Dare school board votes to fully reopen elementary schools, hybrid plan set for middle and upper grades

Published 8:53 am Sunday, October 4, 2020

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On Oct. 1, 2020, Dare County Board of Education voted unanimously by roll call vote to reopen pre-kindergarten through fifth grade to face-to-face classroom instruction five days per week and for six through twelfth grades, a hybrid schedule with two days in school and two days remotely.

The board also approved calendar changes and gave the go-ahead to middle and high school athletics.

About 7:15 p.m., Dare Schools Superintendent John Farrelly finished his presentation regarding six options, transportation, nutrition services and additional aspects of reopening. Board member Harvey Hess made the motion to accept Option 2 with a second from board member Joe Tauber. Both pushed for reopening schools.

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The new setup will start Monday, Oct. 26. The adopted calendar changes make Oct. 21, 22 and 23 required teacher workdays to get rooms ready for instruction. No remote teaching will happen on those three days. Students are not expected to work remotely. The end of quarter is now Oct. 20, 2020.

Parents must make decisions about students attending in-person or virtually. The deadline for signing up for the virtual learning offering is Thursday, Oct. 8 at 5 p.m. The link to register for virtual school is here and the email address for an application and more information is virtualoption@daretolearn.org.

The Dare County Schools Virtual School starts Monday, Oct. 26 and is available to students in grades k-12. Those who enroll in Virtual School will remain in that setting through the first semester, which ends Jan. 15, 2021.

A phased re-entry will be implemented for those students returned to school buildings.

For Week 1, Oct. 26 through 30, students in grades three through five will attend school to learn how to navigate with COVID-19 safety requirements. The next week, Nov. 2 through 6, kindergarten through second grade students will return.

Middle and high school students will attend school on-site in A/B cohorts on alternating days each week and remote learning on off-site days.

Cohort A, half the alphabet, attends in school Monday and Thursday and virtually Tuesday and Friday. Cohort B, the other half of the alphabet, attends in school Tuesday and Friday and remotely Monday and Thursday. Wednesday will be a deep cleaning day and also open for enrichment, planning and interventions. This option reduces student campus density by 50%.

Exceptional children on Extended Content Standards in separate setting classrooms in grades k-12 can participate daily.

This option also lets the system’s After School Enrichment Program (ASEP) run in the elementary schools.

Farrelly started his presentation praising the system’s 400 teachers: “we are talent rich.” He also reported that classroom teachers had real concerns, for example exposure risk, wearing masks to teach, transitioning to new routines. He also acknowledged the incredible amount of work that teachers have done to teach remotely and will do to teach in the new setup.

School will be different. Masks are required for all unless a student has an exemption or is under five years of age.

Social distancing in hallways and gyms is required, which will slow transit times. More outside time will be built into the day.

To enter, three health screening questions must be answered on Healthy Roster, a symptom survey platform to assess student health. The survey is sent electronically and returned with a green screen that can be held up in a car or bus.

On entering a facility, a student or stakeholder will have a temperature check with a thermal scanner. Farrell thanked the Dare County Board of Commissioners for purchasing the thermal scanners.

If a temperature over 100.4 is registered, a person will be asked to leave the campus. A student with the same temperature will be placed in a quarantine room until a parent can pick the child up.

Bus transportation will be provided. A registration form will be sent out. Only 24 students will be seated on each bus. Children in the same family can sit together. Double routes will be required.

School lunch and breakfast will be picked up in the cafeteria and eaten in the classroom. For those in Virtual School, specific times will be designated at each site. Pick-up sites are Manteo Middle for Manteo schools; First Flight High for First Flight Schools, Nags Head and Kitty Hawk; and Cape Hatteras Secondary for all Cape Hatteras grades.

During this pandemic time, Dare County Schools has and will continue to suspend the use of school facilities for community use.

Sheila F. Davies, Dare County Public Health director and Health and Human Services director, presented information to the school board before Farrelly delved into the details of the various options.

Of the total number of COVID-19 cases, 49 are in the four to 18 years of age bracket, representing 16% of the positive cases in Dare County. She also stated that the Dare County and Dare County Schools websites will carry weekly updates showing the number of new cases and percentages in the schools.

Farrelly recommended and the board approved the athletic preseason conditioning starting Monday, Oct. 5 following the guidelines and safety protocols of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association. Middle and high school athletic seasons are to begin Nov. 5.

At the end of his Friday morning email to Dare County Schools families, Farrell wrote, “we will provide a lot more information over the next 3 weeks as we prepare for implementing Option 2. I know that we have many challenges ahead of us but I am confident that we will all pull together during this transition.”



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