CABARRUS COUNTY, N.C. — Cabarrus County families will have to keep their kids at home starting on Monday.
The school district on Wednesday night voted to return to all remote learning. The 5-2 vote came during an emergency meeting.
Starting on Monday, no students will be in-person for class. They will return Jan. 19.
The district made the decision after the state’s COVID alert system showed Cabarrus County in the “red zone,” and leaders are worried about a post-Thanksgiving surge in cases.
Superintendent Chris Lowder said staffing was also becoming a challenge.
“We have not gotten to the point where we’re going to close school tomorrow because we can’t cover it, but are there TAs that are pulled to cover it? Are there coordinators that are pulled to cover it? Yes. Are teachers covering during planning periods? Yes. So all of them said we are stretched to the point of its very difficult to cover,” Lowder said.
The only two school board members to oppose the plan were Rob Walters and Laura Blackwell.
Blackwell said the spread of the virus is not happening inside schools, and that the community spread was expected.
“We are going to have a spike over Christmas. We are going to have a spike over Valentine’s Day. We are going to have a spike over Easter,” she said. “We are going to continue to have spikes -- we cannot keep these children out of school for all of these continued spikes.”
According to Blackwell, at Mount Pleasant High School, 86 kids are failing all four classes, 150 are failing three, 200 are failing two classes and 400 are failing one class -- her evidence that virtual learning isn’t working.
Channel 9 did some digging and found that those numbers are out of the 863 students at the school, meaning nearly every student is in some academic trouble.
Paula Yost is the founder of Cabarrus Apple Cart -- a political action committee in the county that supports teachers and the school board.
“The numbers coming out of many of our high schools are bad. We have children who are failing. We have children who are severely depressed,” Yost said.
It’s a reality she says school board members understand, but so is COVID-19. The rising case numbers are leading to staffing issues that are straining schools.
“This isn’t a decision they enjoyed or took lightly they had no other option really,” Yost said
Single dad Graig Barber is worried for his seventh grade son, Gavin. Especially because he has to work and leave him alone during the school day. He says he gets the bind the school board is in, he just wishes they’d leave the choice up to parents.
“For those of us who feel like safety precautions are being taken they’re wearing masks and social distancing allow those kids to attend school because they need that,” he said.
The school district said the change will be for all students, but at their next meeting in January, they will explore whether they should bring certain groups back sooner.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools made the same decision to move back to remote learning earlier this week as well. Both districts will do so during the same window of time.
The big difference between CMS and Cabarrus County is that CMS kept pre-K students in-person and not online.
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