Schools across the state are rounding off the first month of instruction, with many local boards meeting to decide the best plan moving forward. The Jackson County Board of Education opened the school year up with a limited in-person schedule to allow students to meet their teachers and get iPads and to determine if continuing with in-person instruction was feasible. After meeting earlier this month, the board voted to move forward with Phase 2 of the district’s reentry plan, which will allow students to continue in-person instruction beginning on September 14.
The reentry plan was recommended by Interim Superintendent Dr. Tony Tipton, who assumed his role after Dr. Kim Elliot’s tenure with Jackson County ended. Dr. Tipton was not part of the district when the original re-entry plan was made, however, shared his support for the district’s cautious re-opening plan on September 1 during the board meeting.
“We have only had two cases of an in-school student being identified, so we felt pretty comfortable going forward,” Dr. Tipton said of his recommendation to continue in-person instruction.
Dr. Tipton said overall, according to the Jackson County Board of Education COVID19 cases have seemed to flatten across the county.
Jackson County will resume classes on September 14 with A/B class groups, with half of students attending two days a week and the other half attending the other two days. Complete virtual learning will remain an option for families as well.
Students will return to the classroom next week after two weeks of remote learning, which gave the district the opportunity to address the current situation and ensure protocols such as social distancing can be sustained throughout the district.
Jackson County has around 63 percent of students attending school two days a week for in-person instruction and 37 percent of students electing to participate in fully remote learning. After the first semester of school, students who are remote may transition to in-person instruction. Students who are currently in-person may transition to remote at any time.
While the Jackson County Board of Health shows a flattening of the curve for county residents, the numbers being reported in Jackson County do not reflect the numbers associated with Western Carolina University, unless positive cases are associated with a Jackson County resident. If a student from a different state or county tests positive, those numbers will not be reported by Jackson County Health Department, but rather by the individual’s home location.
As of today, WCU has reported 105 cumulative positive cases, 98 of which are from students. While many college campuses across the UNC College System have elected to transition to remote learning this Fall, WCU remains optimistic about completing the semester with in-person classes. The university has reported a cluster of cases in one residential dorm.