CHARLOTTE — Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools took another step toward normalcy on Monday.
CMS, along with several other school districts, sent more students back to the classroom four days a week.
For CMS, middle and high school students will now attend in-person instruction Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.
Older CMS students will now mirror what elementary students are already doing. The plan brings everyone back together all at once with reduced social distancing.
CMS Superintendent Earnest Winston made the recommendation last month, which the board approved.
Before Monday, middle and high school students were only in the classroom two days a week, with remote learning the rest of the week. Now, every student who opted for in-person learning will learn in the classroom on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.
Everyone will learn remotely on Wednesday.
Students who feel comfortable coming back, like Natalie Bruce, said they are eager to see their friends and teachers, especially as vaccines become more available for teachers and anyone over 16.
“We want to go back to school, we want to go back to our lives and all the things we’ve been missing out on,” Bruce said.
For Myers Park junior Stella Smolowitz, being back in any capacity is making a difference.
“I love being outside and seeing all the people. I’m a pretty extroverted person, and I get my energy from the students and from being in the class, and I feel like I’m finally being able to form those relationships with the teachers that I didn’t really get to form over virtual Zoom,” she said.
It’s certainly different from what students experienced under a hybrid schedule; six feet of social distancing isn’t required, and certainly tough to implement in some of the large schools.
When asked if she felt safe, Smolowitz responded, “I mean, there were definitely times that I was very glad that we were all wearing masks, but I do think that everybody and the teachers are enforcing it, but I do feel like everybody was wearing their mask.”
She said they were as distanced as possible.
“Of course, we have a little less than 4,000 students so it’s hard to be six feet apart, but I felt like we were at least three feet, if not more than that, so I felt very safe,” Smolowitz said.
Several other districts, including Burke, Caldwell, Catawba, Cleveland, Gaston and Union counties, either start or expand Plan A learning on Monday.
Cabarrus County will expand Plan A on Tuesday.