Area school districts know social distancing will play a role in any plan to reopen schools this fall. Just how big a role is something they’re expected to learn today.
Elizabeth City-Pasquotank Public Schools Superintendent Catherine Edmonds told the Board of Education Monday that Gov. Roy Cooper is expected to announce today which of three social distancing approaches will be implemented when school starts in the fall.
The N.C. Department of Public Instruction has asked local school districts to prepare for three options. Under the A option which calls for minimal social distancing, all students would be in school at the same time. Under the B option which calls for moderate social distancing, schools would have a student density of only 50 percent. Under the C option, school districts would continue to offer instruction by remote learning, meaning no students would be allowed in school facilities.
ECPPS has established what it’s calling a re-entry task force to prepare for all three options.
“We have all heads around the table thinking though what it will look like when we reopen schools,” Edmonds said.
The task force is working with the district’s school safety committee as well as the Pasquoank County Health Department.
Other area school districts also have established re-entry committees or task forces and are incorporating guidance from DPI officials.
Edmonds told school board members that even though some people are talking about wanting to return to normal, it’s worth remembering that before the pandemic “normal” for some children was poverty and lack of access to broadband and other important resources.
“We may need to redefine what is ‘normal’ for our school district as we move forward,” she said.
Edmonds said as the school district moves toward the start of the next school year every effort will be made to limit miscommunication.
“Communication is going to be key,” she said.
DPI has already provided some guidance on how students will be transported back and forth to school. According to that guidance, only one child per seat will be allowed on school buses. The only exception would be for students from the same family; they would be allowed to sit on the same seat.
Edmonds said more guidance from the state on bus transportation is expected.
“We’re also looking at ‘how do we take temperatures?’” Edmonds said, referring to the need to check students’ and staff temperatures as they enter school buildings.
With so much changing so fast, Edmonds said families are encouraged to follow ECPPS on social media and visit the school district’s website for the latest information.
Edmonds said ECPPS will make sure all children are well regardless of which plan is implemented.
On an unrelated matter, board member Buck Jolly said the recent Northeastern and Pasquotank graduation events were great.
Board member George Archuleta agreed, adding that the two high schools are different and celebrated graduation in different ways.
“I think that’s what makes these great,” Archuleta said.
Board member Sheila Williams thanked the principals of both NHS and PCHS for their work on the high school graduations.