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Macon Board of Education to meet Monday night; Swain and Jackson bring students back under Plan A

Schools across North Carolina are discussing the return for in-person learning under Plan A after Governor Roy Cooper and NC legislators reached an agreement to get kids back in the classroom. The Jackson County Board of Education approved a recommendation by interim Superintendent Dr. Tony Tipton to move grades 6-12 to the state’s “Plan A” and increase the number of in-person learning days from the current two days per week to four days per week, effective April 5 when students return from spring break.

With the exception of Jackson County Early College, all students can attend school in-person Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday beginning April 5.

Wednesday will continue to be a remote learning day for those schools. JCEC students will attend Monday-Thursday with Friday as their remote learning day.

Swain County Schools also announced this week that students in grades 6-12 will be returning to the classroom four days a week. Swain County Schools Superintendent Mark Sale recommended the return to in-person instruction to members of the Board of Education on Wednesday, March 17, and with the board’s approval, students will be returning on April 12. All students will be returning for in-person learning on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, leaving Wednesday as a remote learning day for the district. 

April 12 is the Monday following Swain County Schools’ Spring Break and to better prepare for the transition, the week prior to Spring Break, students will be attending class on Wednesday, with an optional teacher work day on April 2 to allow teachers time to get ready for the new students.

In most WNC counties, students in grades PreK-5 have been attending class in-person four days per week since Oct. 5 when Governor Roy Cooper eased restrictions for elementary schools. However, each district has handled how grades 6-12 have been in-person differently. 

In Macon County, for 6-12 students at Macon Early College, Union Academy, Nantahala School, and Highlands School, students have been attended class four days per week, with Friday being a remote learning day to give teachers a day to address students who are participating in virtual learning. 

Franklin High School switched up their model after Christmas break, moving any virtual students to the online state academy, freeing up FHS teachers on Fridays, which allowed students to return to school three days a week. On Fridays, Cohort A and Cohort B would rotate Fridays to be able to adhere to social distancing requirements from the state. 

After NC Senate Bill 220, those requirements are no longer in place, which opens the doors for FHS to begin operating under Plan. In addition to FHS, if the board of education votes to do so, 6th graders at MVI as well as 7&8 graders at Macon Middle School can begin attending school full time for the first time in over a year. 

While WNC districts are deciding to bring students back for in-person learning, the option for students to remain virtual will continue for all districts. 

The Macon County Board of Education is scheduled to meet Monday, March 22 at 6 p.m and will likely be discussing Macon County’s plan moving forward. 

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