Cooper expected to provide update on schools

Brandon Tester Staff Writer

RALEIGH — Gov. Roy Cooper is expected to make an announcement Wednesday regarding which procedures North Carolina public schools should follow when classes resume this fall.

Cooper previously instructed each school district to devise plans for three different reopening scenarios. Plan A will be used if schools are allowed to reopen with minimal social distancing requirements, Plan B will be used if schools are instructed to open with moderate social distancing and capacity restrictions, and Plan C will be used if schools are told to revert to the virtual learning format that was used for most of the spring semester.

Plan A would be the most similar to a normal school day, with all students attending in-person classes each day. Plan B is a hybrid model that would utilize both in-person and virtual learning to accommodate social distancing and school capacity restrictions. Public schools are already familiar with Plan C, but they’d have to prepare for it this time around if that is the plan Cooper’s administration goes with.

In a work session last week, the Richmond County Board of Education discussed the district’s options for each plan. If Plan B is put in place, district administrators want to have all students in kindergarten through fifth grade attend in-person classes each day, if possible. In that scenario, students in grades 6-12 would continue with remote learning for the time being.

Regardless of which plan is put into effect, the district is planning to have electronic devices available for each student. That way there’ll be less of an interruption if the schools need to abruptly change from in-person to virtual learning like they did in the spring.

Superintendent Jeff Maples noted that Cooper could modify his decision after his announcement.

“His decision could change again based on the metrics in our regions,” Maples said during Monday’s regular meeting of the school board. “It seems like right now COVID-19 hospitalization cases are increasing, and the percentage of people testing positive is also increasing. So we’ll stay in touch with (Gov. Cooper) and see what he decides.”

Citing increases in lab-confirmed cases, positive tests, hospitalizations and other key metrics, Cooper announced last Wednesday that Phase 2 of the plan to reopen North Carolina’s economy would be extended by three weeks. How those metrics have influenced his administration’s approach to reopening schools will be revealed Wednesday.

“We need to all work together so we can protect our families and neighbors, restore our economy, and get people back to work and our children back to school,” Cooper said in a statement.

Reach Brandon Tester at [email protected] or 910-817-2671. Follow him on Twitter @BrandonTester.