Cumberland County Schools re-entry plan adjusted for expected holiday COVID-19 surge

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- In light of current COVID-19 metrics, Cumberland County Schools (CCS) Superintendent Dr. Marvin Connelly has decided to adjust the school re-entry plan.

The announcement was made on Thursday evening. In a press release, it was revealed that K-12 will remain virtual for the first two weeks of the Spring semester to "allow for a two-week virus incubation period after the holidays."

State and local health officials have shared with Eyewitness News that metrics have spiked after every holiday, during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

ABC11 reached out to Michelle Hallas, a Cumberland County mother and advocate for an in-learning option, about CCS's decision. She says, while she understands the precautions in place, she hopes students aren't left in the dust by the end of the year.

"There are many children doing great, but there are just as many children that are not succeeding in school. And, if we start another semester off and we go down the same path we just went down, then, we're setting Cumberland County Schools' kids up for failure," Hallas said in a Zoom interview.

According to CCS, since Thanksgiving, 99 adults and 19 students have tested positive for COVID-19, leading to 250 individuals needing to quarantine. Superintendent Connelly says there's concern that there may not be enough substitute teachers available for instruction.

On Monday, the state's largest public school system, Wake County Public Schools, shared a similar concern.

As the plan stands now:
  • January 6-15: K-12 all virtual learning
  • January 19-22: EC Separate Students and Pre-K (Virtual), Grades K-8 (Virtual), Grades 9-12 (testing in-person)
  • January 25-29: EC Separate & Pre-K attend daily, Elementary (K-2 Cohorts attend AA&BB), Grades 3-5 (Virtual), Grades 7, 8, 11, 12 will remain virtual
  • February 1-5: K-12 will start blended AA & BB cohorts to stagger in-person schedules
  • By March 1, barring poor metrics, K-5 transition to Plan A & Grades 6-12 remain blended, following the AA/BB schedule.

CCS is asking the community to do their part to bring down metrics like the county positivity rate to ensure this current plan can remain in place.

Hallas says she hopes to see some consistency for her daughter's final semester of high school, along with the thousands of other parents and students.

"Thinking of it, from a child's perspective, that's difficult. That's difficult to keep telling them, 'okay, we're going to try again, we're going to try again," Hallas said.
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