The Macon County Board of Education unanimously voted Monday night to bring all students K-12 grades back into school buildings after the Spring Break holiday at full capacity. All schools with the exception of Macon Early College and Franklin High School will be in-person four days a week. MEC and FHS will be in person five days a week. Students who choose to remain virtual will be permitted to continue to stay virtual.
By waiting until April 5, families and teachers will be given adequate time to prepare for the schedule change. More importantly, all staff having chosen to be vaccinated will have been provided the 2 weeks required to develop immunity to COVID-19.
On March 11, 2021, Governor Cooper signed Senate Bill 220 into law. Senate Bill 220 requires Local Boards of education to provide in-person learning for grades K-5 in Plan A, and for grades 6-12 in either Plan B or Plan A, while meeting all health and safety requirements in the Strong Schools NC Public Health Toolkit (K-12). While the Macon County School system is currently meeting the requirements that are outlined in Senate Bill 220, our school system may now choose to allow all of our students to return to school. Our schools are still required to offer families the option of attending school virtually.
Mountain View Intermediate School, Macon Middle School, and Union Academy will continue to require that each Friday be a virtual day in order to adequately interact with their virtual students. Franklin High School and Macon Early College will operate under Plan A 5 days per week. Cartoogechaye Elementary, East Franklin Elementary, Iotla Valley Elementary, South Macon Elementary, Nantahala School, and Highlands School will not alter their current schedule of operations.
It is important to note that Senate Bill 220 requires that schools continue to adhere to the Strong Schools NC Public Health Toolkit (K-12). While more of our students are allowed back on our campuses face coverings remain a mandate in North Carolina schools.
According to Macon County Schools Superintendent Dr. Chris Baldwin, school bus routes will resume to the routes used pre-COVID and will operate under Plan A, however, they will be monitored by school administration.
The transition to Plan A for 6-12 will give those students 15 additional in-person instruction days before the end of the school year.
Both Swain County Schools and Jackson County Schools have also voted to allow students to return under Plan A after the Spring Break holiday.
North Carolina schools returning for in-person learning also comes at the same time that the Center for Disease Control announced that schools should maintain at least three feet of social distance between students, a change from the original recommendation of six feet. The change comes after studies shows little difference in schools that followed three feet vs six feet.