Governor Roy Cooper announced on July 14, 2020, that N.C. public schools would return to school for the 2020-2021 academic year utilizing a mixture of in-person and remote learning, but also allowing school districts flexibility to utilize remote learning as an option for all students.
The difficult decisions that we have had to make in the past few months have been done with the health, safety, and welfare of our scholars and staff members in mind. There continues to be wide community spread of COVID-19 in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg County area. The CDC has updated their guidance to clarify mitigation strategies based on level of community transmission of COVID-19. It suggests additional strategies “...be considered when there is substantial transmission in the local community….” including the extension of schools offering distance learning. Three in four cases of COVID-19 occur in individuals ages 20-59. This put a majority of our staff population at risk.
While our Board initially voted in favor of Plan B’s hybrid approach to opening, which would have included both in-person and remote instruction, that plan was contingent on having enough teacher support to provide high quality, grade level appropriate instruction to scholars while on campus. An overwhelming majority of our teachers either cannot return to in-person instruction or are uncomfortable doing so, given the current metrics. We are concerned about the quality of instruction that would be offered with less than 30% of the teaching staff available or if teachers are pressured to teach in person, against their own wishes. Accordingly, without sufficient teacher support for the hybrid plan, the Board of Directors has approved our school year to start with remote learning. This decision will be reviewed by October 29, 2020 [the end of 1st quarter]. Our decision to return and the flexibility that will be offered to scholars and teachers desiring to continue with remote learning will be based on the metrics in our community at that time. We are working through what those benchmarks will be and will communicate them for your planning purposes.
More information will come in the following days about our distance learning program. We are working to ensure that it is more rigorous than what we were forced into in the Spring, while at the same time taking into account families’ schedules and the mental health needs of our scholars.
We understand that these are challenging times. It is difficult when we must consider modifying our course of action. Thank you for your support, patience and understanding as we continue to prioritize the health and safety of our scholars and staff.