A group of Elizabeth City-Pasquotank Public Schools administrators and school board members toured two elementary schools Friday afternoon to view preparations for the return of students for in-person classes.
“We wanted to see what it looks like; a day in the life of a student as we return back from COVID,” said ECPPS Superintendent Catherine Edmonds at the start of the tour at P.W. Moore Elementary School. District officials and school board members also toured Pasquotank Elementary.
Friday’s tour comes after Gov. Roy Cooper’s announcement last week that public school districts can now allow full, in-person classes for students in grades K-5 under what’s known as the Plan A option.
Up until now, the ECPPS district has held all student classes remotely, what’s known as the Plan C option. It’s expected, however, that the ECPPS Board of Education will agree to move the district to Plan A for grades K-5 as early as Monday.
During Friday’s tour, P.W. Moore Principal Stephanie Ambrose showed the visitors how the school’s classrooms are set up.
Each classroom features a sign posted at the door stating the maximum number of adults and students allowed in the room at a given time. The rooms also are equipped with sanitizing solution.
Most teacher desks in classrooms are fitted with a plastic shield similar to those in supermarkets or convenience stores that can offer teachers a measure of protection from any airborne particles.
Only one classroom in the school was fitted with shields for student desks. That was the class for special needs students, where shields were attached to three sides of the desk. Officials said the desks have the shields because of the difficulty special needs students may have keeping on a facemask during the school day.
Ambrose pointed out that all hallways at the school have been set up as one-way. Teacher assistants, she said, will be assigned as hall monitors to ensure students comply with social distancing and similar requirements in the hallways.
Ambrose said there will be no changing of classes at P.W. Moore. Students will stay in the same classroom all day and teachers will change from one room to another, she explained.
“Lunch will be brought to them so that they don’t have to go out,” Ambrose said.
Desks in the classrooms have been separated by six feet on all sides. Beside each desk is a bin for the student’s school supplies.
In the first-grade classrooms the floor will be marked to designate for each child where their area is.
Ambrose said first-graders may be learning the word “perimeter” because their area’s perimeter will be marked on the floor.
The first-grade classroom that Ambrose used as a model has its own bathroom. She said each time a child uses it, the bathroom will be sanitized afterward.
Elizabeth City Middle School Principal Delisha Moore, who was in the group touring P.W. Moore Elementary, said the schools are following state guidelines and also best practices published by Duke University.
Edmonds said the principals have been sharing ideas and working together on plans to reopen schools.
“They are awesome,” Edmonds said of the district’s principals.
Ambrose agreed that the principals have been working together as a team.
“The main thing is we are going to make it together,” Ambrose said.
Ambrose showed the group the isolation room, where students will be sent if they become sick after arriving at school.
The child’s parents will come to the office and then a staff member will escort the child to the back door to meet the parent.