Iredell-Statesville Schools bring elementary students back full time for in-person learning

Iredell-Statesville Schools bring elementary students back full time for in-person learning

STATESVILLE, N.C. — Students and teachers in Iredell-Statesville Schools returned Monday for in-person learning five days a week.

They are the first of the Charlotte area school districts to have pre-school through fifth-grade students return to the classroom full time.

In many ways, this is like the first day of school all over again. The district looked at everything from playgrounds to school buses.

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“I think it’s essential to our kids and their learning," Statesville parent Bryan Shoemaker. “They need the interaction with their teacher and they need the interaction with their peers.”

The district is using a phased approach after countless parents complained about struggles with online learning for younger kids.

District leaders said virtual learning is still an option for families if they feel uncomfortable with in-person learning but students will have to stick to the plan they choose for the whole semester.

Kids will be required to wear their masks and the district will continue to clean and sanitize. Officials said students will get mask breaks when they are six feet apart.

Channel 9′s Anthony Kustura spoke with a parent who said online learning has been difficult for his two children as he and his wife continue to work. He said parents should have the choice.

“Our school system has been really delicate with that,” Shoemaker said. “They’re not saying ‘It’s got to be one way or no way' but the options are there. And, if you want to remain all virtual, you can do that and I think that’s great.”

Parent Nichole Lasky has been working from home, but said it’s hard to manage her first grader’s curriculum and her own responsibilities.

“He’s a six year old. He can’t do this on his own. He needs assistance learning how to do it. It’s very hard," Lasky said after dropping her son off.

If a student, teacher or staff member tests positive for COVID-19, the district could quarantine an entire class. That’s an area for concern for Superintendent Jeff James.

James told our partners at the Record and Landmark “If we don’t continue to follow the protocol we’ve had in place that’s worked is that our teachers will be quarantined to the point we have to go back to virtual because we don’t have enough teachers to go back to Plan A.”

The district is looking at plans to bring back other students, but right now there is no timeline in place.

Lawmakers in SC want to force school districts to provide in-person learning option