Currituck to begin phased return to school
Published 9:32 am Saturday, October 10, 2020
The Currituck County Board of Education voted at an October 6 meeting to begin a phased return to face-to-face school student instruction on October 22.
After a review of four different options by Superintendent Dr. Matt Lutz, the board elected allow grades pre-k through 5 to attend school on site four full days, Monday through Thursday; grades 6-8 will have roughly half attend Monday/Tuesday and half Wednesday/Thursday with remote online learning when not on campus; and grades 9-12 will continue remote learning through the end of the first semester on December 18.
Middle school students with last names A-M will begin attending October 22 and students with names N-Z October 23. Lutz said all students at elementary level would be returning October 26.
Every Friday will be a half day of remote learning for all grade 6-8 students to allow for building sanitizing, staff professional development and teacher planning with virtual students.
Lutz went on to say the plan allows considerations for special student populations in grades 9-12 at the high school to return to school for small group instruction provided safety protocols are in place. Students with disabilities would also be allowed an extension of services.
Lutz also stressed that once children do return to school, classrooms and schools are likely to look different.
Some of the differences include:
– daily health screenings will be required for bus transportation.
– health screenings will be required for entry to schools.
– bus and school entry will be prohibited for anyone with temperatures 100.4 or higher.
– cloth face coverings will be required for all.
– visitors to schools will be limited and parents will not be allowed to walk their children into the building.
– transportation density will be limited.
– hand sanitizers and signs will be in all schools
– school meals will be grab-and-go-bags and not all meals will be inside the cafeteria.
– safety measures include required social distancing with routine cleaning and sanitizing.
– sharing of items will not be allowed
– recess and mask breaks outside will be permitted and encouraged.
– schools may close temporarily if there are cluster outbreaks of COVID-19.
– staff with health concerns may become part of the virtual program instead of the in-person team, which means students may have different teachers than those previously assigned.
Lutz also has to work out some of the transportation logistics.
With a required reduction in the number of students allowed per bus, the county’s fleet of 43 buses is not enough to allow the transportation of every Currituck County student if all elected to ride.
“We do not have enough buses to match the number of students,” Lutz added.
Even if parents drop students off, the process will be slowed by temperature checks and health screenings.
“We recognize there will be some pain points, but will work to make them as smooth as possible,” he added.
On a more positive note, Lutz said the USDA has extended the fee waiver for schools to continue serving lunches, which means all students – both in person and virtual – age 1-18 may receive a breakfast and lunch meal at no cost through December.
Lutz also said another directive from Governor Cooper could result in additional guideline changes.