At least two area school districts will be prepared to offer an all-virtual education option to students if that’s what their families want.
The Elizabeth City-Pasquotank Public Schools is planning for both the hybrid option Gov. Roy Cooper has called for, according to ECPPS Superintendent Catherine Edmonds.
And the Currituck County Schools is also planning both approaches.
All school districts in North Carolina have been preparing for one of three COVID-19-influenced education options for when students return to school next month.
On Tuesday, Gov. Roy Cooper announced what that option will be: a mix of in-person and remote instruction. Cooper also said districts could opt for an all-remote learning plan instead of in-person classes.
ECPPS is planning for a bit of both in-person classes and remote learning based on the needs of individual students and families, Edmonds said.
Currituck is taking a similar approach.
“District staff will plan for face-to-face learning opportunities blended with some virtual instructional activities,” Renee Dowdy, Currituck’s assistant superintendent for secondary education, said in an email. “District staff will also continue to prepare an option for students/families to consider in which 100 percent of instruction will be delivered remotely.”
Even before hearing the governor’s announcement Tuesday, ECPPS already had decided it would make a virtual learning opportunity available for all students if their family preferred that.
Edmonds said the district surveyed families to find out which option they prefer and what their transportation needs are. A little more than 2,000 responses have been received thus far for the district’s 5,100 students. Edmonds said the district would like to hear from every family with a child in the district.
The survey responses so far have indicated that 38.1% prefer the all-remote option, 33.6% like an option in which school buildings would be open at full capacity (which Cooper now has taken off the table) and 28.1% prefer the hybrid option known as Option B, which the governor is implementing. The governor’s plan also allows districts to choose a remote-only option.
Edmonds noted the percentages reflect only the responses of those families that have taken the survey.
“We really need to hear from everyone,” she said.
Edmonds said families can find a link to the survey on the school district’s website.
“No plan will be a perfect plan but we are working to have the best option available for every family,” she said.
The ECPPS transportation survey has found 34.8% of families so far needing transportation for students to school and 33.6% needing transportation for them back home.
Edmonds said principals will be going into classrooms beginning this week to take measurements and begin figuring out how to make social distancing work at the schools. One of the requirements under the hybrid plan Cooper proposed requires schools to keep students six feet apart. Also, all school staff, teachers and students will be required to wear a mask.
Camden County Schools Superintendent Joe Ferrell said Camden also has sought input from families as it plans for the new school year.
“We have put together a team that is led by our middle school principal, Mr. (Levar) Mizelle,” Ferrell said. “We have a school nurse, teachers, administrators, transportation, cafeteria services, and a local doctor is coming in to advise us this week. We have surveyed families.”
Ferrell said the team plans to finalize options this week to present to the Camden Board of Education next week.
Dowdy urged Currituck families to follow the district’s website and social media for up-to-date information.
“We know there are still many questions that need to be answered,” Dowdy said. “District staff are working tirelessly to create plans that promote high quality instruction while maintaining staff and student safety.”