NEW: Chatham Schools to announce reopening strategy soon

BY HANNAH MCCLELLAN, News + Record Staff
Posted 7/15/20

Chatham County Schools will be making an announcement regarding a strategy for school reopening during the coronavirus pandemic in the coming days, according to an email sent by the system Wednesday …

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NEW: Chatham Schools to announce reopening strategy soon

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Posted

Chatham County Schools will be making an announcement regarding a strategy for school reopening during the coronavirus pandemic in the coming days, according to an email sent by the system to CCS stakeholders.

This email follows Gov. Roy Cooper’s Tuesday announcement that North Carolina Public Schools will open in August with restrictions under what’s known as Plan B — a combination of remote and in-person learning. Community and stakeholder survey results, the state’s updated guidelines and input from Chatham County Public Health Department must be processed before more information on reopening is available, the email from CCS said.

“While we had no prior knowledge that Plan B is where state officials would land, we recognized that it was the most complex option on the table and last week deployed a survey to gather your input,” said the email message a copy of which was sent to the News + Record. That survey, available on both the district and individual school’s websites, closed at noon Wednesday.

Some of the requirements outlined by the governor include required face coverings for all students and teachers, limited numbers of people — maximum 50% capacity — in school buildings to allow for social distancing and the provision of masks and thermometers to schools.

Throughout the announcement, Cooper emphasized the importance of individual schools and districts making policies tailored to their communities. In its email, CCS echoed this sentiment, stating that reopening under Plan C — with all students participating in at-home learning — is still possible under the state’s new guidelines, should “local boards of education determine that circumstances necessitate doing so.”

Currently, CCS students are scheduled to return to school Aug. 17 — nearly five months after Cooper first ordered schools closed to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Still one month out from school starting, during his announcement Cooper warned that current plans could shift to fully remote learning should coronavirus cases in the state spike.

On Wednesday, the NCHSAA said in a release it would delay the start of fall sports until at least September 1. Phase One workouts, which have been allowed since June 15, will continue, the NCHSAA said. All five of Chatham County’s high schools are currently holding those workouts.

The Chatham County Board of Education is set to consider the district’s drafted plan for continued remote learning at its Thursday meeting, which will take place at 5:30 p.m. and can be joined virtually. The drafted plan for remote instruction, available online on the Chatham County Schools website, is due July 20 to the North Carolina State Board of Education under Senate Bill 705 and SBE SPLN-006.

“More information will be available in the coming days, including directions for proactively opting into total at-home learning and how to get answers to your most pressing questions,” the CCS email concluded. “In the meantime, remember the three Ws — wear a face covering; wait six feet apart; and wash your hands regularly.”

Reporter Hannah McClellan can be reached at hannah@chathamnr.com.

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