CONCORD, N.C. — A group of parents and teachers plans to call on the Cabarrus County School Board to delay the full return of face-to-face instruction -- which is currently scheduled to resume on Feb. 16 -- until “schools can re-open safely.”
Cabarrus County schools have been in Plan B, which is a mix of both in-school learning and remote learning.
“23 states are vaccinating educators during the pandemic,” said Susan Foulks, a Furr Elementary School teacher in Cabarrus County. “Why is North Carolina not on this list? Why do our elected leaders heap all kinds of praise on educators? They say we are essential. They say nothing is more important than opening our schools. So then why are they not vaccinating educators to protect us from this virus that has killed 14 educators in our state?”
The group wants the school board to allow all educators and staff to have access to COVID-19 vaccines before they come back into school buildings. They also want a guarantee of six feet of social distancing for all students, as well as mask-wearing and handwashing, and full transparency of virus infection data -- including the exact number and school location of person-to-person infections in school buildings.
The group points to infections, deaths and percentage of positive tests as key metrics in Cabarrus County which they say show that teachers need to be vaccinated before returning to the classroom.
“As a parent, I wish we had vaccines for people under 16, but unfortunately, we don’t,” said Ashley Price, a parent of a 3rd and 4th grader at Irwin Elementary and a 10th grader at Mt. Pleasant High School. “That’s why we need 6-feet of social distance inside our schools. Our school board is considering a reopen plan which will not guarantee 6 feet.”
“We want to fully reopen, we want all of our students to come every single day,” said teacher Meredith Newman. “When we can do that safely, safely for students and safely for school staff.”
Newman, a second-grade teacher, is set to have her students back in school on Feb. 16 for four days a week. She said it would be crowded and difficult to stay six feet apart.
“My students are very familiar with the 3 W’s … of course they’re second graders, they are not robots. They are humans. Their masks slip below their noses regularly and we drink water and we eat lunch, so when we talk about wearing a mask, we know that’s not perfect in a classroom.”
Channel 9 reached out to the school board about the calls from teachers and parents, and spoke with board member Carolyn Carpenter, who said she shares similar concerns.
“I’m not against the children going back, but do it safely, and let’s do it gradually,” she told Channel 9. “I would like to see all our teachers vaccinated beforehand. I have always had the concern with the social distancing, some classrooms we can, others we can’t.”
Carpenter supports staying in Plan C until she said it is safe for all. She also said families should expect a representative from the Cabarrus Health Alliance at the next board meeting to answer questions.
The group plans to hold a news conference at 4:45 p.m. Monday outside the Cabarrus County Public Schools district office.
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