NC releases 116-page guidebook on reopening public schools

NC releases 116-page guidebook on reopening public schools

CHARLOTTE — The North Carolina State Board of Education met Thursday morning and released a more comprehensive plan for schools in the upcoming academic year.

They laid out a 116-page plan to keep students safe. The guidebook outlines detailed requirements and recommendations on everything from cleaning to social distancing, and what that looks like.

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Leaders presented options on social distancing, like having some students physically in the school building and some at home –- breaking it up by grade level. Or having groups of students alternate days or weeks of in-person instruction.

It will be up to individual schools to figure out what would work for them.

The 116-page guidebook is something leaders said is an evolving, living document. In it, there are sections on how required health screenings will work, a very strict protocol for handling presumptive positive cases, and also how to protect vulnerable populations.

Officials have already said schools will need to prepare for three scenarios, and a decision on which of the three is anticipated by July 1.

State leaders are watching the trends surrounding coronavirus as it decides when to reopen schools and it all depends on how severe the pandemic is come August.

The three options on the table are minimal social distancing (if cases are stable), moderate social distancing (if the numbers get worse), and remote learning (if the outbreak is so bad that schools would have to close).

The state board of education chair gave an example of that moderate social distancing plan, saying it would require limiting school occupancy to 50%.

The hope is that if the necessary precautions are taken now, schools could stick to minimal social distancing.

Channel 9′s education reporter Elsa Gillis talked to State Superintendent Mark Johnson about the three options.

Plan B is the most complicated because leaders would have to meet capacity limits.

“Plan B is social distancing. It’s reduced amount of students in school buildings, reduced amount of students on school buses and when they are on buses and in buildings they have to be 6 feet apart," Johnson said.

The superintendent said leaders are still working out the details because it is a very complicated decision.

“There tough decisions that we can make where some people that might not even want to send their child to school can opt into, we’ll stay at home and give that spot to, you know, the student who doesn’t have an option. These are answers that we don’t have right now ,” he said.

South Carolina’s task force laid out its recommendations for the upcoming school year on Thursday as well.

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