On Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020, during the September Board of Education Work Session the Board of Education received several presentations as they consider whether to return to school in Plan B at the end of the first nine weeks of instruction. The system continues preparations to return to school for in-person instruction.

If the Board decides to transition the school system to Plan B, the first days of instruction would be October 6th, 2020 for early college students and October 19th, 2020, for our traditional schools. The Board of Education took no formal action during the meeting however they plan on receiving public input at the Board of Education Meeting on Thursday, Sept. 17 at 6 p.m. prior to taking action on the return to school under Plan B.

Dr. Meghan S. Doyle Superintendent, shared a presentation on the roadmap to returning to school and the importance of having our students in school. Craven County Schools began preparation for the three operational plans directed by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services and North Carolina Department of Public Instruction in May.

As part of that process the district solicited input from families and staff about multiple components of the return to school for the 2020-2021 school year (instructional and operational).

Among those was a question related to returning students back to in-person instruction, blended learning (partial remote and partial in-person), or fully virtual/remote.

This information was not solicited as a vote, but instead to identify the preferences related to returning to in-person instruction as we approached our plan to return students to learning while abiding by the requirements of offering a virtual-only instructional option for the remainder of the year and in-person learning as possible. The data revealed the range from approximately 60% to 70% of students, parents, and teachers wishing to return to some form of in-person instruction.

Since the decision to adopt an all remote learning plan (Plan C) in July, Craven County Schools has received multiple parent/family concerns related to the challenges of Plan C on learning, the social and emotional toll on students, and lack of internet access for virtual learning. These have been particularly prevalent from the parents of students with significant cognitive and physical disabilities, young students, and those with little or no internet access.

Scott Harrelson, Craven County Health director, has advocated the return of students to in-person instruction. He shared an article from the Centers for Disease Control, titled “The Importance of Opening America’s Schools This Fall.” The introduction to this resource states, “…the harms attributed to closed schools on the social, emotional, and behavioral health, economic well-being, and academic achievement of children, in both the short- and long-term, are well-known and significant. Further, the lack of in-person educational options disproportionately harms low-income and minority children and those living with disabilities. These students are far less likely to have access to private instruction and care and far more likely to rely on key school-supported resources like food programs, special education services, counseling, and after-school programs to meet basic developmental needs.”

As it began the 2020-2021 school year, Craven County Schools has continued preparations for returning to in-person instruction in the areas of facilities, transportation, instruction, school health, and public relations and communications.

The Board of Education will be taking all of this information into consideration plus many other factors including staff and student health, safety, and well-being when making their formal decision for the second nine weeks of the 2020-2021 school year. To view the Plan B proposed schedule for students and families that will be returning for face to face instruction please click here. A press release will be issued at the conclusion of the meeting on Thursday, September 17, 2020, to inform stakeholders of the decision made by the Board of Education.

Submitted by Craven County Schools, Craven County Board of Education

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