Here are the top 4 things you need to know from this message:
- The Governor announced that school districts will now have the OPTION for K-5 students to move to full, in-person learning (Plan A in the A/B/C Plan).
- Plan A continues to include important safety measures like face coverings for all students, teachers, and staff, social distancing, and symptom screening but does not require schools to reduce the number of children in the classroom.
- We are excited that we now have this option but we need to work with our local health department to weigh all aspects of our staff and students' health and safety.
- We do not yet have a timeline about when we will make any announcements.
Dear Catawba County Schools families,
This afternoon, Governor Cooper announced that North Carolina public school districts are allowed to choose Plan A (full in-person learning) for students in kindergarten through fifth grade, effective October 5. We are excited that we now have this option because we know that learning in-person is best for our students, families, and staff. However, we need to carefully consider all aspects of everyone's health and safety before making our decision. We will continue to work closely with our Catawba County Department of Public Health to weigh these critical decisions and work through the logistics, and this will take time.
When will we decide whether we will move our K-5 students to Plan A?
We do not have a set date yet as we learned about this news today as well. It will take some time to work together with our local health department to carefully consider the risks and benefits to everyone involved. We will also need to work through the transportation and logistics issues of bringing our K-5 students back full-time.
How is Plan A different than Plan B?
Plan A still requires all of the same health and safety measures except the 50% capacity requirement. As outlined in the StrongSchoolsNC Public Health Toolkit, all staff, students, and visitors will still be required to wear a face-covering in our buildings. Temperature checks and symptom screenings will still be required, as will enhanced cleaning protocols and frequent hand washing. We will not be required to reduce the number of students in our K-5 classrooms like in Plan B.
Why are only K-5 students allowed to return to Plan A but not students in grades 6-12?
Secretary Cohen cited studies that show that younger children (10 and under) get COVID-19 less often, get less severely sick, and have less viral transmission back to their household or to other children they are around. Additionally, educational studies show the benefits to in-person learning is even more significant in our youngest students.
While younger students have a lower risk, there is still a risk. That is why strong safety protocols still exist in Plan A, including the requirement for face-coverings, temperature checks, symptom screenings, frequent hand-washing, and enhanced cleaning and sanitization protocols.
Why did the Governor state that it is safe for K-5 students to return to Plan A?
Governor Cooper and Secretary of Public Health, Dr. Mandy Cohen, explained that because most North Carolinians have doubled down on safety and prevention measures, key COVID-19 numbers have stabilized, and some have decreased. Key metrics include downward or stabilizing trends of emergency room visits for patients with COVID-19-like symptoms, the number of positive cases, the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations, and more. Additionally, Dr. Cohen stated that there had been no differences in the spread of the virus in communities with districts that are all remote (Plan C) versus hybrid (Plan B) like ours.
What if I have additional questions?
We will continue to update you as we learn more. In the meantime, we encourage you to explore the resources below:
View the updated StrongSchoolsNC Public Health Toolkit (K-12)
Please refer to the StrongSchoolsNC Frequently Asked Questions document for additional support.
View all public health guidance documents for K – 12 schools, and check back often for updates.
Once again, we thank you for your continued patience and support as we all work through this together! As soon as we have more information, we will let you know via our website, email, text, and social media channels.
Please continue to practice the 3 W's to help us get ALL of our students back in our buildings full-time!
- Wear a cloth mask over your nose and mouth.
- Wait 6 feet apart. Avoid close contact.
- Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer.