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Macon County Schools will have alternating school days under Plan B

The Macon County Board of Education approved an alternating day schedule for the majority of students during a special called meeting Thursday night. The plan, which will be reevaluated throughout the year based on the evolving COVID19 situation, was formed based on survey responses from 3,314 of the district’s 4,500 students.

Macon County’s unique geographical breakdown makes it difficult to have one plan for the entire district, so rather each school site had versions of Plan B approved Thursday night.

Franklin Area Schools including all elementary schools, Macon Middle School, Mountain View Intermediate and Macon Early College, will be divided into two groups, Group A and Group B, to reduce the number of students on campus each day to be able to follow social distancing requirements. Group A will attend in-person instruction on Monday and Wednesday and have remote learning on Tuesday and Thursday. Group B students will attend in-person instruction on Tuesday and Thursday and have remote learning on Monday and Wednesday. All students in Macon County will have remote learning on Friday to allow for sanitation of school sites.

Franklin Area parents will learn which group their child is placed in when homeroom information is released.

Union Academy and Nantahala Schools have small enough enrollment numbers to allow all students to attend in person instruction Monday through Thursday, with Friday being a remote learning day.

Franklin High School will be divided by grade level with Freshman and Juniors attending in-person school on Monday and Wednesday and Sophomore and Seniors attending school in-person on Tuesday and Thursday. Students will have remote learning on days they are not in-person as well as Fridays.

Highlands School will eventually have all students attending for in-person instruction; however the first two weeks will be staggered. For the two weeks, elementary students will be on campus on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and will be remote on Fridays. Middle School students in Highlands will be on campus on Wednesday and Thursday, with remote instruction on Monday, Tuesday, and Friday. High School students will be remote every day except Friday, when the only students who will be on campus will be high school students. Beginning with the third week of school, all students will be on campus every day, with remote learning on Friday.

The week of September 7 will be remote for everyone to give the district and teachers time to regroup and evaluate the first three weeks of school.

According to the survey, 860 students are currently registered for the Macon County Virtual Academy, will be provide 100% remote learning. The structure of the virtual academy will depend on actual enrollment numbers beginning August 17. The district has 30 teachers who signed up to teach the virtual academy based on need, however, matching the grade level of virtual academy students with the qualifications of teachers will not be completed until school begins. In some instances, when only a few students in the same grade are signed up for the virtual academy, rather than have an entire class taught by a dedicated teacher, those students will be placed in a regular classroom operating under Plan B and the teacher will be responsible for teaching their in-person students as well as the Virtual Academy students.

Classes such as art and music will be integrated into core curriculum based on grade level. Students who are enrolled in Plan B and are in person two days a week, might end up with a teacher who is not physically present in the classroom due to health concerns. For example, the 10 students in each group may attend in-person instruction, however because their teacher is considered high risk, she teaches via video screen while an adult monitor or substitute is present with the students in the class.

Students will be allowed to participate in sports if they are enrolled in the virtual academy, assuming the sport or activity is permitted under COVID19.

As of right now, Macon County will host VIP.

Meals for students will be served in classrooms, with school working to rotate students eating in the cafeteria. Take home meals will be provided on days students are home with remote learning and for the virtual academy.

If a senior elects for the Virtual Academy, the diploma the student receives at the end of the year will reflect the last school they attended.

Based on the survey, 36% of parents intend to send their child to school on a school bus, which will only allow one child per bus unless they are siblings. High school students will not be permitted to ride the bus the first week of school and shuttle buses, such as the buses that pick students up at Cartoogechaye and bus them to the middle school, will not be utilized while the districts work out ensuring there is enough space on all buses for students.

Students with IEP concerns should contact their school with questions and for more information on the structure of those classes.

Each student will be assigned an iPad and community connectivity hotspots will be provided at various churches and community buildings throughout Macon County. The district also has 100 mifi hot spots for families who do not have internet at home currently.

Cloth face masks are REQUIRED for attending school and five masks will be provided by the district.  If a student cannot wear a mask and cannot provide documentation of a medical exception, those students have the option to attend virtual learning.

If you haven’t completed the survey please do that before Monday.  If you want to change your child’s option for school this Fall, contact the school.

What are other schools in WNC doing?

Parents across the country are grappling with the Fall school year – debating virtual learning vs. in-person instruction, figuring out how to balance work and homeschooling, and trying to keep up with the ever changing requirements and recommendations.

After North Carolina announced all districts in the state had to either operate under Plan B – which would ensure moderate social distancing, or Plan C – 100% virtual learning, districts across the state began announcing how they would begin school this Fall.

Just Friday, North Carolina updated the requirements to say that now, face coverings must be worn at all times while on school grounds, when previously they stated masks only had to be worn in common areas or when social distancing couldn’t be maintained.

Districts across Western North Carolina have plans similar to Macon County if they intend to attempt in-person instruction at all. Many districts are foregoing in-person instruction this fall and beginning schools on August 17 with remote learning.

Asheville City Schools

Asheville City Schools will open under Plan C, at least for the first nine weeks. That means schools will start Aug. 17 with at-home, remote instruction for all students (kindergarten through 12 grade).

Cherokee Central Schools

Cherokee Central Schools will operate under Plan C to begin the school year.

Graham County

All K-3 students will attend school on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. Wednesday is a Remote Learning at Home day.

For grades 4-8 , 50% of students (Cohort A) will report to school on Monday and Thursday. The other 50% of students (Cohort B) will report to school on Tuesday and Friday. Wednesday is a Remote Learning at Home day. Cohorts will be divided alphabetically by last name. (Students who have the same address will be placed together-regardless of last name).

All high school students will report to school on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. Wednesday is a Remote Learning at Home day. Students will be social distanced across the campus, including instruction in large areas such  as the auditorium, media center, outdoor classroom and gyms.

Haywood County

Most students will start school virtually in Haywood County.  Haywood County Superintendent Dr. Bill Nolte said schools will start virtually for most on Aug. 17 with the hopes kids can return to the classroom within the month.

Under the plan, teachers can come back, as well as Pre-K and students who need extra help or special instruction.

Transylvania County

Transylvania County students will be divided into two groups for Plan B. One group will go to class on Mondays and Wednesdays, while the other will go on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Polk County

Students will have the option to either attend in-person classes at least two days per week or participate in one of two remote learning options.

Students in grades 6-12 can attend in-person classes two days per week. One group of students will attend classes on Monday-Tuesday, while the other group attends classes on Thursday-Friday. Wednesday will be a fully remote day for all students, with students expected to complete work on the Space permitting, all students in Polk County elementary schools and Polk County Early College can attend in-person classes every day.

Students can opt to attend all classes remotely or join the district’s new Wolverine Academy.

Rutherford County

Will open under Plan C and operate remotely at least until September 8.

Swain County Schools

Swain County will be sending students back to the classroom in August with group A attending school on Monday and Tuesday and Group B attending Thursday and Friday, with Wednesday being used as a cleaning day.

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