By Catharin Shepard • Staff writer • Hoke County students in pre-kindergarten through eighth grade will start attending in-person classes Monday-Thursday beginning April 12, as the school district shifts to comply with a new state law.
The key information
- Elementary and middle schools in the county will move to Plan A with in-person classes Monday-Thursday, and remote learning on Fridays.
- Hoke County High School and SandHoke Early College will remain on Plan B at this time, with students attending in-person classes two days a week on a Monday and Wednesday, or Tuesday and Thursday schedule, and remote learning on Fridays.
- Families who prefer to keep their children at home will still have the option to choose Plan C, online-only learning.
- Hoke County Schools will be on spring break from April 2 (Good Friday) through Sunday, April 11. Students and teachers will return Monday, April 12 with elementary and middle schools on the new schedule.
What’s Plan A?
Hoke County Schools explained more about what Plan A is, and what it means for families.
“Plan A continues to include important health and safety measures while in school buildings and on school grounds; however, it does not require schools to reduce the number of children in the classroom,” the school system said in documents about the schedule change.
“All students may be in school at the same time, but they will be required to wear masks and have daily temperature screenings. Plan A is the least restrictive plan with social distancing required only where students may congregate, such as hallways, reception areas, cafeteria, and restrooms.”
The school system described in a document the safety measures Hoke elementary and middle schools will follow under Plan A, including:
● Daily symptom screenings (including temperature screenings) of any person entering the building, including students, staff and other visitors
● All students, staff, and visitors must wear cloth face coverings inside school buildings, on school transportation, and anywhere on school grounds.
● Arrival and dismissal procedures will limit congregation; parents/guardians will remain in cars during these times
● Frequent hand washing and sanitation breaks incorporated into classroom activity
● Social distancing required only where individuals may congregate, such as in lines, hallways, reception areas, cafeterias, recess, and restrooms
● Desk shields/barriers for all student desks
● Students will continue to eat breakfast and lunch in the classrooms; meals will be delivered to the classrooms
● Visitors/parents will not be allowed beyond the front office; visitor/parent questions and requests will be addressed outside or through a service window as much as possible to limit visitors entering the buildings.
● Transportation – 2 students (wearing cloth face coverings) per seat if necessary; siblings will be seated together first
● Transportation (bus assignment) changes will not be allowed, such as students riding home with other students, or at a bus stop location different than their assigned bus
● Daily environmental cleaning and disinfection of high touch services and evening deep cleanings with an EPA approved disinfectant
● Continue frequent reminders, including signage, for students and staff to stay at least 6 feet apart from one another when feasible.
Senate Bill 220
The shift comes in the wake of Gov. Roy Cooper signing Senate Bill 220 into law. S.B. 220 requires all public schools in North Carolina to offer a Plan A schedule to elementary students, and either Plan A or Plan B to middle and high school students.
The law also directed school districts to continue to offer an online-only learning option for families who don’t want to send their children back to in-person classes yet.
The bill included safety requirements. School systems must comply with pandemic safety precautions set down in the StrongSchoolsNC Public Health Toolkit; and districts opening middle or high schools on a Plan A schedule must notify the Department of Health and Human Services and describe a plan for moving to the minimal social distancing instruction.
Under the law, those schools opening middle or high school classrooms on Plan A must also partner with the ABC Science Collaborative of the School of Medicine at Duke University to allow the collaborative to collect and analyze pandemic data, including “robust” contact tracing.
School districts still have flexibility to respond to emergencies under S.B. 220. Local school administrators continue to have the authority to make day-to-day decisions about moving certain classes or schools to online-only learning due to potential COVID-19 exposures “that result in insufficient school personnel or required student quarantines.”