On the afternoon of Tuesday, February 9, during a more than four-hour Alamance-Burlington School System Board of Education Work Session, the elected board gathered information from ABSS officials, including Superintendent Dr. Bruce Benson, regarding the planned returned to in-person learning that was approved back on January 12.
In a press release distributed by the school system on the afternoon of February 9, ABSS indicated that the plan remains unchanged and provides each family with a choice of in-person or continued remote learning as follows:
Beginning on March 1, elementary schools will implement a cohort model for grades K-5 students that have selected to return to in-person learning. Students will attend school in person two days (either Monday/Tuesday or Thursday/Friday) with remote learning at home for the remainder of the week.
Beginning on March 8, middle and high schools will implement a cohort model for grades 6-12 students that have selected to return to in-person learning. Students will attend school in person two days (either Monday/Tuesday or Thursday/Friday) with remote learning at home for the remainder of the week.
Adapted Curriculum students will also follow the cohort schedule. Pre-K students will remain on their current schedule, attending five days. Families that want to continue with remote learning for the remainder of the school year may do so.
The ABSS Work Session coincided on February 12 with an action by the North Carolina State Senate - Senate Bill 37 - that will mandate the return to in-person learning by all public schools throughout the State of North Carolina. Most believe the bill will also pass the North Carolina State House of Representatives and then go on to Governor Roy Cooper.
North Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Wayne Goodwin released the following statement after Governor Cooper’s press conference last week, in which the Governor urged school districts to allow students to safely return to school.
“We applaud Governor Cooper’s leadership today calling on school districts across North Carolina to give students the opportunity to safely return to their classrooms. We all understand the importance of in-person instruction for our students,” Goodwin stated.
“Although the Board of Education did not take any additional action today on reopening, today was intended for information and the Board will continue to monitor the C-19 stats. The information session had lots of questions and answers,” said ABSS Chair Allison Gant. “As we left the meeting, we learned that Senate Bill 37 passed the Senate today, which would require us to open. It will go to the House next and strongly believe it will pass. Then it will go forward to the Governor and he has a choice to either sign it, veto it, or let it sit for 10 days, at which point it becomes law.”
During the ABSS Work Session, it was indicated by a representative of the Alamance County Health Department that ABSS teachers and employees have not been given preferential treatment as far as vaccinations. The county has prioritized its elderly residents, first vaccinating the 75-and-over population, and now moving into the 65-and-over population. Governor Cooper is expected to give guidance later this week on teacher vaccinations across the state.
“We have also learned that at the Governor’s press conference, he stated that he will provide an update by a weeks end on where teachers will fall in vaccinations,” Gant added.
The North Carolina Association of Educators is opposed to the return of in-person learning statewide until all teachers and educators have been fully vaccinated throughout North Carolina. NCAE is the state’s largest education advocacy organization for public school employees and represents active, retired, and student members.
“We, as NCAE, have said since the start of this pandemic that educators are eager to return to in-person instruction when it can be done safely. However, without the widespread vaccination of educators and strictly enforced social distancing, it is impossible for many schools to open safely, and for the schools that have been open, they need help,” said NCAE President Tamika Walker Kelly. “If Governor Cooper feels so strongly about resuming in-person instruction quickly, then he should support educators and immediately bring the full weight of his office to bear to get all educators vaccinated by the end of this month, just as 25 other states have been able to do. In the meantime, we encourage local school boards to continue to make decisions that protect students and educators based on local conditions. Particularly in light of the emerging and increasingly virulent strains of COVID, it is more critical than ever to have a flexible approach that can be adapted to whatever situation next emerges.”
The ABSS school district will continue to monitor the effects of COVID-19 in our community and adhere to all health and safety guidelines for public schools as outlined by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.
More information about the plan is available on the ABSS district website and on this video: https://eduvision.tv/l?emetAye Each school will communicate information about their specific cohort plans with their school families.