Governor Roy Cooper announced today that based on metrics concerning COVID19 trends in North Carolina districts across the state an elect to allow students in Kindergarten through 5th grade to attend school under Plan A beginning October 5.
“We are able to open this option because most North Carolinians have doubled down on our safety and prevention measures and stabilized our numbers,” said Governor Roy Cooper. “North Carolinians are doing the hard work to improve our numbers and trends. Many people are wearing masks, keeping social distance, and being careful to protect others as well as themselves. We have shown that listening to the science works. And I’m proud of our resolve.”
The change is an option for public school systems across North Carolina, not a mandate, Gov. Cooper said. All students and staff will be required to wear masks, and schools will have to follow social distancing, health screening, and sanitation regulations, but there will be no restriction on the number of students in classrooms.
Plan A will allow children to return to in-person learning at full capacity with safety protocols in place. Districts can now decide to have elementary students attend school five days a week, with all students attending each day. Under Plan B, schools had to reduce capacity of students by half, which resulted in students attending a limited number of days in divided groups.
North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen stated that since school reopened on August 17, 10 schools in North Carolina have reported COVID19 clusters – one of which was Franklin High School in Macon County.
Dr. Cohen said that based on studies and data currently available, elementary students are less likely to contract COVID19 and less likely to spread it, which is why elementary students can return to the classroom at full capacity.
Social distancing requirements for classrooms are still in place under Plan A, however, it is less restrictive than Plan B, which will allow all students to attend the same day.
“It’s great news today that we are a step closer to providing the option of in-person learning to families who want their children to return to school,” Superintendent of Public Instruction Mark Johnson said in a statement. “The option for remote learning remains in place for families who may not yet feel comfortable returning to schools. But we need to open our schools for students, teachers, and parents who are ready to return.”
Macon County Schools Superintendent Dr. Chris Baldwin said that it is unlikely Macon County will make a decision regarding the local district before September 28, which is when the Board of Education is scheduled to meet next. The district wouldn’t be able to implement the change until October 5, according to Gov. Cooper.
JCPS administration is working on a plan to be presented for approval at the regularly scheduled school board meeting on Tuesday, September 22 at 6:00 pm.
Trajectory in COVID-Like Illness (CLI) Surveillance Over 14 Days
North Carolina’s syndromic surveillance trend for COVID-like illness is declining.
Trajectory of Confirmed Cases Over 14 Days
North Carolina’s trajectory of lab-confirmed cases is declining.
Trajectory in Percent of Tests Returning Positive Over 14 Days
North Carolina’s trajectory in percent of tests returning positive is declining.
Trajectory in Hospitalizations Over 14 Days
North Carolina’s trajectory of hospitalizations is declining.
In addition to these metrics, the state continues building capacity to be able to adequately respond to an increase in virus spread. These areas include:
Access to testing has expanded. No-cost testing events are being deployed across the state and testing turnaround times have improved.
Contact tracers continue to be hired to bolster the efforts of local health departments. A new exposure notification app will be launched soon.
Personal Protective Equipment
Personal protective equipment (PPE) supplies are stable