elementary has 15 percent of its students enrolled in Full Remote Academy, so it can’t always maintain six feet social distancing.

Some schools, like Torrence Creek Elementary, created a video to show students and parents what school during a pandemic will look like.

Here’s the full list of school Covid safety precautions outlined by NCDHHS.

South Mecklenburg High School rocks with messages “stay home, stay safe, stay kind” and “spread kindness not germs.”

Middle and high school plan: The plan for middle and high school students is still to go back under Plan B: a mix of in-person and virtual learning.

Middle school students were originally supposed to return to in person classes on November 23. But, a shortage in bus drivers pushed that date back to January 5. High school students will return for testing in mid-December. They’ll return for classes on January 5.

Both middle and high school students will be split into three groups. They’ll attend in-person classes one week and learn virtually for the following two weeks.

Pre-K students went back to school in-person on October 12. They’re not on a rotational schedule.

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