As Elizabeth City-Pasquotank Public Schools prepares to bring students back into school buildings on Monday, some students may have to attend a school outside their regular district because of differences in available capacity.
ECPPS Superintendent Catherine Edmonds said at last week’s meeting of the Board of Education that the schools are working closely with ABC Science Collaborative, a team of doctors at Duke, on best practices for bringing students back to school campuses.
The capacity at each school was determined based on social distancing, Edmonds explained.
She reported on the capacity at each of the elementary and middle schools, which is based on the number of families requesting continued remote instruction and those opting for in-person instruction. The numbers reflect what those counts were as of the Sept. 28 school board meeting.
Weeksville Elementary School is at capacity for kindergarten and six students over for the first-grade. There are two spaces available in second-grade, one space in third-grade; five available in fourth-grade, and eight spaces in fifth-grade.
J.C. Sawyer Elementary School does not have spaces available in second-, fourth- or fifth-grade, but has five available in kindergarten, one in first-grade and two in third-grade.
Pasquotank Elementary School has slots available in every grade: 14 in kindergarten, 21 in first-grade, 17 in second-grade, eight in third-grade; 22 in fourth-grade, and 21 in fifth-grade.
Kindergarten at Pasquotank Elementary has a capacity of 24 and a student count of 10. Its first-grade capacity is 30 with a count of nine, while its second-grade capacity is 20 with a student count of three. Its third-grade capacity is 30 with a count of 22, while its fourth-grade capacity is 30 with a count of eight. Its fifth-grade capacity is 30 with a count of nine.
P.W. Moore Elementary School has slots available in every grade: four in kindergarten, 12 in first-grade, three in second-grade, 18 in third-grade, 14 in fourth-grade, and nine in fifth-grade.
Central Elementary School — over capacity by 12 students in kindergarten, has a capacity of 24 and a current student count of 36. It’s also over by eight students in first-grade, where the capacity is 16 and the student count is 24. It’s also over capacity by six students in the second-, third- and fourth-grades. Each grade has 24 slots available for 30 students. The school is also one student over capacity in fifth-grade, where 25 students are seeking 24 slots.
Sheep-Harney Elementary School is over capacity by four in kindergarten and at capacity in third-grade. The school has two slots available in first-grade, three in second-grade, two in fourth-grade, and three in fifth-grade.
Northside Elementary School has four spaces available in kindergarten, eight in first-grade, five in second-grade, 10 in third-grade, two in fourth-grade, and 10 in fifth-grade.
Elizabeth City Middle School has 27 spaces available in sixth-grade, 10 in seventh-grade and 35 in eighth-grade.
River Road Middle School has 69 spaces available in sixth-grade, where the capacity is 116 and a current student count of 47. There are 28 spaces available in seventh-grade and 44 in in eighth-grade.
Several parents submitted comments to be read during the ECPPS Board of Education’s Sept. 26 meeting.
Sharon Tindlock asked the board to consider the challenges of elementary students having to sit all day and wear masks.
“School is not the same, so please don’t treat the school day like the students are doing normal things,” Tindlock said. “I hope you all consider shortening the day and making it realistic for everyone.”
Heather Perkins asked about guidelines for facemasks, such as whether there will be restrictions on certain colors or prints.
Destinee Barrera, a teacher at Pasquotank Elementary School, said vacant custodian positions, substitute teaching and nursing positions need to be filled before students return to school buildings.
She also cited a number of other questions and concerns.
“I admit that we cannot stay in virtual mode forever, and there are benefits to returning to face-to-face instruction; however, I think that we owe it to our students and community to only return when we have the proper equipment and are fully staffed and ready to handle all possible outcomes,” Barrera said.