The Swain County Board of Education met last week to decide how to move forward with the Spring Semester. After a lengthy meeting, the board voted to allow students on Plan C (virtual learning) to return to the classroom for face-to-face instruction after the Christmas break. However, to accommodate for the increase in students expects to return, under the advice of Superintendent Mark Sale, the board voted to return to an A/B schedule, two days a week, for elementary school students to allow for social distancing to still be accomplished.
Swain County parents took to social media to express their frustration in the change, citing examples of learning difficulties and the lack of consistency from the school board. As frustration grew on social media over the weekend, parents reached a tipping point on Monday when the Swain County Board of Education announced because there was no new business, the Swain County Board of Education would not be meeting Monday night to avoid unnecessary gatherings and the next board meeting would not be held until January 11. However, parents who were frustrated with the board’s decision to return to a two-day-a-week schedule had planned to attend the board meeting Monday to speak to the board during public comment session.
By law, the Swain County Board of Education has to hold a public comment session, which according to the posted schedule of meeting of the board, occurs during the regular scheduled meeting, held on the second Monday of each month.
Early on Tuesday, the Swain Board of Education posted an update to Facebook announcing a special called board meeting scheduled for December 17 at 6 p.m. The announcement stated the meeting would be “for the purpose of public comment and Board discussion only.”
The announcement also stated that per Board Policy 2310, the public comment period would be limited to just 30 minutes. Anyone wanting to speak will be allowed 3 minutes to do so, however, after 30 minutes, the board plans to discontinue public comment. If additional individuals want to address the Board of Education during the meeting, the majority of board members can vote to continue public comment period if needed.